With shops, sports clubs, pubs and restaurants closed and travel restricted people are discovering beautiful parts of Northern Ireland right on their doorsteps.
Now three months of the same scenery has resulted in many itchy feet waiting patiently to travel further and enjoy new challenges.
For mountain rescue volunteers more folk enjoying the great outdoors means more callouts to help those in difficulties. Either due to injury or getting lost in unfamiliar landscapes.
From three bases North West Mountain Rescue Team volunteers cover all of Northern Ireland other than the Mourne Mts. Providing a 24-hour callout service at the request of the PSNI, 365 days of the year for over four decades.
As restrictions gradually lift this spring the NWMRT urge those returning to the mountains or tackling more challenging ground to be ‘Adventure Smart’. Before heading out on an adventure there are 3 important questions you should ask yourself:
- Do I have the right gear? Hikers should ensure they have a map, compass and torch with them. Hiking boots or sturdy walking shoes are also important to prevent trips or slips.
- Do I know what the weather will be like? Before heading out on your adventure check a local weather forecast. Remember rain or low cloud will affect visibility and wind produces a wind chill factor. As a rule of thumb the air temperature will decrease by 2oC for every 100m of elevation gained. Regardless of the weather always pack your waterproofs and a few spare insulating layers. Plus plan an escape route in case conditions deteriorate.
- Have I the knowledge and skills for the day? For many it may have been some time since we were last in the mountains So start off with familiar, lower routes.
Even though Covid restrictions could be eased in coming weeks and months the risk of infection remains, particularly for rescuers, who need to administer first aid,
Therefore the North West Mountain Rescue team ask that walkers and climbers stay within their limitations to reduce the risk of injury and the need for mountain rescue services.
If in difficulties when you are out, dial 999 and ask for ‘Police’ then ‘Mountain Rescue’.