Wednesday, April 15

Lakeland Mountain Rescue feels the strain

I call it the Bradbury effect.

Now before your lawyers start contacting my lawyers I really should qualify this a little.

Ms Bradbury has admirably managed to mine an interest in outdoor distance walking. Originally with the Wainwright Walks, then with Railway Walks, and most recently with Wainwright's Coast to Coast route.

All good stuff, and to be honest its rare to find any purist walking series that manages to stumble much beyond a single outing on British TV. JB has managed that with considerable success.

Now that's a Good Thing if it opens the eyes of those amongst the sedentary public at large who in the past were reluctant or uninformed.

But it all looks just so damned easy to do. Strap on some boots. Bung a few sarnies and the relevant guide book in a daysack. Oh and perhaps a map & compass if there's one around.

So how comes Lakeland MRT has need to widely publicise a worrying rise in call-outs.

LDSMRA chairman Richard Warren: “It is difficult to put a finger on why it is happening but there does appear to be an increase in the public’s interest in the challenge of the great outdoors.” The significant increase in workload for the rescuers is, he says, “putting a severe strain on our team members and their ability to make the necessary commitment and sacrifice, turning out for rescue after rescue.”

Of course its not directly down to Bradbury. After all there have been other TV shows in the past year also revealing some of the wilder land far from tarmacadam road. And whatever the reason, the genre seems to have hit a welcome note with the viewer at home.

But despite cautionary advice included along in each TV program as to appropriate clothing & safety, the number of ill prepared fellwalkers seems to be on the rise, along with that highly urbanised attitude. Namely calling for help on a mobile phone when the going gets uncomfortable.

Hands up all those who see the AA/RAC services changing a flat tyre at the side of the road nowadays? An all too common occurrence, and one that would have been unheard of 10 or 15 years ago when the emergency services were just that. For an EMERGENCY.

Its rather too easy to call for help these days. Even when its really not required. So with TV shows, despite their best efforts, showing just how easy it is to meet a new challenge, I personally can't see the tide turning where over stretched Mountain Rescue Teams are concerned.

Perhaps the 'Bradbury Effect' is ill-named?

How about Responsibility Abandonment Kills Outdoors For Sure (RAKOFs - think it'll catch on?)

Meanwhile, if you have wandered to this page as a result of some wild Googling exercise please take a few minutes to watch this MRT video on Mountain Safety.

Who knows - it may save your life one day. But better still perhaps you'll be prepared next time you go out on the hills.

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Great post John. Thought provoking.

With modern communications becoming the crutch for unprepared, poorly experienced and an unfit new walking community, this problem will only get worse.

But who do we blame? (Should we be blaming?) or how do we put this right? (probably a better question!).

Dump the nanny culture. Let teachers take kids out for wild weekends with no more stupid paperwork and ridiculous risk assesments. Let kids take risks and get away with it (more times than not) - that way they get experience.

What we have now is a whole new generation of walkers who all believe they can do what Ms Bradbury does on telly (does anyone else think she is particularly ugly?) and is well within their grasp when in fact they are wholly unprepared for the effort and skills involved in a British mountain walk.

Nanny state. Nanny culture. And now we need to nurse these unfortunates when they get into trouble on the hills.
Will the 'Bradbury Effect' extend to lots of trespassing cases from over-enthusiastic rail buffs wanting to have a gawp at a former station now occupied as a private home? Joking aside, when I ventured out on the Downs Link last week, the owner of Baynards Station has clearly had enough of his fellow rail buffs, sincxe the place is like Fort Knox now!

As for prats on mountains without the proper gear, that's happened since city folk equipped themselves with cars hasn't it?
Yep, had a bit of that wandering around the Cairngorms last week. A couple staring in horror at a small river crossing in Glen Eanaich. The stopping stones where a foot or so under water. They yelled at me,"It's too deep, you'll never get across." Odd, I had crossed it ok in the morning and indeed had no trouble crossing it again. Worse though where a couple who had wandered off the main track and where heading for high corry. I warned them there where steep snow banks to cross. The response "oh but there has been no snow for a while now." Dhuh????????/ Let us hope Ms Bradbury does not do a series on the Cairngorms!! Dawn.
By the by, I think I have become a sad person. Watching Ms B's programmes I sit puzzled as to how her make up never seems to suffer on the hill, odd?
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