A remote wooden stretcher box that has become a familiar landmark on the Lake District fells has been replaced with a new weather resistant aluminium container.
The old trunk on Sty Head Pass, between the mountains of Great Gable and Scafell Pike, has provided walkers with rescue equipment and re-assurance for many years.
Keswick Mountain Rescue Team said the new aluminium box was better able to deal with the area’s “extremes of weather.”
It was hoisted into place by helicopter with the help of volunteers from the Keswick team.
It resembles one at Mickledore, which is looked after by members of the neighbouring Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team.
There used to be six of these mountain rescue ‘kits’ placed strategically round the Lake District mountains but most have now gone.
Mountain rescue “kits” and “posts” used to be marked on Ordnance Survey maps.
A kit identified a location where a quantity of rescue equipment had been placed at a suitable place on the fells, while a post identified the location of the headquarters of the local rescue team.
There have been rescue kits on the Lake District fells in one form or another since the late 1930s when people involved in climbing or hill walking agreed to provide stretchers and first aid equipment stored in rucksacks.
These were placed at suitable locations, hotels or farms at valley heads.
The pre-war St John Ambulance Brigade of Borrowdale answered calls when people were injured in their locality but, in the main, it was “climber helping climber.”
In 1938 this facility moved forward when a mountain rescue kit was established on Sty Head Pass.
The kit comprised a St John stretcher in a wooden box, painted black and white for easy spotting in bad weather.
There was also a “suitcase” containing bandages, which was placed in a wooden box on a pole alongside.
The thinking behind this was to allow climbers to rescue themselves rather than having to call others.
This kit lasted until the late 1940s by which time Mother Nature had done her worst and the whole lot had disintegrated and been spread over the hillside and nearby Sty Head Tarn.
With the establishment of mountain rescue teams in the late 1940s and into the 1950s, it was agreed to replace the kit on Sty Head.
A much more substantial box was constructed and paid for by the national Mountain Rescue Committee and it was carried up by Keswick MRT.
This box had a Thomas stretcher, blankets and rucksack containing first aid kit, all stored inside.
Access was gained through a lid which had a chain bolt type fastening. This lid proved to be the box’s downfall.
It allowed people to open the lid and use the box to shelter in, also allowing the elements to pour inside, and strong wind also affected the lid, eventually preventing it from closing properly.
It was again replaced in the 1960s by a box which had four angle iron legs concreted into the ground and bolted into place.
It contained similar kit as before and access was gained through a lift-up door at end.
It was airlifted into place by a helicopter which had the box slung underneath.
Some 30 years later, showing signs of wear and tear, the box was again airlifted back to Keswick Mountain Rescue Team’s headquarters where it was repaired before being returned to Sty Head.
The repairs were carried out by a team member, the son of the joiner who made the box in the 1960s