North-east hillwalkers urged to prepare properly after record call-outs for rescue teams

Hillwalkers and climbers in the north-east are being urged to prepare properly for their trips - after mountain rescue teams in the region had their busiest period on record.

This year, Police Scotland has recorded a 20% increase in call-outs across the north-east, Highlands and Tayside regions in comparison to any other year.

There have been almost 50 call-outs in the north-east in 2020 so far.

Sergeant Peter Lorrain-Smith, Police Scotland’s mountain rescue co-ordinator, said: "The north of Scotland is lucky to have some of the most beautiful hills and mountains in the country, and over the past few months we have experienced a significant increase in the number of people heading outdoors to enjoy themselves.  

"By all means I do not want to put anyone off appreciating our great outdoors, however I must highlight just how crucial it is that you are prepared.

"Plan the route you are going to walk and consider whether it is safe to climb and if you have the ability to complete it safely. Also take sensible precautions and ensure you have suitable equipment, clothing and supplies.

"Unfortunately we continue to come across examples of people not being prepared for the walks or climbs they have embarked on, including people without maps, torches or basic survival gear, nor the skills and knowledge to use them.

"Many people have told us this is the first time they have ever hill-walked or climbed, and didn’t appreciate just how quickly conditions can turn. 

"Our message remains simple - come to the hills and mountains and enjoy them, but be prepared for all eventualities and don't go beyond your ability; preparation is the price of admission.

"Scottish mountains are by their very nature extremely unpredictable, therefore it is important that people take as many precautions as possible and plan ahead."

Sgt Lorrain-Smith added: “I am extremely proud of the work that has been carried out by our teams and the partners we work with during this critical time to help those in need.

"I appreciate that getting outdoors is great for people’s well-being at this challenging time, however the well-being of our teams is also a priority for me and I can see the impact this increase in demand on our services is having, combined with the wider Covid-19 restrictions we all face. 

"If you do find yourself in need of assistance because of being lost or injured then phone 999, ask for police then mountain rescue. You will be helped, however, because of the current restrictions in place, it may take longer than normal for us to get to you."

Scottish Mountain Rescue will be launching its #ThinkWINTER campaign in early December, with the support of the police.

The #ThinkWINTER quick checklist includes: 

  • Check the mountain weather forecast – pay particular attention to wind speed, temperature and cloud cover.
  • Take warm layers, waterproof clothing, hat, gloves and boots with good grip plus a headtorch with spare batteries.
  • Pack plenty of food and drink to keep you going, plus some extra just in case.
  • Build up your navigation skills and confidence with shorter, smaller days before taking on bigger hills and longer days.
  • Be prepared to turn back if the weather or conditions change.
  • Let someone know where you are going, what time you will be back and what to do if you don’t return when expected.
  • If you are injured or lost and can’t get off the hill call 999 and ask for police and mountain rescue. 

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