A couple of fell runners got into difficulties on the Border Ridge in harsh winter conditions yesterday. They had started in Kirk Yetholm and were hoping to follow the Pennine Way all the way to Byrness. Unfortunately conditions on the tops were hard going with snow and ice on the ground, strong winds and severe wind chill. After Windy Gyle the couple started to suffer from the cold but thankfully they made it as far as the refuge hut at Yearning Saddle from where they raised the alarm.
North of Tyne Mountain Rescue Team and ourselves responded from the English side of the border and Border Search and Rescue Unit from Scottish side as part of a standard operational response to an incident on our boundary. Our two blue light response vehicles were deployed swiftly from Rothbury with other members travelling direct to the RVP at Blindburn in Upper Coquetdale.
On arrival at Blindburn, the shepherd very kindly offered to transport some of our members up the hill to the mountain refuge. His support was gratefully accepted and this allowed us to get a Team medic and a couple of other members up onto the Border Ridge relatively swiftly. Two other members followed on foot while others were held in the valley in case additional equipment or support was required for the evacuation.
The condition of the two runners was assessed by two of our medics and their wet clothing was replaced with warm mid and outer layers. Following a period of rewarming, the runners were walked the 3.5km off the hill in the dark down to Blindburn. Northumbria Police then transported the two runners round to their intended finish point at Byrness.
All the volunteers then stood down, returning home to their families and returning the response vehicles back to their respective bases before sorting out all the wet kit.
We would like to thank the shepherd at Blindburn for his invaluable support and the three walkers who arrived at the refuge after the runners – they were spending the night up there – and provided the runners with some additional layers and some hot food. The actions of the walkers helped avoid the situation getting worse.
The incident involved 23 members for 4 hours 50 minutes.