One of the grid-reference discs. Photo: Snowdonia NPA

One of the grid-reference discs. Photo: Snowdonia NPA

A trial on Wales’s highest mountain to help disoriented walkers may lead to fewer calls for help.

Small plaques bearing grid references have been fixed to stiles and gates on Snowdon in an attempt to promote mountain safety.

The Mountainsafe Partnership, which came up with the idea, hopes it will encourage walkers and other outdoor enthusiasts to use their maps and compasses and will help them work out where they are.

The small discs, which bear the initial letters plus a six-figure grid reference, are already in place on many of the stiles and gates on the 1,085m (3,560ft) mountain.

Snowdonia national park warden, Gruff Owen said: “The idea for placing grid references on footpath furniture originally came from local mountain rescue teams.

“By working closely with recreation groups through the Mountainsafe Partnership we’ve developed the idea so that it’s as unobtrusive as possible.

“The markers are being placed on pre-existing stiles and gates so that temporarily disoriented walkers who’ve brought a map and remember their geography lessons, will easily be able to pinpoint their position.

“I hope the markers will also serve as a reminder for some to polish up on their map and compass skills.”

John Grisdale, chairman of Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team added: “Although it’s rare for an incident to occur directly next to a stile or a gate, walkers often become disoriented and rescue teams spend hundreds of volunteer man-hours trying to locate people who are lost but unhurt.

“These discs are a simple idea which will allow disoriented people to locate themselves and could prevent them from having to call us in the first place.

“They will also promote grass-root navigation skills required to travel safely in the mountains.”

Emyr Williams, director of land management at Snowdonia National Park Authority said: “I am very pleased that our new safety initiative is already proving popular with mountain users.

“As part of our service to the public, it’s vital that we reach out to as many people as possible so that everyone is informed of the measures in place to keep mountain users safe.”

The grid-reference plaques are the latest in a series of measures introduced to promote mountain safety in Snowdonia.

Earlier in the year the Mountain Info Services Project was launched at the national park warden centre at Pen-y-Pass, aimed at giving mountaineers and hill-walkers access to electronic and digital information, as well as traditional safety advice.

Along with a visible presence on the mountain the warden service also launched a Twitter service which updates users on potential risks and links directly to the Met Office’s weather forecast for Snowdonia.

The Mountainsafe Partnership consists of Snowdonia National Park Authority, North Wales Police, Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team, the British Mountaineering Council, Mountain Training Wales, North Wales Mountain Rescue Association, RAF 22 Squadron and Snowdonia Active.

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