24 July 2019
Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team is one of 12 teams covering Cumbria and it’s also one of the busiest. From our base near Glenridding, we responded to 83 call outs in 2018. Made up of volunteers and available 24/7, our Team is reliant on donations and fundraising from supporters.
The Lake District National Park Authority appreciates the hard work of our volunteers and has kindly donated the proceeds of its Ullswater Information Centre from the Easter Bank Holiday Monday.
British weather is notoriously changeable but that never seems to discourage walkers in the Lake District and the longer, lighter days are ideal for taking to the fells. With a few simple preparations and a bit of thought when packing your bag, you can enjoy a walk in any weather and return home safe having had a great day. There’s a campaign running at the moment encouraging people to be #AdventureSmart and it asks just three key questions.
Even when it’s warm in the valley, it can be surprising how quickly you get cold when you stop, particularly if there’s a breeze, so a lightweight wind (and shower) proof top is worth carrying. And keep clothing loose, layered and lightweight so that you don’t overheat but can keep warm if you need to rest or wait at any point.
Just as a hat in winter can keep you warm, so a simple baseball cap or brimmed hat in summer can give your face and neck a bit of shade from the sun. A hat will reduce the risk of sun or heatstroke too and, combined with plenty of sun cream with a reasonable SPF (at least 15), should protect your skin. Out in the mountains, there’s often a deceptive breeze and it’s easy to get badly sun burnt without noticing what’s happening until it’s too late.
It’s worth checking on a local weather forecast and, ideally, the mountain forecast too. That’ll give you information about any rain or cloud levels as well as the impact of wind on walkers on the tops.
Summer storms are worth considering as thunder and lightning are no fun when walking outdoors. If you do get caught in a storm, the key advice is to avoid being the tallest point on a hill, seek shelter but avoid metal fences or sheds and abandon exposed pointed metal items like fishing rods, walking poles or even rucksacks.
Navigation is key and mountain rescuers would always recommend that you learn to use a map and compass and then carry them on your walk. That way, assuming you have a torch in your bag as well, you can keep your mobile phone for an emergency rather than using it for other things and ending up with no battery power. Plan your route, work out options to shorten it if things take longer than you expect and never be afraid of turning back – the mountains will be there for another day.
Map and compass – Being able to give your accurate location is a key piece of information if you ever have to call out mountain rescue – and maps and compasses don’t need a signal or battery power. Learning to navigate is an essential skill for walkers and there are plenty of people, apps and books keen to show you how.
Waterproof – Remember that the British weather can change very quickly so keep a waterproof jacket in your bag, just in case. It’ll also help to keep you warm if it’s windy on the tops and doesn’t need to be too heavy as long as it’s effective.
Extra layer – Whether it’s a lightweight fleece or an extra base T-shirt, it’s worth having a spare layer in your bag so that you can keep warm if the weather changes, if it’s colder higher up and, of course, in case you have to sit and wait for rescue. Make it long-sleeved and you have a cover up in case of sunburn too.
Liquids – Dehydration is no fun and quickly saps your energy so, in spite of a bit of extra weight, it’s worth carrying plenty of water. Having it in a “camelback” or similar carrier encourages lots of regular sips but a couple of water bottles, used regularly, are equally as useful.
This may sound like a lot to consider but it’s all about making a good summer day in the fells even better. Blue skies, sunshine and a breeze make for great walking weather but the mountains still need to be taken seriously. Let’s hope we see plenty of sunshine this summer and enjoy it – Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team are there if you need us!
For lots more advice about making a good day even better, have a look at the #beadventuresmart website at www.adventuresmart.uk.