A ‘TIDAL wave’ of ‘avoidable’ mountain incidents in the Lake District in the last week has led to a plea from rescue teams for responsible behaviour from walkers.

Richard Warren, chairman of the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association, said incidents included five rescue teams being called out at the weekend in ‘forecasted atrocious weather’ to rescue a family of three on Scafell Pike.

Mr Warren described 11 of the 19 callouts between Friday and his statement on Tuesday as ‘truly avoidable’, with ‘inexperienced and ill-prepared walkers finding themselves in serious, life-threatening trouble being either missing or lost’.

“The Cumbria weather which was accurately forecasted this weekend has caught out many, but Cumbria Police have also commented that many are dialling in ‘999’ calls with as little as 1 per cent battery remaining on their mobile phones,” he said.

“This means that after the initial call their battery dies and the mountain rescue team cannot get back to them, which makes finding them a bigger challenge requiring more numbers of the volunteers.

“Many are relying on smartphone mapping apps, which drain batteries, and no back-up.”

“Stay-vacation holidays are introducing a new type of visitor to the national parks and the current quarantine rules have the potential to make the matter worse.

“Exercise within your limits and avoid taking risks. Know your level of skill, competence and experience and those of your group.”

At around 2pm on Monday, a group of ‘pre-university school leavers’ called for help en route to Scafell Pike, having done Snowdon and planning to do Ben Nevis in the following days.

However, poor conditions impeded their progress along the Corridor Route and they were becoming ‘seriously cold’, while one of the walkers’ rain ponchos had blown away in the wind.

A spokesman for Keswick Mountain Rescue Team (KMRT) said the walkers retreated to the shelter box at Sty Head Pass and sent an accurate location to rescuers using the What3words application.

Passing walkers who found them there provided spare clothing and encouraged them to keep walking down to try and generate some warmth.

The teenagers obliged and were met by rescuers, who provided extra clothing, food and drink.

The KMRT spokesman said: “The three were walked back down to the valley and given a long lecture about mountain preparedness, weather and safety.

“The lads were humble, apologetic, receptive and have certainly learnt a lot from their experience. They promised to get things right for ‘the Ben’.”

Other callouts in the last week highlighted the vital work mountain rescue teams perform, although some of these were not necessarily ‘avoidable’. Examples include:

- A man sustained a broken ankle near Potts Gill, in the northern fells, ‘back of Skiddaw’ area. He was given pain relief before being stretchered down to a rescue team vehicle and taken to an ambulance.

- On Sunday, a woman, 76, overbalanced while resting on a bike ride at Dodd Wood, near Keswick. She ‘fell sideways and badly injured her hip’. A group of passing mountain bikers was able to assist while waiting for a mountain rescue team to arrive. The casualty was stretchered to a team vehicle for onward transfer to an ambulance.

- In a high-profile incident, a St Bernard dog named Daisy was stretchered down Scafell Pike on Friday after she collapsed.

Richard Warren said: “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, take a waterproof map and a compass, don’t rely on smartphone 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, crag-fast or lost walker. Take a power bank battery charger, it will save you a lot of grief.”

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