Busiest year on record for fell rescue

Despite Covid restrictions and lockdowns during 2021, Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association had its busiest year on record.

By Janet Harrison
Wednesday, 5th January 2022, 2:59 pm

The Grassington-based outfit had 73 callouts, beating the previous record of 56 in 2020, it stated in its annual report.

The team are one of the few Mountain Rescue teams who cover underground rescues as well as the more traditional surface and water incidents.

“To maintain our capabilities, raise funds and carry out our rescues, takes a lot of commitment from the 60 volunteers who make up the operational team,” said the report.

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“This year (2021) they have contributed 2,690 volunteer hours to rescues up from 1,924 in 2020, and 2,513 volunteer hours training and 2,475 hours doing management and fundraising.

“These figures only include the formal training and events, with many more spent in the background.

“We never know when we are going to get a callout and even looking back from year to year does not help the planning.”

The report added: “The busiest month of 2020, July, only made third spot in 2021, tying with June on nine callouts, April came second with 10 and May hit the top spot with 11 incidents, three of them on the same day.

“Our regular hot spots of Brimham Rocks and Ilkley Moor have featured again in 2021, though they were not as busy as in 2020 with only four calls to each.

“It is not that these locations are more dangerous than anywhere else, they just get considerably more visitors.”

The team had eight callouts to help with searches, the majority of which involved dementia or mental health issues.

“At the end of October we were called to assist in the search for a walker who had failed to return and whose car had been found in Kettlewell,” added the report.

“The teams were deployed to meet at first light and spent the day covering the likely routes on Great Whernside along with other paths in the valley.

“Day two of the search covered the flanks of Great Whernside with areas in Nidderdale and Coverdale searched during a third day of searching.

“The teams were also supported by North Yorkshire Police, National Police Air Service and the Coastguard S92 helicopter from Humberside.

“Sadly, the following week the casualty was located deceased outside the search areas.”