Just as our response vehicle was being ‘put to bed’ for the night after the previous incident…
Northumbria Police sent a PhoneFind text at 21.50hrs for a ‘male lost in Kielder Forest’ and a few minutes later North of Tyne Mountain Rescue Team and ourselves were activated for a second time on Saturday night. One of our controllers immediately spoke to the Police control room and then the informant – the wife of the lost walker – to confirm the situation.
The couple had left their car at the Skyspace car park and walked up to the trig point, spot height 454, on Purdom Pikes. At this point, about 18.15hrs, the couple split up with the husband taking a more direct route and his wife retracing their route. When the male did not turn up at Skyspace, a call to Police was made.
Mountain Rescue resources including three response vehicles were swiftly mobilised to the Kielder Observatory. On arrival our operational command spoke with the informant and were able to ascertain that her husband had described his position as “beside a tall tree line.” Other information indicated that he had been unable to get through the forest due to significant tree fall from Storm Arwen. Unfortunately by this stage the walker’s phone had a very low battery and we were unable to contact him again.
Search groups were deployed up to the Purdom Pikes area to search the the tree line and open moorland, while vehicles and other members were tasked to search the forest tracks. A request to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency was also made for a search and rescue helicopter. Tweed Valley Mountain Rescue Team were also alerted in case the incident escalated.
Thankfully, just as the Rescue Coordination Centre for the search and rescue helicopters, contacted our operational commander at approximately 00.45hrs, one of our search groups radioed to confirm that they could hear whistles. Soon after it was confirmed that they had located the lost walker, exhausted but otherwise okay. After some food and drink, the walker was slowly walked off the hill to the nearest vehicle access point for a short ride back to the Observatory where he was reunited with his relieved wife.
The couple were very appreciative of our efforts and relieved that their ordeal had ended well.
We would like to thank the other agencies who were willing to support us and special mention should go to the staff at the Kielder Observatory who made us feel very welcome and provided us with teas and coffee to keep us going!
The incident involved 16 Team members for 6 hours 5 minutes.