THREE inexperienced fell-walkers had to be rescued after they got lost in misty weather on Helvellyn.

The trio - one of who passed out - were brought to safety after a three hour rescue operation yesterday afternoon which involved dozens of volunteers from Patterdale and Keswick Mountain teams (MRTs).

In a statement today, the Keswick MRT said: "A party of three inexperienced walkers were intending to ascend Helvellyn on the usual path from Wythburn, Thirlmere.

"However, soon after leaving the car park, they lost the main track but continued upwards for several hours into the mist.

"They eventually called 999 after one of their party was said to have fainted.

"Patterdale MRT were tasked but had difficulty contacting the party due to intermittent mobile phone signal.

"As their location was not known Patterdale initiated a search and Keswick MRT were asked to support.

"On arriving at Wythburn Keswick MRT met a fourth member of the walking party who had returned down the hill, and just happened to be on the phone with the group."

During the call the teams were able to pinpoint the map grid reference where the missing walkers were using the Google Maps app: they were half way up the deep and trackless Birkside Gill. With this information the group were quickly located.

The statement added: "They were uninjured and were able to be walked down to the road just as it was getting dark and the just before the start of some heavy rain."

Taking part in the rescue were 21 Keswick team members and 27 Patterdale team members.

On Keswick MRT's Facebook page, there was a flood of complimentary comments from readers, though some were critical of the walking party.

Celia Pickles said: "Great job and thank you for being there for them. I hope that they have learned a good lesson today."

At 950 metres, Helvellyn is said to be England's third highest mountain and it has long been one of the country's most popular - though in winter hazardous - Lake District peaks.