Call from Cumbria Police regarding a report of four missing people, believed to have gone onto Scafell Pike. The group consisted of two adults (in their thirties) and two girls (aged 14 and 16). There was little information regarding their experience or the equipment they might be carrying but their wives had given an intended route which would have taken them from Seathwaite, up Scafell Pike and then back to Seatoller via Glaramara and Thornythwaite Fell. The whole group were staying in a guest house in Ambleside. As much of their intended route (including their start and finish) would be within the Keswick MRT area, the team leader passed the details over to the Keswick MRT, Team Leader and the two Team Leaders jointly worked on the incident from there on. Keswick were able to confirm that the missing person’s vehicle was indeed still parked near Seathwaite and they spoke to the wives, to see if they could get any more useful information before we commenced a search for them. Full call outs of Keswick and Wasdale MRTs were initiated at 0120 hrs and the one remaining search dog handler left in the Lake District (while all the rest were away training in Scotland) was also called in to assist. The two teams jointly covered all the major routes around Scafell Pike and the ridge over to Glaramara and eventually located the missing walkers in Eskdale at around 0700 hrs. They had made a navigational error and become lost. They were tired and cold but otherwise unhurt and were therefore assisted to walk off the mountain, before being given a lift back to where they were staying in Ambleside. Conditions on the summits were quite cold and windy and low cloud was causing very poor visibility, particularly during the night. All parties were re-called off the hill and returned to base by around 0930 hrs, 2001-08-21.
Rescue postscript: The team leader subsequently spoke to the deputy team leader, who’s group were the ones that found the four missing walkers. It seems they stayed on their intended route up to the summit of Scafell Pike but that they then went to Mickledore and descended into Upper Eskdale via the side of the Cam Spout waterfall. From there, they attempted to find Esk Hause, to continue over Glaramara but got lost somewhere. We think they spent the night sheltering in a small sheep fold somewhere on the south side of the Esk/Cam Spout area and on the flanks of Esk Pike. They were not very experienced walkers and had not been well equipped to cope with the enforced bivi. It was perhaps fortunate that they found shelter relatively low down and out of the wind as the tops would have been much more unpleasant. The search dog handler from Ambleside gave them all a lift back from Eskdale, in his car. They did not report hearing any shouts or seeing lights of rescuers.
Incident started at 00:45 and ended at 09:30 making 8.8 hrs in total.