VOLUNTEER mountain rescuers have dubbed Saturday a poor day for 'navigational competence' in the Lake District after three call outs within 25 minutes of each other.

Unpaid rescuers were run ragged in awful conditions yesterday on a day which left them shaking their heads.

One incident in Great Langdale involved a man suffering from 'slurred speech and blurred vision' who was taken back to a local pub by his friends, rescuers reported.

Rescuers and an air ambulance had already set off to help, with the latter forced to turn back due to the poor weather and visibility, and the team members then diverted to another call out.

Starting at 3.55pm yesterday, volunteer members of Langdale and Ambleside Mountain Rescue Team (LAMRT) put in several hours on the fells.

It also meant drawing on resources from neighbouring teams in Kendal and Wasdale.

Five people - three women in one party and two men in another - both reported being lost near Bowfell at the head of Great Langdale at around 4.20pm.

LAMRT said they managed brief conversation with the men, who were not where they thought they were, and then lost contact with them for several hours.

However, four team members continued searching in poor conditions for five hours, and the lost men eventually found their way down to Brotherikeld.

At the same time, the three women had also called police to request help from Bowfell.

A spokesman for LAMRT said: "Life is rarely so simple that all five (people) might meet and have some form of navigational epiphany and find their own way."

Crews used special equipment to find the women which, 'much to their surprise,' said rescuers, put them 'at the head of Piers Ghyll' which is some distance away from Bowfell in the neighbouring Wasdale Valley.

The team, which covers Britain's busiest mountain area, said: "We were able to tell them where they were, and making use of this information, and the remaining daylight, they found their own way to Wasdale."

He added: "Their progress was monitored by Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team, who had been alerted once we realised where they were. A profitable night for West Coast taxi drivers and a poor day for navigational competence!"

At 3.55pm, they had also been called out to a genuine report of a 17-year-old girl walking in the Far Easedale area above Grasmere, who had suffered a knee injury and was unable to continue her walk.

Kendal Mountain Search and Rescue Team were requested to assist and the young woman was treated by team members and then evacuated by stretcher in rain, mist and across water-swollen rivers.

It was at 4pm, they were also needed at Stickle Ghyll, Great Langdale, to assist the man 'who had suffered an episode of blurred vision, slurred speech'. 

The spokesman explained: "The team was called and we were on route when we were informed that his friends had managed to get him down and in to the pub, and only the ambulance was required. The air ambulance had previously turned back to due poor weather."

Summarising the day, the spokesman said: "It's a long slog up and a long slog back... and it was wet!"