Mountain rescue teams have produced a video to explain problems they are facing.
The six-minute film features Richard Warren, chairman of the group representing all the MRTs in the Lake District. He explains some of the pitfalls faced by fellwalkers who don’t prepare for trips on to the tops, by going ill-equipped, not checking weather forecasts and not gaining navigational skills and mountain knowledge for walking on Britain’s mountains.
Many walkers mistakenly believe that MRTs are an arm of Government, funded by taxes when, in fact they are all volunteers who give up time to train and then go on to the fells when they receive emergency calls.
The video, available on YouTube, is one weapon in the rescuers’ armoury to try to halt the rising trend of callouts, many of which are avoidable. One famous incident quoted by Mr Warren is the Lakeland walkers who demanded a helicopter to get them down from the fells because they didn’t want to be late for a dinner party.
Rescuers in the Lake District saw an 8 per cent rise in incidents last year with 15 per cent more people rescued. Calls to teams in north Wales rose four per cent.
The increased burden on the volunteers means some can no longer continue their role in the MRTs because the time spent on callouts conflicts with work or family life.
Acting Chief Inspector Gordon Rutherford of Cumbria Constabulary backed the project to educate walkers. He said: “We fully support this initiative and would encourage all those visiting the Lake District to ensure that any walk is planned in advance and sensible precautions are taken.”
Ian Stephens, chief executive at Cumbria Tourism, which helped to produce the video, said: “Out of the 15 million visitors that come to Cumbria and the Lake District each year, over two-thirds choose to go walking, so being featured in high profile TV programmes such as BBC’s Wainwright Walks is fantastic publicity for Cumbria and helps to encourage more people to visit the area to appreciate the outdoors.
“However, it is important for us to make sure that visitors continue to enjoy the mountains safely, and, with 2008 being Cumbria’s ‘Year of Adventure’, we will work with Mountain Rescue to ensure that visitors are aware of the importance of being properly prepared and having the correct equipment before setting out on the fells and mountains.”
The film will be shown at Rheged, the Penrith museum which used to house the National Mountain Exhibition, as part of celebrations of mountain rescue’s 75th anniversary in England and Wales.