The Lake District National Park’s Fell Top Assessors are celebrating 30 years of the Weatherline service as their season begins today (Friday).
The Fell Top Assessors team is tasked with daily climbs of one of England’s highest peaks, Helvellyn, to report on the weather and walking conditions in the Lake District during the winter months.
As the winter freeze sets in, the team is embarking on the 30th winter season since one of the first full-time recruits, Alistair Boston, helped to pioneer the role in 1987.
Alistair said: “To say the job was unheard of at that time is an understatement! It was a revolutionary way to keep walkers safe in the Lake District.
“Nowadays the Assessors post their weather reports online and on Twitter, and phone in to the recorded line from their mobiles, but in those days I walked around with a pocket full of 10p’s and had to call mine in from the nearest phone box!”
The role is currently shared by three mountaineers; Graham Uney, new recruit Zac Poulton and the longest standing Fell Top Assessor, Jon Bennett who is celebrating a milestone of his own this year seeing in his 10th season.
Jon said: “It’s great to have a part to play in keeping walkers in the Lake District safe, not only through our reports but also the many people we pass on our daily summit trek.
“People are naturally drawn to the peaks of the Lake District to explore the fantastic fells and take in the unbeatable views. However, people can underestimate how quickly walking conditions can change and often aren’t equipped to tackle any treacherous conditions.”
New recruit Zac added: “We’re urging walkers to check Weatherline each day before they set out on their walk so that they can properly prepare for the conditions of that day.
"Winter fell walking requires a different set of skills, and sometimes equipment, to that of the summer months and we encourage people to properly plan for their trips.”
Throughout the 30 years the Weatherline team have reached the summit of Helvellyn more than 4,500 times to keep walkers safe.