A LAKE District mountain rescue team leader has condemned the actions of a group of inadequately prepared walkers who got lost climbing on England's highest mountain at night.

The party of ten set off from Wasdale Head at 7.15pm on Saturday and in deteriorating weather conditions contacted the police some seven hours later to declare themselves lost.

Volunteers from the Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team responded after they were informed by the police that the trekkers did not have a map or compass. They were eventually located on Piers Gill, a notorious accident blackspot on Scafell Pike.

Richard Warner, press officer for WMRT, said that with the weather deteriorating and winds speeds reaching up to 60 miles per hour there could have been fatalities.

"The walkers were in potentially a very dangerous place," said Mr Warner. "With the conditions they were in their experience was simply inadequate.

"They shouldn't have relied on smart technology as much and today everyone has such a huge reliance on their smart phone."

The rescue operation was led by duty team leader Penny Kirkby who managed to lead the walkers off the mountain safely through a GPS tracking system.

"They were near the top of Piers Gill, in one of our blackspot areas," said Mrs Kirkby. "I managed to send a text to one of the walkers and they would then click on it and that way I could track them and lead them on to a path off the mountain.

"I was in contact with them for quite a while but I didn't hear from them when they were near the bottom so I just assumed they were okay."

After posting details of the rescue on social media WMRT received a lot of praise for its work. One of the walkers from the group responded to the post thanking the team for their help. The walker wrote that they were fully equipped and as a team they do 'regularly walk the mountains.'

He also mentioned that the previous day the group had completed Ben Nevis in Scotland - Britain's highest mountain - and that they would 'never intentionally put themselves at risk.'

According to Mr Warner WMRT has received more than 100 call-outs this year and most of them could have been avoidable.

"We're getting more people from outside of Cumbria with no experience or idea on how to tackle our mountains," he said. "All our mountain rescuers are highly trained un-paid volunteers and they all have families, children and jobs. We are risking their lives sending them out on these rescues. "

Mr Warner wants to remind the public that the mountains can be a dangerous place regardless of experience.

"The mountain is not a playground," he said. "We really want to advise walkers, of any experience, not to venture when the weather is bad. And if you do go on a hike, have the necessary tools with you not just your smart phone as it will more than likely let you down. Take a water-proof map, a compass and a wind up torch."