The clocks have gone back, the temperature’s finally starting to drop and summer is well and truly behind us.
Left, Helvellyn in winter
It can mean only one thing: yes, it’s time to apply for the best job in Britain again. Lake District bosses are looking for a fit mountain lover to climb Helvellyn every day from December to April.
And don’t think of taking Christmas Day off!
The successful applicant will make the daily trek to the top of the Lake District’s third highest mountain to assess the weather and fell-top conditions for the national park authority’s Weatherline service. Pre-requisites are winter mountaineering skills and experience and the ability to assess snow and ice conditions. Add to that the strength and fitness you’ll need to lug a 40lb rucksack full of equipment and the ability to work on your own and you might be in with a chance.
The job pays between £7.30 and £8.23 an hour and you’ll get 10 percent extra for working weekends. The daily return trip from Glenridding to the summit of the 950m (3,118ft) peak takes four hours and in one seven-day shift the man or woman who gets the job will have climb almost the equivalent of the trip up Everest.
Pete Collins, who is heading into his fifth season working as a fell-top assessor, said: “It’s the perfect job for someone who loves being in the hills.
“It’s all the things I enjoy doing most: being out on the hills in all conditions, using and developing mountain skills, not just for myself but for countless others too.
“Wind is the greatest problem. Snow and ice you cope with, you just dress and equip yourself properly. Wind has stopped me getting to the summit four times, including one day when it was howling at 83 miles an hour!”
Weather readings, wind directions and speeds, air and wind-chill temperatures are all recorded, as well as conditions under foot. Snow and ice are particularly dangerous and it is critical walkers are kept informed so they can equip themselves. The coldest wind chill temperature Pete has recorded is minus 30 degrees Celsius.
Closing date for applications is Monday 6 November. Interviews will be held at Blencathra Centre, Threlkeld, on Tuesday 14 November. Candidates should expect a walk to the top of Blencathra as part of the interview!
The rest of us can just be happy that the determined souls who trek to Helvellyn’s summit each day make our mountaineering that bit safer.