Staycations became a big buzzword in 2010, but an unexpected side effect was the large increase in Mountain Rescue callouts especially in the Lake District.
Tourist boards made a big thing about the increase in people staying in this country to holiday during 2010, but this unexpected and rather unreported side effect has put a strain on the service which is purely run by volunteers with all equipment and vehicles paid for out of donations.
Nick Owen, team leader and a youth hostel manager in Ambleside put the increase partly down to the staycation promotions and the TV programmes which are encouraging people to get out and about in the countryside. He said “I’m all for that. I won’t knock anything that brings anyone to the area”, but noted that people are possibly taking risks beyond their experience and think they’ll be whisked off a mountain in minutes if they get into trouble.
“People think they’ll be popped down the hill in a helicopter rather than having to endure the five-hour bounce down – but that’s not the case.”, Nick Owen said.
Enjoying the fells: If treated properly, the Lake District fells are of course a great place to explore and have some of the best views anywhere in the country, even from the lower fells. The following was advice I was given by my late uncle who was an experienced rock climber and longterm member of the Kendal Mountain Rescue Team.
Keeping safe on the fells:
- Watch the weather forecasts before setting out as the weather on the fells is very different to the valleys.
- Make sure you take decent quality fleeces and especially footware, ie: trainers for Skafell Pike = bad news!
- Take a couple of mobile phones ideally on different networks (Vodafone works best in the Lake District).
- If going anywhere more than the lower fells, leave a route plan with someone.
- Please remember, it costs about £10,000 to send one of those RAF helicopters out every time.