Glossop Mountain Rescue Team have issued an urgent plea to walkers visiting the Peak District: "If you get into difficulty on the hills and call for assistance, but manage to find your own way down before help arrives, please call 101 and let us know you are safe."
The plea comes after several recent incidents. In one case, dozens of Mountain Rescue volunteers, alongside several search dogs, rushed to scour well-known local landmark Higher Shelf Stones after receiving information about a hiker in difficulty. As the night wore on, concerns grew and more volunteers were called in. Finally, the team made phone contact with the missing party, and discovered they were not only safe and well… but at home some distance away.
“This has happened twice in recent weeks,” explains Glossop MRT Team Leader Patch Haley. “We’re always glad to hear that people are safe, but I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep us informed. If people do make their own way down after they call emergency services for assistance, it’s vital they let us know via 101. My fear is that with higher volumes of walkers visiting the area during lockdown, more of these false alarms will leave our rescue team overstretched, and at risk of struggling to reach those who are genuinely in need of urgent assistance.”
The Peak District has become a big draw for visitors from Greater Manchester, Yorkshire and beyond during the recent lockdown. Higher Shelf Stones in particular has found unlikely fame on Tik-Tok and Instagram, thanks to its eerie and photogenic landscape, where the natural beauty of the area contrasts with the wreckage of a crashed B29 Superfortress leading to 2 incidents in a three hour period over the weekend, on top of one the day before near to Crowden.
However, the elevation and inhospitable route to and from the crash site offers significant challenges for even the most experienced hikers.
“Visitors should be aware that social media only tells them half the story,” Patch explains. “Always check the weather before you set off. Conditions can change without warning at these elevations, and low cloud can reduce visibility drastically. It’s easy to get disorientated and wet, and that’s when hypothermia can set in. And remember to allow plenty of time to get back before sunset, as conditions underfoot will become claggy, and navigation nearly impossible. Make sure you bring food, water, a torch, and a map and compass. And be confident you can use them.”
The team also urge people to come dressed for the conditions with comfortable boots, waterproofs, layers, and a change of clothes on hand.
“Don’t rely on your phone for navigation or torchlight, as signal isn’t guaranteed, and it’s best to conserve your battery for if you get into difficulty and need to call for help.
And remember, if you’re not sure you are equipped or experienced enough for a winter hike like this, think twice before attempting it. Because at this time of year you can quickly find yourself in serious difficulty.”