Ill-prepared “Instagram hikers” have been warned against heading into the Peak District hills to take photos by the eerie wreckage of a plane after mountain rescue volunteers were called out twice in one day to assist them.
The crash site at Higher Shelf Stones, on moorland between Manchester and Sheffield, contains large sections of a US military plane plunged into a ridge in fog in 1948, killing all 13 men on board.
During lockdown it became a popular check-in site on social media, with hikers flocking to take pictures of the debris.
But as winter approaches, the nearby Glossop mountain rescue team are urging visitors to the wreckage to be prepared for poor weather and difficult terrain, following a series of recent rescues.
“The Peak District has become a big draw for visitors from Greater Manchester, Yorkshire and beyond during the recent lockdown. Higher Shelf Stones in particular has found unlikely fame on TikTok and Instagram, thanks to its eerie and photogenic landscape, where the natural beauty of the area contrasts with the wreckage of a crashed B29 Superfortress, leading to two incidents in a three-hour period over the weekend, on top of one the day before near to Crowden,” said the volunteer group on Facebook.
“Visitors should be aware that social media only tells them half the story,” said team leader Patch Haley.
“Always check the weather before you set off. Conditions can change without warning at these elevations, and low cloud can reduce visibility drastically. It’s easy to get disorientated and wet, and that’s when hypothermia can set in. And remember to allow plenty of time to get back before sunset, as conditions underfoot will become claggy, and navigation nearly impossible. Make sure you bring food, water, a torch, and a map and compass. And be confident you can use them.”
The Glossop team also issued a plea for walkers to tell them if they manage to reach safety before help arrives, after they wasted time twice last week looking for hikers who were already at home.
In one case, dozens of Mountain Rescue volunteers, alongside several search dogs, rushed to scour Higher Shelf Stones after receiving information about a hiker in difficulty. As the night wore on, concerns grew and more volunteers were called in. Finally, the team made phone contact with the missing party, and discovered they were not only safe and well, but at home some distance away.
“This has happened twice in recent weeks,” said Haley. “We’re always glad to hear that people are safe, but I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep us informed. If people do make their own way down after they call emergency services for assistance, it’s vital they let us know via 101. My fear is that with higher volumes of walkers visiting the area during lockdown, more of these false alarms will leave our rescue team overstretched, and at risk of struggling to reach those who are genuinely in need of urgent assistance.”