Rescuers worked out the group was below Three Tarns, between Crinkle Crags and Bowfell. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Rescuers worked out the group was below Three Tarns, between Crinkle Crags and Bowfell. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Rescuers pointed out the limitations of the What3words application after a group of walkers called for help when they got lost on the Lakeland fells.

The party of eight rang 999 on Saturday evening to say they were in difficulties in the central fells.

Police contacted Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team at 9.20pm to say the walkers had lost their mobile phone signals, leaving them unable to navigate.

An initial What3words location supplied by the group placed them at Green Hole near the upper reaches of Lingcove Beck. The walkers said they were experienced and uninjured but were wet and cold and did not have enough food and water.

They told police they would attempt to make their way back to their car in Langdale.

A team spokesperson said: “Then the call to the police cut out and the team leader was unable to contact them, so no further information was available.

“Numerous PhoneFinds and texts did not reach them, so with such a lack of information about their abilities and wellbeing, a limited callout was made.

“The party made a second call to the police to say they had found a path. That second What3words put them outside the UK, but with some experimenting with the words by a team member, a second location put them 50m up the hill towards Three Tarns.”

The Langdale and Ambleside team, which was just returning from another callout, was alerted and the Wasdale team were stood down.

The lost walkers finally made it back to Langdale about 2.30am on Sunday.

The incident lasted just over five hours and involved eight Wasdale MRT volunteers.

What3words is a proprietary application that divides the world into 3×3-metre squares and assigns a three-word code to each square. Unlike the OS grid system, the words are not sequential and are allocated using a fixed algorithm.

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