MOUNTAIN rescue volunteers are on a mission to reduce the number of ‘avoidable’ incidents on the Lake District fells.

It comes as a report from the The Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association (LDSAMRA) said teams dealt with a record number of more than 650 emergency 999 calls last year - a 20 per cent rise from 2017.

Many of those calling had ‘unwittingly put themselves in danger’ by not being fully prepared.

A new multi-agency awareness campaign has been launched aimed at helping people get more properly prepared and trained for time spent in the outdoors.

LDSAMRA has been instrumental in the development and promotion of a new educational website designed to reduce the volume of unnecessary call-outs.

It prompts those going out on the fells to check the weather and their equipment and asks whether they are confident about going into the hills with their level of knowledge and skills.

Richard Warren, chairman of LDSAMRA and Wasdale MRT volunteer, said the Lakes was one of the “busiest regions in the country” and the volunteer teams were doing more “back to back rescues” on a regular basis.

“We will never say no to a rescue,” he said. “But it has become more physically demanding due to the number of rescues that we are doing.”

The LDSAMRA annual report said nearly 200 of last year’s call-outs could have been avoided if people were better prepared.

“Some people go out having done no research about the area,” said Mr Warren. “There have been cases where people haven’t brought the right clothing or packed enough food or water. If we could reduce the ‘avoidable’ call-outs by 20 per cent it would be good.”

Nick Owen, team leader of Langdale Ambleside MRT, said the AdventureSmart campaign was mainly for people living outside of the area.

“We don’t want to preach to the converted,” he said. “We live in an environment that not everyone is used to and with the number of visitors growing year on year I am hopeful this will help.”

Last November a large group of walkers became lost on Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England, at 3am after attempting to do the popular Three Peaks Challenge in 24 hours. It was reported that the group did not have a map or compass. They were eventually found on Piers Gill, a notorious accident blackspot.

“Tourists need looking after,” said Mr Warren. “I am convinced this campaign will help reduce the number of ‘avoidable’ call-outs as people will become more educated and better prepared.”

Adrian Cottrell, team leader of Kirkby Stephen MRT, said he was certain the appeal would help all MRTS.

To access the appeal search for AdventureSmart online. .