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Woolly solution for mountain rescue team

Wool is being used to replace plastic tags

A mountain rescue team in the Lake District has scrapped the use of plastic tags, and replaced them with wool from the local sheep.

Volunteers with Langdale Ambleside Mountain Rescue Team used plastic seals on the packs they take up into the hills when lives are in danger.

Sarah Anderson

But team member Sarah Anderson realised there was a more sustainable way to go after talking with a neighbour who works for a designer using Herdwick wool.

Sarah, an upland ranger with the Fix the Fells programme, said: “When we have a rescue call-out, we seal our bags once the contents are checked so we know they’re packed correctly. But we’re conscious that we drop these occasionally, leaving plastic lost in the outdoors.”

She talked to neighbour Letty Ashworth, who makes bags and accessories from Herdwick wool at Lakeland Stitch, and works for the Woolly Rug Company, a riverside studio which creates individually-designed floor rugs using the wool from the native Herdwick sheep.

Jane Exley and Letty Ashworth

She in turn discussed the idea with Jane Exley, the interior designer who founded the Woolly Rug Co, and they donated a skein of Herdwick wool for the mountain rescuers to test.

LAMR team leader Nick Owen said: “This just makes sense. We had our first post-rescue repack with the wool seals and it’s been very well received. And our colleagues in the Duddon mountain rescue team saw it in action over the weekend and took some to try themselves. I think it’s a winner.”

Jane Exley said: “The wool from Herdwick sheep is incredibly strong and resilient. It has so many uses now, and we are delighted to see the mountain rescuers realise its potential as a sustainable alternative. Herdwick wool is biodegradable as well as sustainable, especially if it’s accidentally left on the fells.”

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