Off the beaten track

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country -

Last year, moun­tain-res­cue teams in the Lake Dis­trict re­ceived a record num­ber of call­outs for emer­gency aid, many of which they have termed ‘en­tirely avoid­able’—i.e. some­one in jeans and de­signer train­ers, armed with only GPS sig­nal, who has got lost, some­times fa­tally. there have been 10 walk­ing-re­lated deaths there this year alone, an in­crease of 66% on 2017. Only this month, a party of 18 got lost on 3,209ft scafell Pike and were head­ing to­wards a no­to­ri­ous ac­ci­dent blackspot when they alerted the emer­gency ser­vices.

With its coun­try pubs, his­toric vil­lages and breath­tak­ing scenery, the area, termed by Wil­liam Wordsworth ‘the loveli­est spot that man hath found’, is Bri­tain’s most pop­u­lar na­tional park and con­tin­ues to be a huge draw for both lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional tourists. Now, to mit­i­gate dan­ger and time-wasters, moun­tain­res­cue ex­perts have drawn up a map that grades the most pop­u­lar foot­paths by level of dif­fi­culty as well as length, much like ski runs.

the Na­tional trust and the Lake Dis­trict Na­tional Park author­ity are ‘very re­luc­tant to have signs on moun­tains,’ ex­plains Richard War­ren, re­gional chair­man of the Lake Dis­trict search and Res­cue as­so­ci­a­tion, but ‘they have ac­cepted that there need to be bet­ter signs in the car parks’, which could in­di­cate the colour­coded routes. Many oth­ers are re­luc­tant to do any­thing that would af­fect the rugged na­ture of the open fells, but cairns mark­ing the safest routes down from the tops of moun­tains may be a less jar­ring al­ter­na­tive to signs.

Mr War­ren would also like to en­cour­age peo­ple to think about ‘what they should be wear­ing and what they should be car­ry­ing when they go on the moun­tains, in­clud­ing the things that are crit­i­cal, such as a map, com­pass and a torch’, which ‘could save your life’.

Re­spect the moun­tain: colour-cod­ing pop­u­lar walks could save the un­pre­pared from harm

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