Hillwalkers facing 'four seasons in one day' amid spike in rescues

Sudden changes in the weather have caught a higher than normal amount of hill-goers off guard.

Tayside police and mountain rescue team issue weather warnings amid increase of lost or missing walkers Police Scotland
Warning: Hill-goers are urged to prepare for 'four seasons in one day'.

Police and mountain rescue teams in Tayside have issued warnings after they received an increase in call outs for missing or lost hillwalkers in recent weeks.

Sudden changes in the weather have caught a higher than normal amount of hill-goers off guard which has caused them to find themselves in need of assistance.

Hillwalkers and climbers are urged to be prepared for all weather as “we live on an island where the conditions in the summer can deliver all four seasons in one day”.

Images shared by Tayside Police Division show the force’s mountain rescue team, along with volunteers from Tayside Mountain Rescue Team, training in Glen Cova on Sunday, July 26, where the day started dry, clear and bright with light winds on the summits above 800m.

In the early afternoon, high winds, thick mist and cold rainy conditions took hold, meaning visibility was quickly and severely reduced to less than 20m at the same altitude.

 Images shared by police from the training show the difference in visibility.
Images shared by police from the training show the difference in visibility.

Tayside Police MRT leader, Constable Paul Morgan said: “Because we had assessed the mountain weather forecasts before we started to train, we were all prepared in advance to deal with whatever came our way.

“As hillwalkers and climbers ourselves, members of my team and the wonderful volunteers of Tayside Mountain Rescue Team pray for good weather like everyone else when we take to the hills, however we live on an island where the conditions in the summer can deliver all four seasons in one day.”

Constable Morgan added: “Being prepared for a fun and enjoyable mountain day requires not only hill skills and proper understanding of the equipment carried, but also some homework to be done around the weather. 

“Look for dedicated mountain weather forecasts online, such as Mountain Weather Information Service before leaving home to give you the full picture of what to expect and help you get the most out of our incredible countryside”.

A spokesperson for Tayside Mountain Rescue Team said: “We are increasingly responding to lost or missing people in mountainous areas. 

“Plan your day and route according to your ability and experience, including looking at the weather, which will undoubtedly be different at the summit than in the glen, and may change during the course of the day.

“No matter what anyone says, a mobile phone is no substitute for a map and compass and the knowledge of how to use them. Proper clothing is also extremely important, it can save your life. Please enjoy the mountains, but please do it safely and responsibly.”

Figures from Scottish Mountain Rescue showed that hundreds of people were saved from Scotland’s mountains by volunteer teams who braved dangerous peaks to carry out daring rescues in the ‘busiest year on record’.

A total of 19 fatalities were recorded from more than 660 incidents across the country during 2021.

Crews, mainly made up of civilian members, responded to a growing number of emergency callouts near “urban centres” in Edinburgh, Fife, the Lothians and Tayside.