Rob Ingham, team leader of Coniston Mountain Rescue Team, knows that venturing out on to the fells, particularly in the winter months, should never be underestimated

What may seem a nice (or even not so nice) day in the valley can quickly become wet, dark and difficult on the tops.

Visitors need to be aware of the risks of heading into the mountains and that, whatever they do, essential kit, and the knowledge to use it, must be carried.

Walkers must not underestimate the challenge of walking in the hills in winter, with early dusk, heavy rain, high winds, snow, ice and freezing cold temperatures. Most of all, they should give themselves extra time for a winter walk and don’t set out late in the day.

Maps, compass, torch (and a spare), whistle, warm clothing, waterproofs, suitable footwear, food, drink, a shelter, hat and gloves.

All of these items are essential, but it isn’t unusual for the team to find people without some or all of the above.

With no map and compass it is easy to lose your route. This means extra time is needed or you may even have to stop if you have no torch to light the way.

Without waterproof clothing, getting wet and cold while lost in the dark or injured and stuck can quickly lead to hypothermia.

Whilst the team do not want to stop people from going out on the fells and cannot tell people what they should be doing, they ask everybody to think about their plans and check that they have the right equipment to accomplish them. And remember, there is no shame in turning around and reversing your route – save the walk for a better day.

There is no better feeling than being in the hills, confident in your skills and equipment. Yes, accidents can happen, they can happen to us all, but a lot of incidents can be avoided, and lives saved with just a bit more planning and care.

Finally, please remember that, if you are unfortunate enough to need assistance, please do not hesitate to call the emergency services for mountain rescue to come to your aid.