Lake District mountain rescue warning after ‘chaotic’ festive period

Mountain rescue has urged day trippers to the Lake District to properly plan their walks after an “absolutely chaotic” Christmas period and warnings of blizzards on the way.

The rescue group said there were 11 call-outs during Christmas week, including one that involved 75 people looking for a man and his 11-year-old son on Scafell Pike.

Richard Warren, the chairman of the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association, said his teams were called out a record 680 times in 2021 and the start of 2022 had been “just as busy”.

Volunteers are braced for a potentially busy few weeks ahead as people take to the outdoors as part of a new year health kick.

A cold blast of weather could put the skids on those new year resolutions, however. The Met Office has put a yellow weather warning in place for the Lake District this Friday with blizzard conditions and snow showers on the way.

Snow is expected to fall across other high parts of the UK towards the end of the week, along with cold temperatures and blustery showers.

In the Peak District, heavy snow showers are expected to fall on Friday followed by gale force winds at the weekend.

Warren said there had been two call-outs on Christmas Day itself in the Lake District following a record 680 rescues last year.

The previous record was 650 call-outs in 2018, but Warren said 2021 had eclipsed that despite the first three months of the year being “relatively quiet”.

He said there had been a “very sad end to the year” when a man died after suffering a medical episode on Skiddaw on New Year’s Eve.

Volunteers have urged people to check weather forecasts and whether they have the right gear before they take to the mountains.

“A lot of rescues are avoidable because people get lost with no map, compass or torch,” Warren said.

“Really we want people to start thinking about what they are doing, when they are doing it and to check the weather.”

Warren said he was extremely proud of the all the volunteers at the 12 rescue teams in Cumbria.

“We do it unpaid,” he said, adding: “Mountain rescuers don’t want to be paid. They do it because they love the mountains and love helping people.”

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