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The Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue column with David Dennis

The fell rescue team in action during the Beckermonds call out. Photo by Iain Geldard.
The fell rescue team in action during the Beckermonds call out. Photo by Iain Geldard.

It’s been another very busy year with the team dealing with some 50 call-outs – just seven short of our record two years ago. The very last two days of the year involved supporting the police in a lengthy, and thankfully successful, search in Harrogate for a missing elderly and vulnerable man.

Harrogate area rescues continue to increase with 19 over the year, mainly in Nidderdale.

Brimham Rocks had four call outs.

July was again the busiest month totalling 10 operations. It also had the team out five times in a week.

A significant and encouraging trend is that the man hours needed for rescues is reducing each year.

In 2013 it totalled 1905 hours and last year the total had steadily reduced to 1591 hours. This figure would have been much lower but for the Harrogate search which involved some 240 man hours.

We attribute this reduction to new technology and in particular the methods that are employed to speedily form a rescue team and how the rescue can be controlled and streamlined to readily deal with ever-changing circumstances.

Technology has also helped by reduced the numbers needed on the call out.

It is now rare that the entire team is needed for one rescue.

Last year, the biggest call out team contained 31 members when 21 students were lost near How Stean Gorge.

A pleasing statistic is that this has been the fifth consecutive year we have been able to stay at home with our families on Christmas Day. The biggest category of rescues has been due to injuries with 19 of these being to the lower legs.

Overdue or lost rescues were down to five and again a pleasing figure demonstrating that safety precautions and preparation methods are being practised.

Fatalities were again at two – a new low in recent times.

Good news for animals as well as only two were needed rescuing – a spaniel called Chubbs who had fallen down a 60ft hole near Pateley Bridge before being returned uninjured to its delighted owners and a dog with its owner which had become trapped on a ledge near Bolton Abbey.

Searching for vulnerable people who had gone missing from their local communities accounted for eight call outs – the average over recent years.

Caving rescues were just the one when a caver was stuck in Swan Dike Pot Pen-y-Ghent Gill with 22 members taking some 200 man hours to get him out.

This was in addition to the support given by the Cave Rescue Organisation, our adjacent team.

The major fundraising event was again the UWFRA inspired Wharfedale Three Peaks Challenge. This was the fourth year it was held and brought in a brilliant £7,000.

This year’s event will be held on the last Saturday in June and bookings are already available on line.

We continue to strive to obtain the best technology we can afford to add to our own expertise and dedication.

We are always so grateful to members of the public who though their support, donations and fundraising, keeps us going.