The Lake District National Park Authority’s Fell Top Assessors are celebrating 35 years of the Weatherline service, supported by the Mountain Rescue service to kick off this year’s Fell Top season.
Each day between now and Easter, including Christmas Day, one of the Fell Top Assessor team will summit Helvellyn to give a ‘boots on the ground’ condition report, helping to keep people safe when venturing out on winter walks.
The Weatherline Service started 35 years ago when the Fell Top Assessors first made the daily trip to the top of Helvellyn and had to phone in their report from a phone box when they got back down.
Nowadays, the Fell Top Assessor report, coupled with the weather forecast, is essential reading for anyone heading out for winter walking. It’s avidly read by the assessors’ 23,500k followers on their @LakesWeather Twitter account and on www.lakedistrictweatherline.co.uk. The team is also reminding all Lake District visitors that while it might be mild and green in the lower ground, temperatures are already dropping on the fell tops.
The longest serving Fell Top Assessor, Jon Bennett, said: “This is now my 15th season as a Lake District National Park Authority Fell Top Assessor and I’m as excited now as I was on my very first day. I know what a real difference we make to keeping people safe on the fells during the winter and we do our best to offer important safety messages and inspirational images throughout the season. There’s already been some snow on the tops and the temperatures have started to fall so it’s all systems go for winter conditions.”
Jon joins Zac Poulton and Wes Hunter to make up the Fell Top Assessor team who will climb the 950m to the summit of Helvellyn to provide a detailed condition report.
The Lake District’s Mountain Rescue Teams have attended 600 rescues this year so far and of these 30 per cent of them were preventable.
John Chapman, LDSAMRA Operations Lead, and Kirkby Stephen Mountain Rescue team member, joined the Fell Top Assessors for the season launch. He said: “It has been one of the busiest years on record for our rescue teams and we know that the winter brings with it new challenges. We would urge anyone who intends to venture out on the fells to make sure they are Adventure Smart and have the right skills and equipment, and to read the Fell Top Assessors report so they know what the ground conditions are likely to be.”
The Fell Top Assessor team also offer a range of Winter Skills Courses which cater for one to one and group sessions. For each event, the Fell Top Assessor will guide participants on a route up the mountain, chosen according to snow and weather conditions and the ability of the group members, teaching the basic skills of snowcraft needed for safe winter walking in the fells and mountains of the UK. The days are strenuous, informative, challenging and a lot of fun. For more information on this please visit www.lakedistrictweatherline.co.uk.