The Wasdale team rescued the injured woman above Burnmoor Tarn

The Wasdale team rescued the injured woman above Burnmoor Tarn

Mountain rescuers have urged outdoor enthusiasts to take care as the end of British Summer Time signals earlier nightfall.

Richard Warren, chair of the Lake District mountain rescuers’ body, said walkers on the fells risk being caught out as the sun will set before 5pm from Sunday.

And he appealed to those heading for the Cumbrian mountains to take a torch and plan their trips so they don’t get benighted on the fells.

Mr Warren, a member of the Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team, said: “The team would like to remind all walkers who are planning to go out this week and particularly this coming weekend when the clocks go back that torches are an absolute must.

“Next Sunday at 2am the clocks will change giving us an extra hour in bed. This means that the sun will set before five and it will be dark by 5.30pm.

“It is worth remembering the importance of taking torches and spare batteries even if you are intending to be off the hill before nightfall. Any torches that have not been used since last winter should be checked and treated to fresh batteries.

“Being able to navigate and move in the dark could be the difference between being able to make your own way down and having to spend a cold and wet night on the mountain. You cannot and shouldn’t rely on a mobile phone signal to get you out of trouble.”

The advice came after a weekend when the Wasdale team was called out four times to help walkers on the Lake District fells.

“Although the start of this year was quiet compared to 2010, half term seems to be making up for it,” Mr Warren, chair of the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association, said. “Over a 24-hour period starting Sunday, the Wasdale team has been called out to four rescues including lost and overdue walkers and a lady with a fractured lower leg and ankle, which occurred yesterday afternoon.

“This was not just limited to our area in Wasdale as both Cockermouth MRT and Langdale and Ambleside were out at the same time yesterday afternoon responding to 999 calls for female walkers with fractured lower legs.

“Our walker in Wasdale was with a family group up in the Lakes for a half term holiday from Yorkshire. They were descending the mountain in the Burnmoor Tarn area when she went over on her ankle, badly fracturing her lower leg.”

He said the family was unable to raise the alarm on their mobile phone as there was no signal in the area so the husband made the right decision to run down the mountain to Boot in Eskdale, some 45 minutes away to make the call from the village in the valley bottom.

Mr Warren continued: “When the team arrived she was given casualty care on scene including analgesia to reduce the pain before being placed on a stretcher and carried across the fell to an air ambulance, called in to assist in what would have been a lengthy evacuation.

“The remainder of the family group of five plus their dog were walked back down the mountain and taken back in the team vehicle to their car at Ravenglass. 14 team members attended the rescue which started at around 2pm and closed at 5pm.”

He added that, as winter approaches it is worth making sure you are appropriately equipped. “Waterproof and warm clothing, hats and gloves, suitable footwear, torches, plenty of food and hot drinks are all vital,” the rescue chairman said. “A survival bag or bivvi shelter can be a lifesaver if you are forced to stop moving for any length of time. Of course a map and compass and knowing how to use them are essential items and skills to get you and your party out of trouble.

“The weather at this time of year can be particularly challenging, make sure that your objectives are suitable for both the weather and the ability of your entire group. In particular the effect of the wind strength and direction on your intended route is often underestimated.

“It is also worth remembering to make sure all members of the group have enough energy for the descent. Our statistics show that the majority of our callouts are to parties on their way down.”

There are more than 1,000 rescues each year in England and Wales, more than half of which are in the Lake District.

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