Hilgoers need to consider their kit and skill level as winter approaches. Photo: Mountaineering Scotland

Hilgoers need to consider their kit and skill level as winter approaches. Photo: Mountaineering Scotland

The more perceptive outdoor enthusiasts will notice darkness falling earlier from Sunday.

British summer time ends at 2am on 29 October, and mountain experts are encouraging hillgoers to adapt their plans to acknowledge the change to shorter daylight hours and colder conditions.

Outdoor fans should, as a minimum, ensure they pack a charged-up headtorch, preferably a spare too.

Ross Cadie, senior mountain safety advisor at Mountaineering Scotland, said: “With the clocks going back, it is a timely reminder of both the joys of mountain adventures in autumn and winter, as well as the need to go prepared for rapid changes in conditions.

“Making sure that you have a fully charged, good quality headtorch is vital. And, if you are expecting or planning to spend time out in the dark, either with an early start or a late finish, then having a second headtorch, and spare batteries, would be an excellent idea.”

But it’s not only a headtorch which is an essential addition to any hillwalker’s kit this season. Mr Cadie said: “This season brings colder, wetter and windier weather, so packing that extra warm layer and adding thicker, better waterproofs will make life more comfortable and enjoyable when out on the hills and mountains.”

It’s also important to prepare in case anything should go wrong, including adding emergency supplies to your backpack. The Mountaineering Scotland adviser added: “Having things in your bag that you can use to look after yourself is really important too. The colder weather means that you will need to have items that can keep you warm and sheltered from the elements if you need to wait for help.

“I would suggest carrying a group shelter, extra warm layer, a spare hat and pair of gloves, and a bothy bag, as well as the usual first aid kit, phone and whistle.”

The advice was echoed by Northumberland National Park and North of Tyne Mountain Rescue Teams along with partner agencies, who are asking members of the public to ‘Be Adventure Smart’ as the clocks go back.

“We want people to make a good day better by thinking about some key things.” Iain Nixon, NNPMRT team leader, said. “As the clocks go back and we get fewer daylight hours, what people pack in their rucksacks becomes key.

“It’s time to dig out your torch, check the batteries and throw that in your bag along with extra warm layers such as hats, gloves and a fleece. Everyone uses their mobiles for taking photos and a lot of people use them for navigation now, but don’t rely on them.

“Having a map and compass and the know-how to use them will get people out of a tricky situation when your phone has run out of power.

“Planning for short days and looking how the weather might affect your plans is a part of planning for a good day.”

He reminded members of the public how they can contact mountain rescue if they need to. “In an emergency, dial 999, ask for ‘police’ and then ‘mountain rescue’. A mountain rescue volunteer will give you advice on what you should do until the team arrives.”

Donald MacRae, vice-chair of Scottish Mountain Rescue said: “The winter months can be a fantastic time of year to get out into the mountains. However, it can present greater challenges.

“Make sure you are well equipped and know how to use kit such as an ice-axe and crampons. Check the weather forecast; think how the weather will impact on your day. There is nothing wrong in turning back. Ensure someone knows where you are going, what time you expect to return and what to do if you do not return.

“In winter, the sooner we are contacted the better. Our volunteer teams will assist any hour, any day, any weather.”

Advice is available on the AdventureSmart website. Mountaineering Scotland is also running night-navigation courses during November. Details are on its site.

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