Lake District mountain rescue teams have seen a ‘significant increase’ in mountain bike accidents over the past year.

The annual report of the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association (LDSMRA) published this week shows that the number of incidents and fatalities fell sharply in 2011.

Cumbria’s 12 rescue teams were called out 424 times last year, compared to 600 in 2010 – a decrease of 29 per cent.

And the number of deaths dropped 43 per cent – down from 30 to 17.

Some 499 people needed help in 2011, down from 676 the previous year, with falls and people getting lost the most common calls.

The lower numbers are being put down to a drop in visitor numbers and a less severe winter.

However, mountain bike accidents, including one which led to a death, have jumped 160 per cent with 26 accidents in 2011, compared to ten last year.

Ged Feeney, incident report officer at LDSMRA, said such accidents were rising because of an increase in the number of mountain bike trails in the area and more people taking part.

“People are taking up the sport and not realising the danger,” said Mr Feeney.

“If you hit a tree at 30mph the tree is going to win and there is a tendency for people to over-estimate their ability when assessing whether they go down a particular route.

“We are advising caution when trying a new trail.”

The latest incident happened on Saturday when Kendal Mountain Rescue Team was called to help a woman with an injured hip in Kentmere.

She was helped down from a fell by a friend before they called for help at Hallow Bank Quarter.

Team members treated the cyclist before carrying her to a Land Rover, which took her to a waiting ambulance at Barley Bridge, Staveley.

Kendal team leader Eddie Harrison said the cyclist was well equipped and that people should enjoy such activities.

“Take all the safety procedures you can and enjoy it,” said Mr Harrison. “Accidents do happen, just take extra care and go prepared.”

Ian Boydon, author of the Mountain Biking in the Lake District guidebook, said there were significant health benefits from mountain biking.

“You do see more riders on the trails now than ten years ago and that will inevitably lead to more incidents,” he said.

“Mountain biking is fantastic and a great way to enjoy the spectacular landscape of the Lake District. However, people need to remember it is an extreme sport and they should ride within their abilities and wear safety gear such as helmets.”

The report also revealed that water sports incidents had risen since 2010 with three of the seven call-outs last year being fatalities. Rescuers said it highlighted the need for training and supervision.