Here in the Lake District it has been wonderful to see so many visitors return to the National Park after a difficult few months. With restrictions still in place relating to international travel, many people are opting for a “Staycation” and are taking holidays here in the UK, including in the Lake District. Campsites and self-catered accommodation in particular are seeing a bit of a boom, with many sites fully booked for the next couple of months.

However, whilst the vast majority of those coming to the Lake District are visiting responsibly, there have been a small minority of visitors who have caused some problems. In the last couple of months, there have been upsetting images shared on social media of rubbish left behind on lake shores and around fells. In addition, mountain rescue teams have been faced with what they call a “tidal wave” of call outs to people who have become lost in the high fells.

One such incident involved a family of six who set out to bike across some of the highest fells in the area during a bout of poor weather with inadequate clothing. Mountain Rescue Teams have stated that many of the calls they are currently dealing with could have been avoided had those involved been better prepared.

Visiting the Lake District Responsibly

Wast Water

Wast Water

Whilst we are happy to see so many people coming to enjoy the Lake District, we want everyone to have a safe visit, particularly given the concerns around Coronavirus. That is why we are asking everyone who comes to explore the lakes and fells to be Adventure Smart.

Adventure Smart is a collaboration between various tourism groups, mountain rescue teams, and other organisations across the county that aims to promote safety when out exploring the countryside and their website is full of useful information that will help you plan any adventures you may wish to undertake. However, as a quick guide, here are some top tips to help you visit the Lake District responsibly and safely.

 

1. Leave No Trace

The Lake District is a designated World Heritage Site and everyone has a duty to ensure that this beautiful landscape is preserved for future generations. That’s why we’re asking everyone to only leave behind footprints and only take away memories. In some countries, national parks have wardens who will take away bagged up rubbish, but that is not the case here in the Lake District. So, you must take your rubbish away with you to place in a bin when you can access one.

We have a special collection of trees and plants, including some ancient and rare specimens. It’s important that you do not cut down trees to make campfires and worth noting that campfires are not permitted anywhere where you do not have the landowner’s permission.

2. Wild Camping

Wild camping is not technically permitted in the Lake District, but in previous years it was generally seen as acceptable provided campers chose sites high in the fells “above the intake walls” which essentially means above farmland, and provided that they only stayed for one night, arriving late and leaving early.

This year we have seen an influx of wild campers setting up camp at inappropriate places, including on lake shores, and on fell tops during inclement weather. As a result, Cumbria Police are now taking action against wild campers with additional patrols. If you are found it is very likely you will be asked to move on or possibly fined. Therefore, if you are planning on camping in the Lake District this year, please do not arrive without booking a campsite in advance.

4. Consider Using a Guide for New Walks

There are numerous activity companies in the Lake District who offer bespoke and planned days out on the fells, with a guide to lead you and your group throughout the day. There are many benefits to using a guide. They are experienced Mountain Leaders who know how to judge the weather conditions and will adjust the route accordingly.

They know the routes through the fells like the backs of their hands, so there is little chance of getting lost. This means that rather than worrying about navigation, you can simply relax and take in the views. It also means that they can take you on some of the lesser known routes up iconic fells, such as Scafell Pike, so you can avoid the crowds whilst staying safe.

5. Plan Your Route in Advance

If you do choose to forego the services of a guide, then it’s essential that you do some planning before you set out. This doesn’t just mean looking on the map, but also doing some research online about the type of terrain you might encounter.

6. Tell Someone Where You Are Going

Do let someone know where you are going and how long you think you will be out before you leave. That way if anything does go wrong, there is someone who will know to call for help.

7. Pack for All Weathers

It might seem like a warm and sunny day at the start of your walk but that doesn’t mean that it will be warm and sunny in the fell tops. There is a good chance that it will be cold and blustery, possibly wet, with cloud cover and more. It’s essential that you carry an extra layer for additional warmth, as well as waterproof clothing.

If you can, take along an emergency survival bag, preferably one that is brightly coloured to help any potential mountain rescue teams find you more easily. Finally, choose appropriate footwear for the walk. Hiking boots: Yes. Flip-flops: No.

8. Take Plenty of Food and Water

You should have enough food and water to sustain you for a few hours, especially during the summer when there is a danger of you becoming dehydrated.

9. Take a Map, Compass, Torch, & Phone Battery Pack

Other essential items include a map, compass, and torch. Of course, the map and compass are pretty useless if you don’t know how to use them! Do consider booking onto a navigation course, or watch tutorials online for the next best thing. Even if you are not planning to stay out after dark, planning for the worst-case scenario will prevent any unnecessary tragedies, so a torch with full batteries are essential.

Never rely on your phone to provide navigation or light. The battery will drain fast, especially in areas of poor signal, and you may need power to make an emergency call. Having a back up battery pack is also a good idea for this reason.

10. Know How to Call for Help

In an emergency, you can get help from Mountain Rescue by dialling 999, asking for the police, and then asking for Mountain Rescue. Learn how to read grid references so that you can provide an accurate location if required. Emergency rescue teams also recommend using the What Three Words app, which provides three words that you can pass onto emergency call operators that correlate with a GPS location.