Police urge hill walkers to use maps not smartphone apps for navigation

Northern Constabulary are urging hill walkers not to rely solely on ‘smartphone’ apps for navigation.

On two occasions in recent days, both Police and Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team have been involved in the rescue of lost walkers who were relying entirely on apps which proved to be insufficient on their own.

Aviemore Acting Inspector Kevin MacLeod stated: “When you consider the dangers of getting lost in the mountains or of taking a false turn, it would be difficult to over-state the importance of being able to navigate accurately. ‘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.”

Simon Steer, Deputy Leader of the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team said: “Last night alone, we were involved in two separate incidents, involving a total of sixteen people, who had relied on ‘smartphone’ apps to navigate on the high tops, were very poorly equipped for the conditions, and become lost in the Cairngorms.

“Whilst these advances in technology are a great addition to the range of navigational aids, they do not remove the two key requirements to travel safely in the mountains which are the ability to navigate using traditional map and compass, even when supported by other technologies, and the need to go to the hills properly equipped for Scottish mountain weather.

“It’s great that more people are venturing into the hills, but we need to be very aware of the limitations of new technologies and avoid relying solely on them. Apps don’t give you a risk free passport to the mountains - if nothing else, the batteries don’t last indefinitely.”