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Warning issued over smartphone over-reliance

Posted 15 August 2012
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Warning issued over smartphone over-reliance
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People should not rely too much on smartphones for navigational purposes when they go walking, police in the Highalnds have said.

The Northern Constabulary has issued a statement noting that too many walkers are getting into difficulties in the mountains because they believe the devices can offer an all-in-one solution to their navigating needs.

Acting inspector at Aviemore Police Kevon MacLeod said: "Smartphone apps are a great innovation but, on their own, they are not reliable enough for navigation in the mountains. In addition to being suitably experienced and equipped, walkers should have, and know how to use, a map and compass or other suitable navigational device."

This view was backed by the comments of deputy leader of the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team Simon Steer, who related how this week a total of 16 people had to be helped off the hills in two sperate incidents in which smartphones were used as the main means of navigating.

He also emphasised the need for walkers to have - and be able to read - Ordnance Survey maps.

Good map reading may be a particularly essential skill in the Cairngorms, while using smartphones means taking risks with batteries running out.

For example, a visitor approaching the range via its northern corries near Aviemore who took the wrong route could find themselves climbing on the wrong side of the Lairig Ghru in an area containing five of the six highest mountains in Britain.

The range is a remote one with very long distances between settlements and being able to find resting points such as the corrour Bothy or the Shelter Stone below Beinn Meadhoin may be particularly important as the daylight hours get shorter. 

Walkers in the Cairngorms must also be aware of the other dangers that may present themselves, such as the fact that the high plateau has a sub-arctic climate that can hold snow all year round in places and becomes hazardous to the ill-equipped at other times of year.