Visitors to Northumberland National Park are being urged to ‘adventure smart’ if heading to the hills this winter.
On Tuesday 27 December, a couple of fell runners got into difficulties on the Border Ridge in harsh winter conditions yesterday.
They had started in Kirk Yetholm and were hoping to follow the Pennine Way to Byrness.
With snow and ice on the ground, strong winds and severe wind chill, the condition on the tops were hard-going, the park’s mountain rescue team said.
After Windy Gyle, the couple started to suffer from the cold but made it as far as the refuge hut at Yearning Saddle from where they raised the alarm.
North of Tyne and Northumberland National Park mountain rescue teams and Border Search and Rescue units responded. Medics assess the runners and after a period of rewarming were walked 3.5km off the hill in the dark to Blindburn.
The park mountain rescue team said it is crucial that people take the right precautions to stay safe when out in the countryside.
They also advise anyone heading out to pack enough warm clothing, spare food and hot drinks as temperatures fall, and take a torch and spare batteries due to how quickly it gets dark.
Iain Nixon, team leader for Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team, said: “When teams respond to a call out at night, it can take us longer to get to people. This means that casualties will be sitting out in the cold for much longer.”
“Given current weather conditions, even a simple ankle injury could lead to a serious case of hypothermia if a casualty is sitting out in the cold for 30 minutes or more. A bothy bag or small shelter can mean the difference between life and death in the winter.”
Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team has the following advice for anyone venturing out.
Anyone planning a day in the outdoors should think about their skills and capabilities, anticipate the weather and have the equipment and clothing to stay safe.
In the winter, you must be prepared to wait more than an hour or two hours before someone can reach you in the hills.
Adapt plans according to the weather conditions – this may mean having winter equipment such as boots and an ice axe or microspikes, or changing your plans to something more manageable.
Margaret Anderson, Senior Ranger at Northumberland National Park, said: “Northumberland National Park is beautiful at this time of year, but we must stress the wintry conditions we’re seeing, from the sub-zero temperatures to snow and ice, can be extremely dangerous.
“We urge people to take the ‘Adventure Smart’ advice of the mountain rescue team and to plan ahead, tell someone where you’re going and when you’re due home, and to make sure you pack the right kit with you. If you’re travelling by car, be prepared by having blankets, a torch and a shovel with you should road conditions change.