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Heading for the hills? Don't forget your torch

Thursday 27th October 2022, 11:33am

While many people in Scotland will be looking forward to an extra hour in bed this Sunday, outdoor lovers will be preparing for one less hour of daylight on the hills.

Autumn can be a fantastic time to enjoy Scotland’s mountains, with fewer crowds on the most popular peaks and beautiful autumn colours to enjoy. But as the clocks go back this weekend, hill walkers and other hill users are being urged to make sure they have the right kit – particularly a headtorch and a spare – to avoid being caught out in the dark.

Mountaineering Scotland’s Senior Mountain Safety Advisor, Ross Cadie, explained: “With the shortening of the days, it is really important to have a reliable headtorch. It doesn’t matter how good your navigation is if you can’t look at the map or see the ground in front of you. I always carry a spare headtorch too, because it’s not easy to change batteries in the dark.”

Ross added: “Many of us love exploring the mountains because we enjoy challenging ourselves and feel most alive when we’re in the hills. But with changing conditions, the margin for error is much smaller. 

“The weather can change for the worse very quickly so you need to carry the right kit to cope with the conditions.

“At this time of year, I recommend carrying a waterproof jacket, waterproof trousers, a warm synthetic jacket, a hat, at least two pairs of gloves, and a map and compass. You should also carry a survival bag or a group shelter if you’re heading out with others.”

Heather Morning, Chief Instructor at Glenmore Lodge said: “The transitional time between summer and winter can deliver some very challenging mountain conditions for the unprepared.

“Those venturing out into the hills should expect and be prepared for high winds, low temperatures, fewer hours of daylight, and potentially fresh snow underfoot.

“If you’re new to hill walking or think you might be feeling rusty in key skills like navigation or moving over technical terrain, it’s worth attending a training course or accessing free online resources such as the Glenmore Lodge YouTube channel to make sure you have the knowledge and skills to keep yourself safe.”

Inspector Matt Smith, Police Scotland lead for mountain rescue advised, “Autumnal weather can bring extreme conditions across our hills when you least expect it and this, along with diminishing daylight, has caught a number of people out in recent weeks.

“Properly planning your day is one of the most important things you can do before you set out.  Keep your ambitions in line with your experience and in addition to your torch, carry spare warm clothing, food and a power bank for your phone in case of an emergency, and never be afraid to change your plans or turn back if you need to.”

Kev Mitchell, Vice Chair at Scottish Mountain Rescue, added: “Spending time in our mountains and wild places across Scotland has become more important and more popular than ever, whether you are new to the hills or an experienced mountaineer.

“Help our volunteer teams, before you head to the hills, by ensuring that you are properly equipped and prepared for all conditions and remember to check the mountain weather forecasts and be aware of your limits.

“Please remember that if you are lost, in need of assistance or in an emergency in the mountains, dial 999 ask for POLICE then MOUNTAIN RESCUE. Our volunteer teams will assist any hour, any day, any weather.”