Fell Top Assessors assemble for 2021 season launch

Published on: 02 Dec 2021

All three Fell Top Assessors on Helvellyn.

The Lake District’s three Fell Top Assessors met today for the one and only time this winter for the 2021 season launch.

The Fell Top Assessors’ daily walk to the summit of Helvellyn to produce a detailed condition report is a vital safety feature for those who are looking to venture out on the fells this winter.

This key Weatherline service, which has been running for 34 years, will give those heading to the fells all the information they need about the ground and weather conditions that day, so they can #SummitSafely. Full reports and photos are shared on Twitter by the Fell Top Assessors during their mountain hike on @LakesWeather and also online lakedistrictweatherline.co.uk

Lake District National Park Authority Fell Top Assessor, Zac Poulton said: “As many people have connected with nature in the Lake District over the past 18 months, it’s important to know that the Lake District of the summer is very different to the Lake District of the winter. People who are new to winter walking should make sure that they are adventure smart and ask themselves three questions before setting off:

  • Do I have the right gear?
  • Do I know what the weather will be like?
  • Do I have the correct knowledge and skills?”

Jon Bennett – now in his 14th season of being a National Park Authority Fell Top Assessor - added: “The fells tend to be much quieter in winter and you need to navigate more for yourself, rather than following the crowd. The daylight hours are much shorter, meaning you do need to make sure you have the core skills and equipment to be prepared to get back down off the fell in good time.

“We say it every year but the single most important safety message is to know when to turn back. The fells will be there another day and it’s important that you don’t take unnecessary risks and always be prepared to summit safely.”

Wes Hunter, who completes the Lake District National Park Authority’s Fell Top Assessor Team said: “We know how important it is to get outside for your health and wellbeing but we really ask people to make sure they are suitably prepared. The last thing we want to see is the volunteer mountain rescue services having to be called out for something that is avoidable.

“During the season, we’ll also be inspiring people with some stunning wintry photos along the way so that if they can’t get to the Lake District we can give them a flavour of the fells.”

To complement the Weatherline service and daily Fell Top Assessor condition reports, the Lake District National Park Authority is launching a new seasonal safety campaign to help visitors make the most of their time in the Lake District.

Look out for safety hints and tips from various well known Lake District adventurers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok and follow the Adventuresmart guidelines.

Fell top facts:

  • The three Fell Top Assessors will be working alternate shifts to make the walk 950m up Helvellyn every day during the winter, including Christmas day
  • In addition to being lucky enough to take in the breath-taking views every day, the assessors brave the rain, snow and wind chill as low as - 23°C to record temperature, snow depth, wind speed, underfoot conditions and assess risks, including potential avalanches.
  • The online service helps protect 19 million visitors and locals from conditions that can change rapidly and fatally on the fells.
  • Although Helvellyn is not the highest peak in the Lakes, it was selected as it is the most popular fell and has a large east facing headwall that retains the snow and ice.
  • Assessors’ reports are combined with Met Office mountain forecasts to give the fullest possible picture.
  • Fell Top Assessors’ kit is sponsored by La Sportive, Mountain Hardwear, Petzl and Julbo.

Photo shows Fell Top Assessors, Wes Hunter, Zac Poulton and Jon Bennett at this year's winter season launch.

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