Rescuers search wrong fell after walkers change plans

Rescuers spent the morning searching the wrong Lakeland fell today for a missing couple who had changed their planned route.

Members of the Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team and colleagues from the Keswick team were joined by handlers from the Search and Rescue Dogs Association in a major search in the Helvellyn area. One of the missing walkers was known to have a medical condition.

The operation was launched at 10.30am today, Friday, after the pair failed to return to their bed and breakfast accommodation in Windermere. They had said they intended to climb Helvellyn.

At 10.30 hours on Friday 28th August 2009, Patterdale and Keswick Mountain Rescue Teams, supported by the Search & Rescue Dog Association, launched a major search for two walkers, thought to be missing in the Helvellyn area.

The couple, both in their forties, had left their lodgings the previous day.

Mike Blakey of Patterdale MRT, who led the operation, said: “All we knew from the bed and breakfast was that they were intending to go up one side or other of Helvellyn.

“So we put up teams on all the main routes up Helvellyn.”

A spokesperson for Patterdale MRT said: “The couple had chosen to ascend a mountain in a different part of the Lake District, and as such all the resources of the mountain rescue teams were deployed in the wrong area.”

The couple spent an ‘uncomfortable’ night on the fells, according to rescuers, when they got lost in mist. The walkers eventually got themselves off the fells safely after daybreak and made it back to their holiday base about midday.

It is unclear where the pair were, but it is believed they may have ended up walking in the Glaramara area above Borrowdale.

The spokesperson continued: “Unfortunately they were not carrying a compass or torch and so were unable to make their own way down or signal for help.

“Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team would like to remind people to leave clear details of their intended route and, critically, advise of any subsequent changes, and also to carry appropriate equipment including a whistle and torch.”

Five Sarda dogs and their handlers joined 18 Patterdale MRT members and a number from the Keswick team in the search for the walkers.

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