Highlands & Islands

Navigating by phone not smart, says mountaineering group

Couple on a trek using a mobile phone Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption MCofS has flagged up problems with walkers relying on gadgets for navigating in Scotland's hills

The Mountaineering Council of Scotland has asked people not to rely on smartphones and GPS devices as navigation tools in the hills.

It has urged hillwalkers not already versed in the use of a map and compass to learn the skill.

The council's warning comes ahead of the busy summer walking season.

MCofS said there was a recent incident where a couple had to be rescued from a situation they could have got out of themselves with a map and compass.

Heather Morning, mountain safety adviser for the council, said: "This couple were able to use their GPS to give the emergency services a 10 figure grid reference, which narrows a position down to one square metre - and that's exactly where we found them.

"If only they'd had the ability to relate the grid reference to the map that they had, they would have been able to get off the hill safely on their own.

"They just didn't have the knowledge to properly use the equipment they had, or to navigate without it."

Ms Morning added: "They were lucky that where they got 'lost' they had mobile phone reception, otherwise it might have been a very different story."

The safety adviser said there was also the risk of phones and other devices running out of battery power.

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