The joys of the Great British outdoors are being discovered by more people than ever at the moment. After the travel restrictions of the pandemic years, the countryside became a popular retreat for both recreation, exercise, and solace. Many people have been surprised by just how breathtakingly beautiful the wild areas of Britain are!
Now this year, the unpredictable situation at air and sea ports around the country, combined with the cost-of-living crisis, has led to the staycation remaining a popular choice. This is to be welcomed of course, but mountain rescue teams around the UK are reporting that they are experiencing record numbers of callouts.
Mountain rescue teams operate 24/7 in challenging conditions to save people who have got into difficulty on the UK’s hills, dales, and mountains. They are staffed and run almost entirely by volunteers and charitable donations, and are now bracing themselves for a very busy summer.
If you are heading to the hills this year, there are some important safety tips to bear in mind. For example, mountain rescuers report that by far the most common reason for callouts is because people have climbed a mountain in unsuitable footwear. Boots or trainers with sturdy rubber soles that fit well are the best option.
If you are planning on wearing a new pair of boots for your hike, break them in as much as possible before your trip. Blisters can really ruin a good walk, as every step you take is painful. Even if you set off in fine weather, always pack a waterproof and some spare warm clothing, as the conditions can change very quickly on the mountains.
It’s important to research the route carefully before you go. Are there any extra steep or rocky sections, which may need scrambling skills, or even ropes? Make sure that it matches the technical abilities and fitness levels of everyone in your party. Plot out your route in advance, so you don’t accidently stray into dangerous territory.
Keep an eye on the local weather forecasts closely before you set off, and be flexible. Walking in wet windy weather will detract from your enjoyment, and will be more hazardous. Rocks will become slippery, and if a mist descends on the mountain, you may have trouble navigating your way safely down.
Take more food and drink than you think you will need, just in case the worst happens, and you end up out for much longer than you thought. Include some high energy snack foods, such as flapjacks, dark chocolate, and nuts and raisins.
Other important safety items include a torch or headlight, in case you get lost or delayed and darkness begins to fall. They can also be used to attract attention if you do get into difficulties. A basic first aid kit, multi-tool penknife, and a fully charged mobile phone are also important to have.
Finally, always tell someone where you are going, and be prepared to turn back if the weather turns bad.
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