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“Climb if you will, but remember that courage and strength are nought without prudence….” Edward Whymper.

British mountains can be killers if proper care is not taken. The following notes are adapted from those of the Mountain Rescue Council & cover sensible precautions if you want to minimise the risk of getting hurt or lost.

Aim to be self reliant, and so avoid inconveniencing or endangering others. There is no substitute for experience. Learn to Navigate and administer First Aid. You will get more satisfaction from progressing gradually towards harder and longer routes than you will attacking the biggest hills before you’ve developed the necessary skills.


This should include warm, windproof and waterproof garments. Cotton shirts are cold when wet with sweat, modern wicking thermal vests are useful all year round. Wear boots. Take hat, gloves and a spare fleece; it is always colder on the tops.


Eat well before you start, cereals & carbohydrates release energy slowly and constantly throughout the day. In addition to the usual sandwiches, take energy food such as chocolate, dried fruit, or glucose which restore energy quickly. Warm drinks do wonders for moral. Streams on mountains are drinkable if fast-running over stony beds.


This must include map and compass. Take a reliable watch, whistle and torch (six blasts or flashes repeated at minute intervals signal an emergency). A survival bag or modern light-weight emergency shelter can also be invaluable. Mobile phones and GPS are useful tools but MUST NOT be relied upon entirely. Consider taking a basic First Aid Kit.

In winter conditions, an ice-axe and crampons may be needed. Climbers are urged to wear helmets, especially in winter conditions.


There is safety in numbers but groups should ensure that party leaders have sufficient & relevant experience. Do not leave one or two behind to rest and catch up later. Discuss and agree a contingency plan with everyone. Take special care of the youngest and weakest in dangerous places.

If you prefer to go alone accept the additional inherent risk.

Route Card

Tell someone your planned route, starting & finishing points, and your expected time of return – remember to sign off with them when you are down. If plans or events change, let your friends & family know. If necessary tell the Police you are safely off the hill.


Don’t press on if conditions are against you – turn back even if it upsets your plan. Send for help as soon as possible, but take time to assess the seriousness of the situation first – you may be able to help yourselves. Give first aid, and keep injured or exhausted people warm until help reaches you.

Dial 999 and state “Police for Mountain Rescue”

Dangers Which Can Be Avoided Dangers Which May Surprise You
Precipices Weather changes – mist, gale, rain or snow, (get a forecasts, and watch the sky)
Slopes of ice or steep snow Ice on path, know how to use ice axe & crampons
Very steep grass (especially frozen) Excessive cold or heat (dress sensibly, and take spare clothing)
Unstable boulders Exhaustion (know the signs; rest and keep warm)
Gullies and stream beds Accidents or illness (don’t panic – if you send for help, make sure that the rescuers know exactly where to come)
Streams in spate Flight of time (learn your own pace – plan your walk – allow double time in winter or night time conditions)
Snow cornices on ridges or gully tops Over-ambition

It is no disgrace to turn back if you are not certain. A party must be governed by the capabilities of the weakest member.

This information has been adapted from that provided by The MRC – you may visit their website or that of our local rescue team by clicking the links in the table below.

MRC logo Kmrt-logo-3
  Mountain Rescue Council   Keswick Mountain Rescue Team