A headtorch is essential for trips on to the hills as daylight gets shorter

A headtorch is essential for trips on to the hills as daylight gets shorter

The weekend sees the coincidence of half-term school holidays in many areas, and the end of British Summer Time across the UK.

And experts are pleading with walkers heading for the hills to take account of curtailed daylight and cooler weather.

The Mountainsafe partnership in Snowdonia said the last two weeks in October are usually busy in the national park.

It said a recent incident on Snowdon shows the lack of preparation by many walkers.

“A group of 30 walkers began their ascent at 2pm from Llanberis,” a Mountainsafe spokesperson said, “but at 9.30 pm, the mountain rescue team was called out as one of the walkers could not descend any further due to an injured ankle.

“Not only had the group had left it too late to start walking up Snowdon, not all in the group had torches, and the walker was injured whilst descending a rocky path in darkness.

Dewi Davies, the national park senior warden said: “Lack of preparation is the reason behind the majority of calls to rescue teams at this time of year.

“Walkers don’t consider the length of their journey before starting and they don’t consider that it gets much darker earlier these days.

“They don’t have a torch or a torch that’s working and relying on a mobile phone isn’t a good idea either.”

A compass, and the knowledge to use it, is also essential when cloud comes down

A compass, and the knowledge to use it, is also essential when cloud comes down

Mountainsafe said walkers need a map and compass, food and drink, whistle, first aid and a mobile phone with a full battery and a torch with batteries.

You should plan your route, the organisation said.

“Before you start, you need to know where you’re going. Find out how long the journey should take to walk and what time does it gets dark.

“Check local mountain weather forecast before you start your journey and be prepared to turn back if the weather gets worse. The mountains will still be here for you to enjoy the next time you come here.

“Dress appropriately. You will need strong boots, several layers of clothing including warm gloves, hat, and waterproof coat and trousers.

“Be aware of your ability; although you can enjoy walking in the mountains, it can be hard work, even on a sunny day in October. Be aware of what you want to do and plan your trip according to fitness and experience of the group, not as individuals.

“Therefore, as the days shorten and as the clocks will be turned back soon, it’s vital that walkers are thoroughly prepared before going out walking in the mountains.”

Heather Morning, mountain safety adviser with the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, said hillwalkers need to ‘winterise’ their packs now.

As the clocks go back, hill walkers should ‘winterise’ their packs

She said: “A headtorch is a crucial bit of kit for these shorter days.

Heather Morning: think about 'winterising' your kit

Heather Morning: think about 'winterising' your kit

“It can make the difference between getting home safely and spending the night out on the mountainside, lost or injured.

“Shorter daylight hours, dropping temperatures and the first dusting of snow on the hills are obvious indicators for hillwalkers to think about extra kit in their rucksacks.

“A headtorch, with a spare battery, is crucial just in case your chosen route takes a wee bit longer than expected.

“It’s also well worth considering putting away those lightweight, bendy summer boots and changing into a more rigid pair.

“Consider wearing extra layers of clothing too, with a synthetic duvet jacket and emergency shelter stored in the bottom of your rucksack just in case you are stationary on the hill for any length of time.

“And hats, gloves – I recommend at least two pairs – and face protection, such as a buff, will all add to your comfort on the hill as we move towards the winter season.

“Our autumn and winter weather is notoriously unpredictable and you won’t always wear this extra kit, but it should be there in your rucksack so that it’s available when you really do need it.”

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