A warning that walkers should never underestimate the Pennine Way has been issued by the Borders Search and Rescue Unit.
It came after five hikers had to be plucked from the Cheviots by helicopter on Monday night.
Two fathers and their sons, two aged 19 and one aged 15, set out from Wooler at lunchtime to walk 25 miles over the Cheviot summit to their home at Byrness. By 8.20pm they were still about 10 miles from home, disorientated and with one of the 19-year-olds unable to continue with a leg problem. They were unable to reach a pick-up point four miles on, so put in an alert for help at 8.30pm. They only had one torch.
Twenty-two members of BSARU congregated at Pennymuir hut in the Kale valley. Two groups deployed onto the hills south of Lamb Hill and a third was preparing to make its way to Chew Green to sweep northwards when the bedraggled party was located by the helicopter huddled in long grass and flown to Pennymuir where they were monitored by the unit for 90 minutes before they were taken home.
Damon Rodwell of the BSARU commented: “They appear to have underestimated the challenge they had set themselves and started a bit later in the day. Anyone heading into the hills at this time of year should pack a torch and spare batteries.It’s all-too easy to lose time through poor weather, injury, fatigue or navigational problems. The forecast for the night was pretty grim, with dense cloud and heavy rain, and the group were very lucky to be spotted by the helicopter when they were. An hour later the weather had closed in and the chopper would have been unable to fly.”