Six-hour search in Northumberland for walker who wasn't missing

The mountain-rescue team in the College Valley.
The mountain-rescue team in the College Valley.

Mountain-rescue teams were called out twice in north Northumberland earlier this month after a walker was reported missing and to help an injured hiker.

Just before noon on December 10, the Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team and North of Tyne Mountain Rescue Team were deployed to the College Valley.

The mountain-rescue team in the College Valley.

The mountain-rescue team in the College Valley.

A relative of a Polish walker in his 40s reported to police that they had been tracking the walker's phone and indicated that the phone ping had remained in the same location for 24 hours, causing them to become concerned for the walker’s welfare.

A hasty party of local Mountain Rescue members, two Mountain Rescue vehicles and the National Police Air Support (NPAS) travelled to the College Valley, while other team members were initially placed on standby before being deployed to RV in Wooler. Border Search & Rescue Unit (BSARU) were also placed on standby.

Low cloud over the summits meant that the police helicopter could not reach the phone-ping location and consequently the Teams’ assistance would be required. As the incident progressed, it became apparent that the missing Polish walker had more than likely spent the night at the Mounthooly bunkhouse and had left in the morning, fit and well. Once this information was confirmed, the majority of the team members were stood down.

The hasty party, at the request of the police, then undertook a limited search in and around the location of the phone ping on the northerly slope of Auchope Cairn, just below the summit. After a search of the lower to mid-section of the Hen Hole and the route from Auchope shelter to Auchope Cairn had been conducted, with nothing found, the party headed back to the Mountain Rescue Landrover in the valley.

Soon after it was confirmed that the walker had safely returned to Mounthooly having walked to Windy Gyle and back, totally oblivious about what had been going on. While the walker was never actually missing, the incident was as a result of a well-meaning relative who was concerned for their welfare.

The incident involved eight team members for six-and-a-half hours. Another 16 members were en-route to Wooler when they were stood down.

Later that week, at 3.40pm on December 12, a group of nine, well-equipped walkers requested the assistance of Mountain Rescue when one of their party, a female in her early 70s, sustained an ankle injury. The group at the time of reporting the incident to Northumbria Police was near Ravens Heugh close to Simonside.

A team from the Rothbury area was deployed in a 4x4 vehicle. At the same time, the group continued with their self-rescue, making progress towards Simonside. The group was met by the Mountain Rescue members as they reached a drive-able track.

The injured walker was assessed by a medic before being warmed and then evacuated in the 4x4 vehicle. The other members of the party were also transported off the hill with the assistance of the police. One of the doctors from the Rothbury Practice assisted by checking over the injured walker

once she had been safely evacuated from the hill. The incident involved six team members for two hours.