Lancaster University

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Lancaster University Hiking Club

02/23/2001 15:23:54

The weekend of Week 4 saw the culmination of many weeks planning for twenty members of Lancaster University Hiking Club (LUHC) as they trained with the local mountain rescue team. The Club has close links with Bowland Pennine Mountain Rescue Team (BPMRT), as several Lancaster graduates who were formerly members of the Club have remained in the area and joined the Team.

The weekend was centred on the Team's headquarters near Dunsop Bridge in the Trough of Bowland, around thirty minutes drive east of the University. The building was specially converted from a row of four cottages to house a residential training centre that is often used for training trainee ambulance crew, management development and D of E groups. It is also an operational mountain rescue base with it's own operations room and helicopter pad!

The course, part funded by a Student Union safety grant and by the Club itself aimed to teach and develop navigation, group management skills and general hillcraft. Saturday was spent on the hills with the LUHC members divided into three groups, each with three BPMRT instructors, covering nearly twenty kilometres each. Alan Woodhead, of BPMRT, said that whilst the weather left a lot to be desired it was ideal for learning to navigate it. "The participants showed that they were capable of finding their way around in poor visibility, often using only a compass, monitoring the time and by counting their paces" he added, "We were very impressed by the skills demonstrated". After talking through the day's activities it was time to shower and do what students do best-drink.

Sunday morning's exercise gave the participants the chance to put into practice the first aid they had learnt on a Club-subsidised course at the start of term. Three 'casualties' were stranded on a gravel bank in the middle of a river near to the rescue team's base with varying degrees of injuries. Once again the LUHC members were broken down into three groups but the experts took a step back allowing the more experienced members of the Club to take control of the casualties' treatment. After diagnosis, the injured persons were stretchered uphill from the riverside, to a waiting BPMRT ambulance. "Getting to use the rescue team's kit and putting all our skills into practice was really beneficial," said third year Accounting student James Reakes. His comments were echoed by Becky Davenport, a second year Sociology student: "I'd feel much more confident taking a group out on the hill ".

Two weeks previously, five members of the Club acted as casualties in a major search and rescue exercise, involving teams from all over the North West, receiving mentions in at least three local newspapers. Andy Binstead, press officer for BPMRT, said this event was one of the most useful in the teams' training calendar, combining the teams' skills in rescue, casualty care, navigation and evacuation. The scenarios included a plane crash in a remote area, a walker stuck up to their waist in a bog and a party of lost scouts - all provided by the Hikers. Liaison protocols with the North West Air Ambulance were also practiced by the Team.

LUHC's outgoing President, Nick Mattock, told us "This weekend at Smelt Mill is a great training opportunity as it gives our leaders the chance to refresh and learn more advanced skills whilst targeting navigation and group management for potential leaders. However, the weekend was for all levels of ability with less-experienced members of the Club being given the chance to learn the basics of navigation and general hillcraft". He added, "Over the past year, the Club has encouraged as many as possible to get involved and learn more. We have organised our own navigation courses and hired a company to run a first aid course for us but the weekend with BPMRT has been the highlight. Nick also presented the Team with a cheque for two hundred pounds, raised over the past year by the Club.

For more information about Lancaster University Hiking Club visit their website at or visit them in the Faraday Foyer between one and two p.m., any weekday. More information about Bowland Pennine Mountain Rescue Team can be found online at