Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Lakeland Safety

The fells, moorland, dales, lakes and tarns are some of nature's finest public playgrounds. One of the things that makes such places so special is that they are available for all to enjoy. There are no restrictions on opening times. The fells are there regardless of age, race or religion. Rich or poor, young or old, there is something for everyone there.

The shores of Derwentwater

It might be a gentle stroll alongside a lake such as Derwentwater, taking in the breathtaking views in all directions as you listen to the water lapping on the shore.

The Bridge House in Ambleside

You might prefer a stroll around one of the towns and villages of the Lakes - Keswick, Ambleside, Hawkshead or Grasmere for example.

Blencathra and Bannerdale Crags from Souther Fell

Your day's activities might be more strenuous and involve a climb up some of the iconic Lakeland fells, such as Scafell Pike, Catbells or Blencathra.

a murky walk on the Langdale Pikes

However, a recent news item caught my eye and reminded me that nature can be an unpredictable and sometimes dangerous foe just as much as it can be a welcoming friend. I read about a group of walkers that called Mountain Rescue on not just one, but two consecutive days, because they were lost whilst walking the Coast to Coast path. Instead of using map, compass or a GPS they were solely armed with a guidebook. Not only that, but due to an injured leg, they had already been warned by MR not to continue after the first rescue.

restricted visibility on Coniston Old Man

Claire and I have been caught by sudden cloud, wind, rain, sleet or snow on numerous occasions when out in the Lakes. We have had visibility reduced to a couple of metres which can be pretty hairy when you know  there are sharp ridges and precipices all around. We have encountered a freak snowstorm in the middle of Autumn on higher ground which similarly left us more or less blind. On another occasion on what seemed like a perfect Summer's day, high winds prevented us from reaching the higher ground.

Heavy cloud coming down on Brandreth

No matter what your level of skill, experience or fitness is, it is always worth remembering some basic safety and common sense, in order to stop your enjoyment of the fells from becoming a painful memory. Here are a couple of links to some great resources to help you get the most out from your fells:

Mountain Rescue: Mountain Advice

Mountain Rescue: How to Stay Safe and Enjoy the Fells

Stay safe, and happy walking!

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