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Hill walkers urged to get kitted up as seasons change

By Mike Merritt

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A head torch is essential.
A head torch is essential.

The body that represents the majority of Scotland's mountain rescue teams has warned of an increasing number of incidents on the hills.

Scottish Mountain Rescue represents 25 teams with over 850 volunteers – plus an additional three police teams and one RAF unit.

But it said on top of a busy summer, autumn was already bringing new challenges.

"Over recent months there has been an increase in the number of mountain incidents across Scotland, and now autumn is in full swing we’d like to remind people venturing into the hills to check your kit to ensure you are fully prepared," said Scottish Mountain Rescue.

"Ensure you have suitable clothing for any weather conditions you may encounter and have within your rucksack a spare warm layer (jacket, fleece), spare gloves, hat and extra food.

"In addition to that, it is important to have a map for the area you are walking in, a compass – know how to use it – and a torch and spare batteries. We have moved into autumn and the evenings are getting darker and the temperature is dropping.

"We recommend that you don’t use a mobile phone as your only navigation aid as they have their limitations, if you do get into difficulty try and keep as much charge in your phone battery as you can – in the cold battery life is very short.

"Remember, if you do require assistance, phone 999 and ask for Police then Mountain Rescue, try and stay calm and give as much information to the operator as you can (what the emergency is, where you are, size of party, telephone numbers in your party, any known medical issues etc), bear in mind however that given the remoteness of some of the areas, mobile phone signal can be very poor and it can take a number of hours for the rescue team to get to you.

"Leaving a route card of your intended journey with family or a friend can assist our Mountain Rescue teams too.

"With a bit of forward planning, looking at weather forecasts, thinking about your route and your skills will enable you to have an enjoyable day out in the wonderful mountain environment we have in Scotland."

Mountain safety experts have also warned hillwalkers not to be caught out by the darkening autumn as days get much shorter.

Already people have ended up rescued after being unable to find their way in the dark when their hike took longer than expected.

Heather Morning.
Heather Morning.

Mountaineering Scotland said a head torch was essential.

Its mountain safety adviser, Heather Morning, said: “Autumn is a cracking time of year to get out and enjoy the hills and mountains of Scotland, in all their dramatic colours and moods.

“But it’s easy to get caught out as the weather cools and the nights draw in.”

Typical autumn weather conditions also underline the importance of being able to navigate in poor visibility.

Ms Morning said: “You should make a point of carrying a fully charged head torch – and a spare if possible.

“A careful look at the mountain weather forecast will help to plan an appropriate route for the weather conditions. Autumn brings colder, wetter and windy conditions, which may mean a lower route is the best option.

“But in any case, as well as your waterproofs, an additional warm layer, hat and gloves will make your adventures a lot more enjoyable and safer.”

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