Holidaymakers heading north warned to be properly prepared for hill walking and difficult conditions

Anyone planning to head north over the next couple of weeks to do some hill walking has been warned to take extra precautions amid an increase in the number of rescues on Scotland’s peaks.

Thursday, 7th April 2022, 10:14 am

When the sun is shining and the sky is blue it can be incredibly tempting to get out into nature and appreciate the rugged landscape Scotland has to offer.

However, mountaineering experts have warned that it is exactly these conditions which fool inexperienced people into thinking they are able to head out with minimal equipment and enjoy the weather with little to no risk involved.

One particular message is telling people not to rely on phones as their only means of navigation and communication because they are unreliable and can shut down in cold conditions.

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Ben Gibson, a Mountaineering Scotland safety advisor, told the BBC: "Technology nowadays and having GPS on your phone is fantastic and makes navigation that much easier.

"But there definitely are challenges with the fact if you go out in the mountains with just your phone the screen size limits you to a small area, can you zoom in and out all the time with your gloves on? And it's going to use the battery.

"Having an addition of a map and compass allows you to cover a much wider area, and a power bank."

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Holidaymakers heading north warned to be properly prepared for hill walking and difficult conditions

The warnings come amid a rise in the number of rescues on Scotland's peaks in recent months.

Matt Smith, from Braemar Mountain Rescue and Police Scotland Mountain Rescue, advised that proper equipment is required when out on the hills such as crampons and an ice axe. He has emphasised though that users must be experienced and learn how to use these safely.

Warm clothes, food and a plan B if things aren't going well are also recommended.

"Anything we can do to prevent incidents on the hill is a really good thing," he said.

Holidaymakers heading north warned to be properly prepared for hill walking and difficult conditions. (Picture credit: Neil Reid)

"We had a really challenging couple of weeks at the start of March, and that was basically because we had beautiful snow lying on the ground but it was rock hard, really icy, and blue sky conditions.

"So there was a surge in people coming outside to try and almost get a piece of that.”

Mr Smith said most people weren’t carrying the right kit or equipment and often they didn’t have the right experience to tackle conditions they had found themselves in.

He explained that one of the key messages people need to hear about being prepared is to understand that the weather conditions can change.

"They need to select an objective in keeping with their own experience, abilities and fitness levels,” he explained.

"You need to check the weather conditions for your intended destination and not the car park."

The weather is set to remain bright across most of the country over the weekend with scattered showers and wintry conditions on the hills. The Met Office has said overnight on Thursday wintry showers will continue in the Highlands with snow accumulating on higher levels.

Friday is another sunny day with intervals of sleet, hail and snow.

If you have plans to travel and enjoy the beautiful scenery, you should ensure you have all the appropriate kit and have checked the most up to date regional forecast.

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