The group of children was found huddled on the scree. Photo: Keswick MRT

The group of children was found huddled on the scree. Photo: Keswick MRT

A group of schoolchildren was rescued from England’s third-highest mountain after getting into difficulties in winter conditions.

One pupil suffered injuries when he slid down a snow slope.

Rescuers warned that, despite benign conditions in the valleys, the Lake District mountain tops are still in full winter condition.

Keswick Mountain Rescue Team was called out about 5.25pm on Thursday when the group called 999 from Helvellyn.

The team said the party of 13 children and two adults had made the ascent of the mountain from the west side.

A team spokesperson said: “Their route to the summit involved a lot of movement over snow slopes and they then returned ‘off piste’ down steep snow patches and by scrambling over rocky scree.

“Unfortunately, the slope they chose is convex and consequently steepens as you descend. Without crampons or ice-axes to arrest any fall, the group made their way downhill as best they could on the hard snow until one of the group slid out of control coming to rest some 60-80ft lower down, but not before hitting his face and breaking his nose along with breaking a couple of fingers.”

The group called 999 but could not give an exact location. The information given was that a member of the group had slid 50m and had sustained head injuries. Two Keswick MRT vehicles left base and made their way to Swirls car park from where they started to climb towards Helvellyn knowing only that the missing party were somewhere between them and the summit.

A Coastguard helicopter was also called due to the potential seriousness of the incident.

Rescuers support one of the group across the slope. Photo: Keswick MRT

Rescuers support one of the group across the slope. Photo: Keswick MRT

The spokesperson said: “Control were later able to make further contact with the group and were then told that one of the party, on seeing the fall had run off downhill and had not been seen since. Further team members were subsequently tasked to find the missing person who was later found by police.

“It was now dark as team members approached the steep section of Browncove Crags. Voices were heard off to the right of the path on the slopes known as Helvellyn Screes and after donning crampons to negotiate the steep and hard snow slopes the team members found the group huddled in small groups on scree ledges.”

Team members cut steps in the snow slope while rescuers tended to the injured boy. The uninjured children, who were cold and damp, were accompanied one-by-one across the slope to safer ground.

The spokesperson said: “Once the casualty had had his hand splinted and injuries assessed, he was able to walk with assistance. With one team member on either side the casualty was walked off along with the rest of the group back to the main path.

“A reminder that despite that rare sun appearing in the sky, green fields and daffodils emerging down in the valleys the fells are in full winter condition and those venturing above the snow line should be suitably clothed, experienced and prepared.”

The incident involved 22 Keswick MRT volunteers and lasted more than four hours.

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