Hillwalkers still need to know how to use a compass and map to navigate, police said

Hillwalkers still need to know how to use a compass and map to navigate, police said

A second police force has warned hillwalkers not to rely on smartphone apps as their sole navigation tool on the mountains of Scotland.

Northern Constabulary echoed earlier comments by Grampian Police who said lives were being put at risk by people venturing on to the high mountains without adequate equipment and the ability to find their way.

A spokesperson for Northern Constabulary said: “On two occasions in recent days, both police and Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team have been involved in the rescue of lost walkers who were relying entirely on apps which proved to be insufficient on their own.

“Aviemore Acting Inspector Kevin MacLeod added: “When you consider the dangers of getting lost in the mountains or of taking a false turn, it would be difficult to overstate the importance of being able to navigate accurately.

“Smartphone apps are a great innovation but, on their own, they are not reliable enough for navigation in the mountains.

“In addition to being suitably experienced and equipped, walkers should have, and know how to use, a map and compass or other suitable navigational device.”

Simon Steer, deputy leader of the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team said: “Last night alone, we were involved in two separate incidents, involving a total of 16 people, who had relied on smartphone apps to navigate on the high tops, were very poorly equipped for the conditions, and become lost in the Cairngorms.

“Whilst these advances in technology are a great addition to the range of navigational aids, they do not remove the two key requirements to travel safely in the mountains which are the ability to navigate using traditional map and compass, even when supported by other technologies, and the need to go to the hills properly equipped for Scottish mountain weather.”

“It’s great that more people are venturing into the hills, but we need to be very aware of the limitations of new technologies and avoid relying solely on them.

“Apps don’t give you a risk-free passport to the mountains. If nothing else, the batteries don’t last indefinitely.”

Yesterday, Chief Inspector Andrew Todd of Grampian Police said lives were at risk when ill prepared walkers ventured on to the mountains. He said: “I have been involved in mountain rescue for nearly 20 years and, while technology can and does play an important part in raising the alarm or assisting navigation, it appears we may be about to witness a marked increase in the complete reliance of smartphone apps to navigate some of the UK’s highest mountains.

“What is particularly concerning is that the individuals who are relying on this apparently inappropriate technology often do not possess even rudimentary mountain navigation skills.

“This is putting their lives at risk, and while Scotland’s mountains are there for all to enjoy, there is a personal responsibility on those who venture into the mountains to do so only when properly equipped and skilled.”

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