A major search for a man believed to be missing while cycling in the Cheviots has been called off after it was discovered he had given false information to hotel staff who raised the alarm.
The man, who gave his name as David Bibby, was reported missing after he failed to return to the Black Bull Hotel in Wooler on Thursday.
But police said this morning it is believed he gave hotel staff a false name and false information about going cycling in the Cheviots and is not missing.
Hotel staff made the report in good faith and police are now carrying out inquiries to identify the man and speak to him about the incident.
He had told hotel staff on Thursday he was going for a long mountain bike ride in the Cheviots and that he would be returning in the evening. He left at 9.15am. But staff raised concerns when he didn’t return on a day when there were gale-force winds.
A search involving a Sea King search and rescue helicopter from RAF Boulmer and the Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team was launched at 11pm on Thursday night.
The helicopter crew used night-vision goggles and a heat-seeking camera to search for him. North of Tyne Mountain Rescue Team and Border Search and Rescue Unit also joined in the hunt.
Yesterday, Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team leader Iain Nixon said: “He was advised that given the prevailing weather conditions – storm-force winds and snow – that this might not be the best plan; nevertheless he headed off and has yet to return.”
Damon Rodwell of the Border Search and Rescue Unit added: “I’d been running up on the Border Ridge earlier in the day, accompanying the leader in the 268-mile Spine Race for an hour or so.
“The conditions on the ridge were possibly the worst I’ve ever experienced. We were both blown off our feet repeatedly, and driving horizontal snow and hail made it really pretty unpleasant.
“The strength of the gusts bowling in from the West was extraordinary. It’s difficult to convey the severity of the weather and the idea of anyone being up there on a bike, ill-equipped for the weather doesn’t bear thinking about.”
Police made an appeal for the public’s help to trace him yesterday morning. The search was called off for a second night when light faded.