The members of Kirkby Stephen Mountain Rescue Team have a real affection for the hills and countryside in which they live and are, in many ways, evangelists for an area that is off many outdoor enthusiasts’ radar.

Mountain Rescue in the UK is part of a package that makes access to the outdoors easier and less expensive than most parts of the world.

Superb mapping provided by the likes of Ordnance Survey, a whole network of public rights of way and the more recent Open Access legislation have all helped to open up the countryside.

Knowing that there is a team of volunteers who will come your aid if things go wrong is a vital safety net and mountain rescuers themselves appreciate that, in the UK, this net exists without the need to pay for insurance.

Another vital component in this ‘access to the outdoors’ package is the opportunity to learn the skills needed to navigate and survive in what can be an unfamiliar, and sometimes challenging, environment.

It’s a skill set that can be learned at any age but it is especially valuable for young people, as it opens up so many possibilities for their health, enjoyment and development.

For many years now the Kirkby Stephen team has had a special relationship with town’s Grammar School and its Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, stemming from the time when the school agreed to lease the land on which the mountain rescue team base was built.

Every year – apart sadly from this year when the programme had to be cancelled – Kirkby Stephen Mountain Rescue Team members spend a series of evenings, weekend days and finally an expedition weekend throughout spring and summer guiding some 20 or so teenagers through their bronze Duke of Edinburgh expedition.

It is a way of passing on to another generation a love and respect for the outdoors, and also a level of repayment to those teachers, Scout and Guide leaders and others who did the same when they were young.

Some of the Grammar School students get the bug and go on to do their silver and even gold awards, often with further help from the team.

Eventually – you never know – some may return to become team members themselves.