The leaders of the 12 Lake District Mountain Rescue teams have thanked community fell walkers for their continued understanding and support over the past eight weeks.

This has seen people stick to low level walks for exercise, keeping mountain rescue team volunteers safe.

Only 11 incidents required mountain rescuers help since lockdown on March 23, compared to nearly 90 during the same period last year.

Richard Warren, chairman of Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association, said: “We fully appreciate that at some point we need to change our position following the more relaxed rules on travel for exercise.

“Although Cumbria and many other national parks are not ready yet to cope with the increased numbers of visitors, the visitors to the Lake District have increased dramatically, heading to the high fells in great numbers, and many very ill-prepared.

“We have therefore seen an increase in the numbers of callouts in the past two weeks and our teams are slowly becoming more proficient in the new way of working, providing casualty care and rescue.”

Teams across the county have adopted a robust procedure for protecting both casualties and volunteers; this is because both casualties and team members may have the virus but not yet be showing symptoms.

The procedures include wearing personal protective equipment, maintaining social distancing where possible and decontamination processes at the incident site.

Mr Warren added: “All this will inevitably slow down the rescue. This is unfortunately unavoidable and we ask for your patience and understanding if you are unfortunate in having an accident or medical emergency.

“We will come to your aid but it will take longer than usual. Becoming lost or overdue is fully avoidable and there is guidance provided below to help avoid having to call out the teams.”

Advice has been issued to help protect both walkers and volunteers.

Mr Warren continued: “Exercise within your limits and avoid taking risks. Know your level of skill, competence and experience and those of your partner. Make sure you have the right equipment for your trip to the hills and valleys - noting that many of our callouts are low down in the valley bottoms. Learn how to navigate, don’t rely on smart phone technology it can let you down.

“Take a torch, even on the longest days, you never know when your activity will catch you out or you go to the help of a fallen, cragfast or lost walker.”