Rescuers and the Coastguard helicopter at the scene on Dow Crag. Photo: Coniston MRT

Rescuers and the Coastguard helicopter at the scene on Dow Crag. Photo: Coniston MRT

Rescuers pleaded with visitors to stick to lockdown rules after a climber had to be rescued when he got stuck on a Lake District crag.

Coniston Mountain Rescue Team was called out on Tuesday to Dow Crag, where the lone climber got into difficulties.

The team pleaded with visitors to stick to government guidelines for taking exercise, as the area prepared to enter tier-four restrictions. It added police had issued penalties to people who had been rescued and had travelled in contravention of rules.

Cumbria police alerted the team about half an hour before sunset.

The team said the evening was sunny but freezing, with some snow on the felltops and some ice on paths.

Coniston MRT said a badly parked car in the Fell Gate car park was blocking access to Walna Scar Road. A spokesperson said: “A team member managed to persuade the car driver to move before our Land Rovers arrived.”

The team said the man on Dow Crag had no climbing gear with him and was on C Buttress, probably attempting the C-Ordinary route. “He had climbed past some ice and saw more above, hence decided he was stuck, and so called for help. Two team members were on the adjacent hill, and were quickly at the bottom of the crag.

“We despatched two Land Rovers to drive as far as we could, and walked the rest of the way to Dow with all our crag rescue and night gear.

“With daylight limited and a long crag rescue likely into the night, we asked for helicopter assistance, and Rescue 936, Coastguard S-92 from Caernarfon, was tasked to help.

“They arrived overhead and, due to concerns over the downwash from the helicopter blowing the climber off the crag, the crew had a practice on a nearby crag first. They formulated a plan and decided to go ahead with an inch-perfect display of precision night flying. The crew have our admiration for a job well done.”

The incident lasted just over three hours and involved 17 Coniston MRT volunteers.

While the team was in action, it was alerted to another incident, on the lower slopes of the Old Man of Coniston.

A woman had fallen and hurt her ankle in a fall near Boo Tarn, close to Bursting Stone Quarry.

A number of team members were diverted to the scene in a Land Rover.

The spokesperson said: “The casualty had self-administered some pain relief before we arrived.

“She was assessed and carried on our stretcher down to our vehicle. She was then returned to her party’s vehicle for onward transport to Lancaster hospital.”

The 2½ rescue involved 10 team members.

Coniston MRT said members of the public who were disregarding Covid-19 guidelines were putting team volunteers at risk.

Writing on social media, the team said: “In line with other Lake District mountain rescue teams, we have again been called out to rescue people who should not be here.

“The whole country is in the middle of a pandemic and there are restrictions on what you can do and where you can go. If you are in a tier-three or four area you should not be travelling except for work and other essential reasons.

“Going for a walk in the Lake District is not one of those reasons. Unlike the first lockdown, you are not allowed to travel for exercise.

“People travelling to walk and climb in the Lake District are putting lives at risk, and not just their own. If you have the virus and have to be rescued every member of the rescue party will have to isolate for 10 days. This will prevent those team members from coming to the aid of other people in distress.

“If any of the team members then become ill or even test positive then other members of their families will then have to isolate. Some of those people are NHS workers who will no longer be able to go to work and look after patients.

“We are not being elitists; we are not trying to keep the hills to ourselves; we are trying to look after each other and do our bit to try to control this terrible disease.

“It does not matter whether the government rules are legally enforceable or not. If everyone had followed the rules this situation would have been under control many months ago and we would not be in the situation that we now find ourselves in where thousands of people in the UK have died unnecessarily.

“Cumbria police have already fined people that we have had to rescue in recent days for travelling here from tier-three areas of Lancashire. Please stay at home if you are told to; it’s very simple.”

With the Westminster government announcement of further extensions of area in tier-four restrictions from midnight on Wednesday, Coniston MRT pointed out the Lake District would be out of bounds to people who lived outside Cumbria.

It said: “Due to the government announcement this afternoon, the whole of Cumbria has now been placed into tier four. Please take particular notice of the rule about exercise: you can travel a short distance within your tier-four area.

“It does not mean you can travel from the other end of the country from one tier-four area to another. Please stay at home as much as possible.

“We will continue to rescue people in trouble on the fells, we always will when we can, but be aware that the more people we have to recover from the fells then the greater the chances that our numbers will be reduced because members have to self-isolate due to contact with casualties who have coronavirus.

“This may mean a delay in attending to the next casualty.”

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