Penrith Mountain Rescue Team is urging walkers not to underestimate a popular peak after five call-outs to help lost and injured people on Cross Fell.
The 893m fell, Cumbria’s eighth highest, is part of the Pennine Way.
Rob Holden, team leader of Penrith mountain rescue, said: “People tend to underestimate its dangers as it is not in the Lake District National Park.
“Cross Fell is high and it is remote, the largest single area of land above 800m in England.
“That topography of the land creates the legendary Helm Wind, which can lead to some ferocious winds and creates a heavy bank of cloud called ‘the helm’ that sits on or above the summit of Cross Fell.
“Cloud is a real feature of Cross Fell and it is often covered in mist when all other parts of the Pennines are clear.
“With our team patch extending from the fells around Shap and Haweswater right up to the Scottish border, seeing so many callouts to one mountain has been ringing alarm bells in recent months.”
That spate of recent rescues has seen the team being called to assist mainly lost and injured walkers, including German and French nationals:
- A crag fast female runner with hypothermia, High Cup Nick, south of Cross Fell. The Penrith team supported Kirkby Stephen MRT.
- A couple lost the path on Cross Fell.
- A lost man on Cross Fell.
- A couple lost while walking from Dufton to Garrigill on the Pennine Way. Lost path near Great Dun, south of Cross Fell.
- A 57-year-old man with hypothermia on Cross Fell. His adult son also present and cold as well. They lost the path and were unable to move as struggling on very wet ground.
Rob said although all these people were found and safely rescued, due to the often-extreme weather conditions on Cross Fell, lost walkers can quickly develop into hypothermic casualties in desperate need of assistance.
He added: “Cross Fell dominates the skyline in eastern Cumbria, standing guard over the Eden valley.
“The Pennine Way runs over its summit and the section of the walk from Dufton to Garrigill can present a long and challenging journey for the inexperienced hill goer.
“The path is sometimes indistinct and walkers losing the path can find themselves in peat hags, marshy ground and long, uninhabited valleys stretching away for many miles through wet, difficult and exhausting ground.”
As well as the hazards of wind and low cloud, Cross Fell has on average 105 days per year with snow lying on the ground – compared to 83 days on Helvellyn – and the average temperature in January is minus 2 oC.
“It is a serious place to find yourself in poor weather,” says Rob, “and being prepared is essential to ensure a safe and enjoyable walk over the fell.
“Cross Fell is a beautiful, rugged, wild, and remote area of England that is a fantastic place to visit. All we ask is that people do not underestimate it and take all precautions to make sure they stay safe and have a great day.”