Mountain rescue teams across the county are thrilled to be back out on the fells for training, as a relaxed lockdown allows them to practise saving lives together once again.

With the threat of coronavirus hanging over them, rescue teams were forced to carry out virtual training and meetings with members.

As they have been unable to practice more difficult tasks, such as drone flying and stretcher carrying, “skill fade” has been a serious worry for the groups.

But with the go-ahead from police, Cumbria’s mountain rescue teams have hit the fells to carry out their vital training – and they couldn’t be more pleased.

“It really is good to be able to stand by your colleagues and talk things through, re-train, and really re-bond the team,” Richard Warren, Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association (LDSAMRA) chairman, said.

“The number of callouts started to creep up just before the Bank Holiday weekend when restrictions were relaxed a bit, as we’ve seen a lot of people coming from outside Cumbria for walks.

“It’s fantastic we can start properly training again – it’s not like riding a bike, you need to keep refreshing your skills.”

To keep in-line with remaining Covid-19 rules, members must keep a safe distance apart when training and when attending an emergency, and wearing full PPE where this isn’t possible.

Commenting on this, Richard said: “It’s been quite challenging for the teams – wearing full PPE is one thing, but wearing it when it’s 25 degrees and you’re carrying a stretcher is particularly challenging!”

Many of the 12 rescue teams throughout Cumbria have begun training again, with Lake District Mountain Rescue Search dogs also honing their skills to prepare for the summer callouts.

And with members travelling to training and emergency situations in their own cars in order to effectively social distance, more than 15 vehicles are expected at each session – something Richard wants visitors to bear in mind.

“We’d like to remind people about parking safely and allowing enough room for emergency vehicles to get past,” he said.

“Passing places are there for people to pass easily. When people use them for parking, it becomes gridlock and it’s awful.

“We’ve also heard of people slashing tyres because they think people shouldn’t be visiting the area, but people should bear in mind there will be team members’ cars in the car parks, and the last thing they’ll need is flat tyres after a callout.”

Richard added that teams are hoping to be regularly training, and the public will see the voluntary heroes out and about far more often now – something he and all team members are very happy about.