The nights are now drawing in and the shorter days are with us for the next few months, and not forgetting the clocks going back on Sunday 29th October. But that doesn’t mean that the countryside is out of bounds, it just means you need to be properly prepared. Here are a few key safety considerations before venturing out onto the hills and moors.
Firstly, be aware of the time. Make sure you start your journey early enough to complete the route in daylight, and be aware what time it gets dark, allowing plenty time to get home safely, even if the weather changes for the worst. Plan your day and route carefully and let someone know where you are going and how long you expect to be out.
Have a map and compass with you…and have the ability to use them! Navigation is much harder at night and darkness changes everything. Route finding becomes more difficult, not forgetting to mention being able to see where you are placing your feet or the direction you are travelling.
Of course everyone has an emergency torch in your rucksack… you do, don’t you?! Carry a good quality torch and or a head torch with spare batteries should you get delayed and night falls. Some people prefer to carry an additional torch to avoid having to change batteries in the cold or darkness. Adequate lighting is critical when the nights draw in. Trying to map read or making your way over rough ground from a little light on a mobile phone is a nightmare that you really don’t want to experience. This will also use up what could be vital mobile phone battery life.
Remember most accidents happen towards the end of the day when you are feeling tired and your energy levels are low, quite like your mobile phone battery that you’ve been using all day to find your location on a GPS app or uploading pictures to social media! Before you venture out, register your mobile phone with the Emergency SMS service. It’s really easy to do and could save your life. Visit the website and follow the instructions: www.emergencysms.org.uk
Ensure you wear suitable clothing for the time of year and sturdy footwear with good tread. Carry a rucksack or backpack that contains food, drink, waterproofs, hat and gloves, extra layers to keep you warm and dry if the worst happens, and an emergency foil blanket or bivvy bag to protect you from the elements in case of emergency. Ask yourself, if you or someone with you has to stop for an extended period of time, will the kit you have with you be enough to protect you from the elements?
For those who like to move fast in the hills, like fell runners and mountain bikers, there’s always a temptation to travel light and leave spare kit at home. Please consider though what to do if you twist an ankle, break a chain or simply can’t walk off the moors easily to a road to ring for help. Having to sit on top of a windblown moor for a few hours in a t-shirt and shorts will be an adventure you’ll only want to experience once.
Winter is not a time to avoid the hills. If anything it’s a time to revel in them. Fewer people means quieter days out. Those perfect crisp morning runs, or late evening rides. Catching sunset and sunrise on the same day, it can be one of the best times of the year if you’re prepared and willing to get out there to enjoy it.
Remember in the event of an emergency, dial 999 or 112 and ask for Police, then Mountain Rescue.
Roland Arnison (Roly) and his 14 years old son James Elles from Thornton, Bradford, have set their goals high with a mountain of a challenge as they attempt the complete the National Three Peaks Challenge to help raise funds for Calder Valley Search and Rescue Team (CVSRT).
For those unfamiliar with the challenge, it involves climbing the three highest peaks, which are Ben Nevis (1345m) in Scotland, Scafell Pike (978m) in the Lake District and Snowdon (1085m) in Wales, all within 24 hours. To help them accomplish their challenge, they have enlisted Richard Quinn who will drive the pair between the three locations. Both Roly and Richard are also team members with CVSRT. The challenge for Roly and James is to complete the estimated 13-14hours of hill climbing with very little sleep. The challenge for Richard is to drive the pair promptly but safely between the mountains.
James said, “I have climbed about 11 mountains but I've never done anything like the National Three Peaks Challenge before. I’m really excited about climbing the biggest mountains as fast as possible.”
Roly added, “I have quite a lot of mountaineering experience and being a mountain rescue volunteer with Calder Valley Search and Rescue Team keeps me busy and hill fit so I’m not too concerned about the physical climbs, I’m more concerned about whether I can keep up with James who is considerably younger and more agile than I – but I’ll give it my best shot!”
“We are raising money for CVSRT because I know first hand how vital fundraising is to the team. It costs approximately £35,000 per year just to keep the team operational, which is raised entirely though fundraising and donations from the community and local businesses. Our initial target for this challenge is £500 but we would love to smash that target! – We’ve managed to raise nearly £200 already which is a great start.” Roly concluded.
Roly & James’s National Three Peaks Challenge will involve a total of 24 miles of mountain climbing and more than 3000metres of ascent as well as 460 miles of driving, all within 24 hours and will take place on 26th-27th October.
Please visit their fundraising page to show your support and to donate: Roly & James' National Three Peaks Challenge
Find out more info about: National Three Peaks Challenge