TWO women spent the night on England's highest mountain after becoming detached from their party.

A concerned husband phoned 999 at around 10.30pm after his wife and sister failed to turn up at the summit of Scafell Pike.

At around 5pm, he and his two sons headed for the summit via Mickledore while the wife and sister decided to take the easier route via Lingmell Col, a spokesman for Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team said.

"When contacted by the police the team leader decided to wait until first light before calling the full team out and many manage to walk out early in the morning," he continued.

"The couple were fit and well had been to the summit then made a navigational error and headed down into Eskdale and came to a halt on steep ground.

"They had mobile contact with the team leader but had been unable to give sufficient information to locate their position sufficiently for a night-time search or be safely talked off the mountain."

The pair were found tired, cold and hungry at 8.45am on the southern slopes of Slight Side.

The search involved 13 Wasdale Team members, a Lake District Search Dog and a Sea King helicopter.

The Wasdale MRT spokesmand added: "Walkers are reminded to take sufficient clothing, equipment and food for emergency type situations such as this and also to keep together, especially in groups with limited navigation skill. 

"The two ladies had a map and compass but the potential knowledge was with the other sub group."