Before you leave home.
- Register with emergencySMS This enables you to contact the emergency services via text. A text message might get out from a location with a very poor mobile signal.
- Buy the appropriate OS Map (OL 6 for Wasdale), download the digital version that comes with the map and also download the OS-LOCATE APP this enables your phone to use GPS to locate your position on the phone version of your map. (Your phone will need to have GPS and have ‘locate’ enabled.)
- Check the weather forecast outlook for the duration of your stay. Currently the mobile signal in Wasdale is pretty poor and you might not be able to check the forecast just before you set out on the hill. If the weather on the west coast is going to be rough then somewhere further east might provide a more pleasant holiday!
Before you set off up the hill.
- Get a weather forecast and consider its consequence on your plans.
- Leave a route card with your personal details, the intended route, your equipment and estimated time of arrival at your destination with someone responsible.
- Wear suitable clothing make sure you have warm windproof and waterproof clothing whatever the time of year. If your outer layer is black, green or dark blue then you will be very hard to locate in a crisis! Red or Hi-Vis stands out well against grass or snow.
- Wear good walking boots with suitable soles.
- Make sure that everyone in your group is fit and well enough for your intended route. If you have already done Ben Nevis, a few hours ago, are you fit enough to do the Pike?
- Carry basic survival equipment, food and spare clothes for the time of year. Remember conditions can change quickly on the hills and even a mid summer day can have gale force winds and rain. BMC: Emergency packing for hill walking.
- It can take several hours to effect a mountain rescue so try to carry enough gear, in your party, to survive an unscheduled night on the fells or a wait of a few hours in the unfortunate event that you need assistance. Basics would be a bivvy shelter, lightweight duvet jacket, gloves and hat. Remember that you can always tip out your rucksack and get inside!
- Carry plenty of spare food. Flapjack bars etc. pack a lot of energy into a small volume and don’t weigh much but make a big contribution to morale and survival prospects on a long winter’s night.
- Always carry a map, compass and torch and learn how to navigate before going onto the high fells. Somebody in the group needs to be able to navigate and actually make sure that your group goes where it is meant to!
- Check sunrise and sunset times – they are at the top right corner of this page. If the clag comes in then it gets dark very quickly in Wasdale and Eskdale.
On the hill.
- Select a route and objective suitable for even the weakest party members.
- Use the steepest path on your route to go up. That way you can tackle the hardest ground when you are fresh. If you do fall over then you will fall into the hill and, hopefully, catch yourself.
- Use a gentle, well used path for your descent. Most accidents happen in descent when walkers are tired, concentration can lapse and when a fall tends to send you away from the hill.
- Only plan to go ‘Off Piste’ if you are familiar with the ground and conditions are suitable. ‘Off Piste’ descents, or shortcuts, down steep and unfamiliar ground are frequent precursors to many of our most difficult rescues. In bad weather or gathering darkness stick to a well used path – it is usually quicker and much safer.
- There are several incident ‘blackspots’ in Wasdale and Eskdale. If you are new to fell walking then it is best to keep well away from these until you have gained experience and conditions are suitable.
Improve your skills.
- Ordnance Survey: Basic map skills videos.
- Ordnance Survey:Beginners guide to using a compass. Very good – try this out on easy ground before trying the Pike!
- BMC: How to take a grid reference.
- BMC: How to use GPS devices safely.
- BMC: Emergency procedures for hill walking.
- LDSAMRA: Lakeland walking information leaflet.
Advice from the Scotland Police’s Mountain Safety webpage.
What should I bring?
- Waterproof jacket and trousers.
- Warm trousers and a fleece.
- Gloves and a hat.
- Good, sturdy walking boots.
- Head torch.
- Map (ensure it is the correct one, and protect it from the weather).
- Bivvy Bag.
- Spare food.
- Small First Aid kit.
- Mobile phone.
What should I not do?
- Go without being able to navigate
- Rely on rescue (take full responsibility for your own safety)
- Assume the route is over once you get to the top (more than half of all accidents happen in descent)
- Be inflexible about objectives
- Be complacent about the weather
- Rely on mobile phones
- Leave your mobile switched on (you may require all of its battery power if rescued)
- Dial 999 at the first hint of trouble (always think is 999 really necessary? If not, use the dial the police non-emergency number 101)
- Rely on Global Positioning Satellite devices (they are only an aid)
Enjoy your day take home nothing but good memories and photographs and leave nothing behind except gentle footprints.