SCOTTISH Mountain Rescue teams are dealing with around a third more callouts than before lockdown, according to recent figures.  

Almost 700 people were rescued last year by mountain rescue teams across Scotland, as there were more callouts in 2023 than in the previous year.

More than half of callouts were linked to mountaineering, totalling 319 incidents, according to the figures.

A total of 677 people were helped last year, almost a third more than in 2020 when 480 people were saved.

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Nine animals were also rescued in 2023, including two dogs and seven sheep.

Rescue teams attended 572 separate incidents last year, which is a decrease compared to 636 in 2022.

However, the number of separate team callouts was 870 in 2023, compared to 843 in 2022, which included linked callouts on different days.

Rescuers volunteered 32,762 hours in 2023 to attend callouts across 278 days, compared to 29,804 hours in 2022.

Almost three-quarters of hillwalking incidents occurred in the summer, and the Highlands and Islands had the most of any region of Scotland with 156.

The longest duration of a callout was 15 days, and there were four incidents that lasted for five days in 2023.

A spokesperson for Scottish Mountain Rescue said: “This year’s annual review reflects another extremely busy year for teams, with callouts still around a third higher than pre-pandemic.

“All of this plus continued rising costs has had an impact on teams stretching their resources further.”

A total of 41 deaths were recorded, including seven which occurred during mountaineering incidents.

According to figures the busiest day of 2023 was September 8 when 12 teams were called out.

Bill Glennie, chair of Scottish Mountain Rescue, says mountain rescue teams are facing increased pressures and that funding is vital.

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He said: “Our member mountain rescue teams have faced increased callouts in recent years, stretching their resources.

“We are facing a loss of funding as the UK Search and Rescue Training Fund, which previously funded a significant portion of team and national training, is phased out.

“The support that Scottish Mountain Rescue and our member teams receive financially is vital and is needed now more than ever.”