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The route card is a source of some frustration to some and an essential safety aid to others, but what exactly is a “Route card”

A simple route card is a table that consists of a plan of where you are starting from and where you intend to go.

Why bother with one?

Recent news reports of climbers missing in Scotland (to date six are still missing) highlights the importance of why even a simple route card would aid Mountain Rescue in the event of a search.  Walkers get lost every season in outdoor areas considered less risky than the Mountains of Scotland.

What needs to be on a simple route card?

You can create your own route card easily – simply write out where you are starting from and where you intend to go, ideally a detail plan ogf the route with anticipated timings and possible escape routes should they be needed

As simple as that?

Yes – and no, you could if you so choose create a more technical route card with detailed grid references, height gained / lost and down the minute timings

What do I do with a route card once I have created one?

Leave it with someone responsible – someone who will act should you not report in at an agreed time.

What about the spirit of freedom and being able to just wander about – won’t a route card cramp my wanderlust?

Yes, I suppose it will if that’s how you see having a route card – perhaps viewing the route card as an emergency aid may assist

Do you always leave a route card

Not always – sometimes for low level easy routes I will simply let someone know where I am going and what time I expect to be back, however for more demanding walks or trips into the Dales or Mountain areas I would always leave one.   Professionally I will ALWAYS leave a routed card, often very detailed and have duty of care to do so.  In short when we are paid to guide we must by law complete and leave route cards and a way for others to communicate with us in the event of an incident.

What is the main reason for leaving a route card with someone

To avoid Mountain Rescue spending days or even weeks searching in the wrong place should I and my party become lost and having my family and friends worry unnecessarily , be smart…  leave route cards!