Why have an Awareness Day?

Tomorrow, Sunday 25 October is Mountain and Cave Rescue Awareness Day – not necessarily one of the big dates in your diary but worth an explanatory blog post, we thought. Sally Seed is here to enlighten…

Carry a torch and spare batteries

Why now (1)?

The last Sunday in October has been our Awareness day for several years and there’s one very good reason for the date. With the UK’s clocks going back tonight, this is not only the weekend when you get an extra hour’s sleep, but tomorrow is also the day when it suddenly gets darker much earlier in the afternoon.

Combine that hour’s leap with typical October weather and half term for schools and this particular Sunday has frequently been a busy day for rescue teams across the country as people are caught out by the earlier darkness.

Don’t be one of them.

There are things you can do to avoid needing mountain rescue on our Awareness Day:

  • Carry a torch. And also carry a spare battery or, given the price of LED head torches, a spare torch.
  • Plan your day on the basis of dusk from 4.00pm and near darkness by 5.00pm. The sunset time for tomorrow in the Lake District, for instance, is 16:49.
  • Carry a torch. Don’t rely on your mobile phone for light. Keep your phone battery power for what only a phone can do.
  • Find out what the weather forecast is for your area and plan your walk accordingly. If it’s going to be wet and windy, it could slow you down AND mean that it seems darker sooner too.
  • Carry a torch.

Be aware and start out early

Why ‘awareness’?

According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary, aware means ‘conscious, not ignorant, having knowledge, well informed’ and that’s what we need you – and your friends and family – to be.

We need you to be aware that we’re all volunteers. We love what we do and we enjoy the challenges of being part of a mountain and/or cave rescue team but we also have families, friends and jobs. We’re available 24/7, 365 days a year like any other emergency service but we’re not on shifts or a salary or paid a retainer to turn out.

We do it for love.

We need you to have the knowledge that you need. We want to help you to take precautions, plan more carefully and be prepared for the things that could turn up as part of a day in the hills. We’d much rather you had a great day out than end up needing us because you’re cold, wet, lost or much worse.

And we want you to be aware of what’s needed if you’re going to have a great day in the hills and upland areas over the winter months. #BeAdventureSmart is a line we’ve been using, particularly in North Wales and the Lake District, for a few years now and it all boils down to three questions:

  • Do I know what the weather will be like?
  • Do I have the right gear?
  • Do I have the knowledge and skills for the day?

These are not rocket science but they’re a good reminder of what’s needed. It’s like the Scout motto, of course – it’s all about Being Prepared.

Plan your day and route
Graphics © VARTA Consumer UK. Main image: Ling Mell by torchlight © Wasdale MRT.

Why now (2)?

Being aware of these things late in October is all about being prepared for the winter months ahead. Those three questions then extend in your planning:

  • Do I know what the weather will be like… on the top as well as in valley? Has there been snow or is there ice up there that I need to anticipate?
  • Do I have the right gear… if I have to stop because of an injury? Can I keep myself warm and avoid hypothermia?
  • Do I have the knowledge and skills for the day? Do I know when it will get dark? Can I navigate myself down if the cloud comes in and I’ve no visibility?

We hope you have a great day out (weather permitting) on Mountain and Cave Rescue Awareness Day. And in the days to come too. Stay safe…


  1. Fred Forth on October 24, 2020 at 11:56 am

    Always be prepared, I learnt it in the scouts as as a young lad

  2. Jim higgins on October 24, 2020 at 8:33 pm

    It is not rocket science as you say but too many people take the hills for granted. Hill sounds like s hill when it should be treated as a mountaineering expedition. “Paths” are confused with paving slabs or aggregate and folk toddle along unaware into dangerous ground or get lost. Its hard to convince people that they might not be ready for the undertaking and they feel patronised.

  3. michael cunningham on October 25, 2020 at 9:50 am

    I always walk earlier in the winter, remember its safer to start in the dark than finish in it, it’s good to know there is help at hand should I get in the doodoo.

  4. Stuart McDonald on October 25, 2020 at 4:44 pm

    Too many people think being in the hills is like walking in an urban area, and are amazed when there’s no Wi-fi or their phone’s light isn’t bright enough, etc.
    A torch is an essential part of my hill kit, as is a lot of stuff I might never use but have come close to on occasion.
    Always listen to organisations like this where their advice is given freely with no reward in mind other than your well-being.
    This time of year especially catches people out with temperature changes, the onset of darkness, and general common sense.

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