Rescue workers last night urged National Parks to introduce a licensing system to control the numbers of charity walkers attempting to climb Britain's highest peaks. Rescue teams, they said, could not carry on automatically turning out to help lost walkers.
They warn the Three Peaks Challenge, involving Snowdon in Wales, Ben Nevis in Scotland and Scafell Pike in the Lake District, is overwhelming mountain rescuers as well as the environment. In the latest incident, two lost walkers had to be talked down to safety after getting lost on the Lakes fells.
Richard Warren, of Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team, said: "Sometimes we despair... The lost pair of walkers were part of a 90-strong group. They had no mountaineering experience, no map or compass... They also did not know where they had started from or where they were going to."
Team leader Mike Gullen said: "It's the same on Snowdon and Ben Nevis. [Walkers] are putting a massive strain on mountain rescue services, which are manned by volunteers. Some just treat it as a jolly. The authorities need to introduce some sort of licence system, restricting numbers. People need to understand that we will not deploy in most of these cases."