Illgill Head, Whin Rigg and the Wastwater Screes, scene of numerous rescues

Illgill Head, Whin Rigg and the Wastwater Screes, scene of numerous rescues

Two walkers were rescued after getting stuck on steep ground on a Lake District fell.

Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team was called out on Tuesday to a rescue blackspot above Wast Water.

The pair became cragfast after they headed up the fellside while trying to negotiate the shore path over Wastwater Screes.

Team members set up a rope rescue from Whin Rigg in an operation lasting more than 5½ hours. 19 volunteer members of Wasdale MRT took part in the rescue.

A team spokesperson said: “It is worth noting that the two walkers were stuck in a position where we have rescued people before who have tried to go above the screes. The path such as it is stays fairly close to the lake shore.”

Wasdale MRT has safety advice for walkers tackling the Wastwater Screes path.

It says: “The Wasdale Screes are an area of unstable, loose boulders on the far, east, bank of Wast Water, underneath Illgill Head and Whin Rigg.

“Walking around Wast Water can be a pleasant outing for those prepared for the screes but there have been many incidents in this area for those who underestimated the difficulties.

“Most of the incidents relate to people and often dogs that get stuck in the boulder field at the southern end of the lake, underneath Whin Rigg. This is due to the size of the boulders and distance between them that can require jumping or other athletic moves to make progress.

“The dogs tend to be big ones, such as alsatians. We assume the smaller ones get carried? There is a faint path through this section marked by some small cairns and wear on the rock. However it can be hard to follow unless you know what you are looking for.

“It remains fairly close to the lake shore, within around 50m but does undulate through this section. Many people have lost the path and ended up trying to climb up before getting stuck in loose ground. As there is no solid ground in this area rescues generally consist of getting people to walk down again, on a ‘dog lead’ rope is this helps their confidence.

“Some people on encountering the boulder field try to outflank it above. There is no safe route up here. The higher you go the more difficult it tends to get, both for them and us.

“More unusual, but serious, are a smaller number of rescues where people have tried to take a short cut from around the summit of Whin Rigg down towards the lake. They then get stuck in the crags and gullies in this area where rescue is a major undertaking. The safe route is to continue along the path towards Great Hall Gill and then either descend the path here, steep but a lot safer or continue on towards Irton Fell.”

There is more safety advice for the fells in the Wasdale and Eskdale area on the team’s website.

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