Walkers on the path leading from Wasdale Head towards Scafell Pike. Photo: Joe Cornish/National Trust Images

Walkers on the path leading from Wasdale Head towards Scafell Pike. Photo: Joe Cornish/National Trust Images

Walkers heading for England’s highest peak face being quizzed on their preparedness.

Members of the public setting out for Scafell Pike on Sunday will be asked what gear and clothing they have and what weather they expect.

Mountain rescue callouts in the area are at an all-time high and the exercise at Wasdale Head is part of a joint effort to tackle the problem.

Rescuers are teaming up with police officers and the National Trust for the fact-finding event at Brackenclose car park, one of the main starting points for the ascent of the 978m (3,209ft) peak.

Those leaving the car park for a day in the hills will be asked about what they have packed to take with them, local weather conditions and how long their planned walk should take. Organisers said the intention is to learn from walkers and for walkers to have an even better day on the mountain.

Richard Warren, chairman of the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association and member of Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team said that many of the 140 callouts received by the Wasdale team last year were for Scafell Pike.

Already this year they have responded to 34 callouts including three fatalities and a serious injury on Friday 18 May. The last involved 11 team members, three rescue vehicles, an air ambulance and a Coastguard helicopter. Mr Warren anticipates the team’s 38 volunteers to be called out at least three to four times a week during the peak summer holiday period. He says this is potentially unstainable for a purely volunteer organisation.

He said: “We need to reduce the growing number of avoidable callouts with an effective education and awareness programme covering safety, personal responsibility and respect in the mountains and surrounding areas.”

Event organiser Marian Silvester, the National Trust’s general manager in the west Lakes said: “Our welcome staff, rangers and campsite team regularly talk to the thousands of visitors who climb Scafell Pike from Wasdale every year.

“We also provide route and weather information boards in Lake Head car park. It will be good to learn from our colleagues and walkers as part of partnership working. We all want people to have a great experience walking to the top of England’s highest mountain and back.”

Superintendent Matt Kennerley of Cumbria Constabulary said: “Walking Scafell Pike can be dangerous if you are ill-prepared for what may lie ahead. The priority of us all is to make sure that everyone who sets off on such an endeavour is able to return home safely at the end.

“The mountain rescue volunteers carry out an invaluable role in helping to bring those who get into difficulty back to safety. However, this Sunday’s engagement activity will hopefully help raise awareness of the potential difficulties and reduce the likelihood of more people getting into trouble and requiring help.”

The county’s police and crime commissioner Peter McCall will also attend for part of the exercise.

He said: “ It will be helpful for us all to understand a bit more about the range of experience and knowledge of the walkers who will be setting off to climb Scafell Pike – not least to get people thinking about the level of challenge they are about to face and how prepared they are for it.

“It is not about spoiling people’s fun but about listening to walkers, understanding their expectations, and ultimately about people having a safe and enjoyable experience.”

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