The Lake District National Park’s Fell Top Assessor team return today for the 2020 winter season. They might just have one of the most socially distanced roles in the UK. Long before this year’s coronavirus pandemic the Fell Top Assessors have been used to working in solitary conditions to keep walkers safe on the fells.
With a job as unique as this, there’s no way our fell top assessors can work from home. Each day between now and April one of them will brave the Lake District weather to get to the summit of Helvellyn. From there they will collate a ‘boots on the ground’ condition report to help keep walkers and outdoor enthusiasts safe over the winter months.
There’s some uncertainty over Christmas throughout the country but it’s more of the same for Fell Top Assessor, Jon Bennett, as he’s had a socially distanced Christmas most years over his twelve seasons and is on the rota to do the Christmas day shift this year too.
Today marks the start of the 2020 winter season and this year, more importantly than ever, the team will be providing an invaluable safety service for people who may not be used to the fells in the winter.
Fell Top Assessor Zac Poulton said: “This year has been strange for us all, but I’m delighted to get back to a job I love doing. As we’ve seen many new visitors to the National Park over the summer months, I think it’s more important than ever to ensure that people know that the fells in the winter are a very different place. You do need to be prepared with the weather and condition forecast, the knowledge, skills and equipment and also be aware of your own capabilities.
Jon Bennett commented: “I’m really encouraged that many more people have found the benefits of the great outdoors and nature and are keen to explore the Lake District. Health and wellbeing is particularly important during these times. We will work hard to make sure that they can #summitsafely through the winter months.”
And last year’s new recruit Wes Hunter added: “I know that we’re incredibly lucky to have Helvellyn as our ‘office’ and this year many people who may usually visit the Lake District won’t be able to, so we’ll do our best to throw in some stunning landscape photos on social media as well as our important safety advice to let others enjoy what we can each day.”
During the coronavirus pandemic please follow the current Government guidelines in regards to local tier levels and travelling advice.
In addition to the daily report that the team shares on www.lakedistrictweatherline.co.uk and on twitter @LakesWeather, they also offer a winter skills course which can be booked to teach people how to properly use their winter equipment and what to do if you venture out on to the fells in snowy or icy conditions.
Lake District Weatherline is sponsored by Petzl, Mountain Hardware, La Sportiva, Julbo, Cicerone and Holidaycottages.co.uk.
Our photo shows: Lake District National Park Authority Fell Top Assessors (l-r) Jon Bennett, Wes Hunter and Zac Poulton with Helvellyn in the background, which was taken prior to the coronavirus pandemic.