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Date of Incident






Having traversed Lingmoor and Side Pike my wife and I were returning to Elterwater via the path just above the National Trust campsite, at Dungeon Ghyll, around 3.30pm. At the time there was still plenty of daylight and good visibility in the valley so, as a Summer MLA holder and avid winter walker, I was not unduly concerned about our impending late finish as we were equipped with headtorches.

Coming across the ladder stile at GR NY 29250580 I commented to my wife that the rungs were well spaced and the platform was sloping so advised her to be careful while negotiating it.

Once she was safely across I climbed the West facing side to stand on the sloping platform. To maintain balance while turning before my descent I held on to the ‘arms’ at the top of the ladder for safety. In the next instant there was a sickening sound of splintering timber as the uphill arm broke off the stile sending me off balance on the sloping platform and reeling me round in an anti-clockwise direction before falling face first, around 8 feet, off the East side of the stile.

My wife looked on in horror as I fell to the ground ‘belly flop’ style with the outside of my left thigh taking the initial impact. Luckily I had instinctively raised my right arm across my face to protect my head from the impact, as the large hollow created by my arm bore witness to.

It took about five minutes to regain my composure and stop the ‘stars’ from spinning before I eventually regained my feet.

On closer inspection the ladder arm had wet rot right through the whole thickness of the spar, which must have led to its catastrophic failure. As a side note, continuing along the valley I noticed that the next ladder stile, just outside Side House farm, had suffered the same fate with one of the arms having broken off due to the timber having wet rot also.


Ladder stiles should be treated with extreme caution by all hill goers. Landowners should keep accurate records of the state of infrastructure on their land an public rights of way and permissive paths.


Winter walking


Traversing fields at the end of the day


Serious injury requiring medical treatment


Slip, trip or fall, Collapse of ladder stile



Reported By


Wearing Helmets?

Rescue Services Involved?

None - self rescue


11 February 2020 at 16:20:50

For more advice and guidance on good practices visit BMC skills

All reports are self-submitted and have not been edited by the BMC in any way, so please keep an open mind regarding the lessons and causes of each incident or near-miss. 

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