30th August 2006 Oldest and highest
According to a survey by Lake District volunteer Peter Flynn, over sixties are striding up England's highest mountain while teenagers are mostly giving Scafell Pike a miss. One of the biggest fans is a retired octogenarian Methodist minister who has scaled the mountain several hundred times, while the youngest interviewed was a 10-year-old girl who gave the experience a definite thumbs up.
In winter months, more than 50 per cent of hikers were over 60 and the rest aged between 20 and 40. The survey shows a distinct difference between summer and winter participants. Better weather brings out the more casual - and less skilled - walkers. "I get the distinct impression that in summer people are determined to try to get to the summit, irrespective of the weather, without fully appreciating that this can be a dangerous place for the unprepared," said Peter.
"Scafell Pike has always been a very special place, since my first trip in 1966. I've probably been up about 100 times and often wondered about the other walkers." Peter started his survey in January and has so far asked around 120 people a series of questions, including information about their routes, abilities, ages and equipment. "I wanted to find how many were there just to 'bag' the highest mountain in England and had no real interest in walking. I was also keen to discover a bit more from the more dedicated hill enthusiasts," he explained.
Peter said he felt some made it up and down by following the cairns and a reasonable amount of luck, rather than sound judgement. "In winter and spring, the level of competence was quite high and nearly everyone enjoyed walking and took it seriously. Although one party produced a Readers Digest GB road atlas when asked which map they were using! "Most people were adequately equipped. One man said although he hadn't got a whistle, he was, in fact, a good yodeller. " Peter said he had been disheartened by the amount of litter around the summit, but that mostly his findings were positive.