The Law, where the walkers were found. Photo: Ian Bruce CC-BY-SA-2.0

The Law, where the walkers were found. Photo: Ian Bruce CC-BY-SA-2.0

A mountain rescue expert has told hillwalkers GPS mobile phones are only fit for urban walking, and anyone heading for the hills should learn to use a map and compass.

Ochils Mountain Rescue Team secretary Tom Lockie was speaking after the rescue of a group of school students got lost in mist on a hill in the Ochils.

The party of four teenagers and two adult helpers were relying on mobile phones to work out their position.

The party was found unhurt but cold, wet and embarrassed after setting out on a walk from Dollar. Ochils MRT said they intended to walk to Tillicoultry and then up The Law and Andrew Gannel Hill before camping at the top of the Glen of Sorrow.

But Ochils MRT was called out after police received a call to say the group was stuck in low cloud on top of Andrew Gannel Hill, a 670m (2,198ft) peak east of Ben Cleuch.

A team spokesperson said: “After entering the low cloud on The Law and a combination of poor navigation with strong winds they became benighted near the summit.

“Assistance was then requested from the Ochils MRT via Central Scotland Police where the information supplied suggested that they were on or near the summit of Andrew Gannel Hill.

“The team was able to contact the missing walkers and quickly worked out that they were stuck on the top of The Law in the mist.

“The team was quickly assembled and a group of six rescuers made their way to the location of the missing persons and guided them down following an initial medical examination.

“Other rescuers were held near to the foot of the hills pending updates from the advance rescue party.

“Although cold, wet and embarrassed the party was safely led off the hill.”

The spokesperson said the group got lost due to their poor navigation and reliance of mobile phones for their location.

“Their basic navigation using map and compass was poor and insufficient in poor visibility,” the spokesperson added.

The walkers, from a Dunfermline school, were warmed up at the team’s base in Fishcross before returning home to anxious parents.

Tom Lockie, secretary of the Ochils MRT, who led the search, said: “This is another example of walkers not being able to read a map and use a compass.

“They clearly thought they were elsewhere and again relied on the GPS function of a mobile telephone.

“The use of GPS on phones should be restricted to urban walking and not relied on in the hills where they invariably fail through lack of reception and poor battery life.

“This is the second callout within a few days where we have found exactly the same issue.

“We have previously and still do, urge walkers to ensure that they are proficient in the use of a map and compass before venturing into the hills and mountains of Scotland.”

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