WALKERS wearing Ugg boots, flipflops and other ‘inappropriate’ footwear are putting life and limb at risk on Lake District fells, it has been claimed.

Now visitors are being warned by North West Air Ambulance to take more care.

Lynda Brislin, air ambulance chief executive, said: “Ugg boots may be practical for flat ground but not for the fells.

"They don't have good grip on the soles like walking boots and some are not waterproof."

Ugg UK brand director Robert Birrell said: “Ugg Australia is a luxury lifestyle brand designed to keep your feet warm in the winter and cool in the summer. “It is not, nor has it ever been, a technical performance brand.”

Pilots and paramedics with the air ambulance service have issued the alert as the main holiday season gets under way.

Mountain rescue teams in the region are also reporting an increase in the number of people taking to the hills in inadequate footwear.

In 2009, mountain rescue teams in the Lake District dealt with 532 incidents, offering assistance to 675 people.

Of them, 68 (10 per cent) were deemed by volunteers to have inadequate or poor footwear.

But of the 309 rescues in the Lake District so far this year, some 38 people were poorly shod – which represents 12 per cent of incidents.

Mountain rescue incident officer Jed Feeney said: “2009 was the busiest year on record for us. The Lake District deals with a lot of holidaymakers so there is a higher chance of them going on the hills with inadequate footwear.”

Ms Brislin said: “We have seen a dramatic increase of missions into the Lake District during June. It was partic-ularly warm so people were out and about taking advantage of it, but what they failed to do was take adequate precautions. They were walking in flip-flops and not carrying enough water.”

From the air, ambulance crew members have spotted people in pumps, Crocs, flip-flops and Ugg boots – often also without waterproofs.

Ambulance technician Warren Bil-lington said: “You can go up on the hills in hot weather and think everything is fine but it closes in so quickly. It’s all right walking around your garden in flip-flops but not in the hills. You need proper boots with ankle support and grip.”

Nick Owen, team leader of Langdale and Ambleside mountain rescue, said call-outs for people ill-equipped for the weather and terrain accounted for between 35 and 40 per cent of all rescues.

“Most people are unlucky but a third of rescues could be avoided if people wore appropriate clothing and footwear. Ugg boots and Crocs are a no-no as far as I’m concerned, they don’t fit properly, have no grip and ankle support and you could end up stumbling.”

To avoid more accidents on the fells, North West Air Ambulance advise walkers to take at least one bottle of water, waterproof clothing, energy bars, anti-blister bandages and suitable walking boots.

Ugg boots have gained huge popularity since 2000 and soon became firm favourite among celebrities and WAGS.

The unisex sheepskin and fleece lined boots are believed to have been first designed for Australian cattle shearers in the 1920s.

Heights range from around the ankle to above the knee and they are available in a range of different colours.