One of the busiest Mountain Rescue Teams in England. 2017 our 53rd year

Man Suffers Fatal Injuries After Falling 150 metres from the Priest's Hole, Dovedale

Priest's Hole, Dove Crag
Grid reference: NY 37600 10900
15/10/2016
At 2200 on Saturday 15th October Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team members were called by Cumbria Police following a 999 call reporting that a 50-year-old man had fallen down the front face of Dove Crag.

The man had planned on spending the night with a group of eight friends in the Priest’s Hole, a shallow overhang, high on Dove Crag.

Given the nature of the incident Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team called for the assistance of a Coastguard Helicopter, ‘Rescue 999’, from Prestwick in Scotland. The helicopter flew direct to the scene and by using its forward looking infra red camera it was able to direct a member of the team directly to casualty’s location within minutes of arriving on scene.

Mike Blakey, Team Leader said: ‘the helicopter was able to direct the Team straight to the man’s location, approximately 50 meters below the bottom of the main crag. The man, who had slipped from the ledge, had fallen approximately 150 metres vertically and had sustained fatal injuries.’

‘The helicopter was unable to get close the scene but provided lighting from a hover position a few hundred metres away from the crag. Rescue 999 then returned to the valley bottom to uplift equipment and members of Penrith MRT who had been called to support us.’

‘Unfortunately, due to the weather conditions the helicopter was then unable assist further and the Team evacuated the man over a large boulder field and then down the valley on a stretcher to a Landrover ambulance.’

‘This kind of evacuation is always complex as it involves belaying the stretcher down the mountainside and team members literally man handling the stretcher over each boulder, through dense bracken and over streams.’

‘We also deployed four Team members to the Priest’s Hole to assist the remaining members of the party back to the safety of our base.’

‘The rescue lasted lasted for seven hours in total, and involved over 25 members of Patterdale, Penrith and Kirkby Stephen Mountain Rescue Teams. The Team were assisted by seven mountain rescue search dog handlers who were en route to assist at the time the man was located.’

‘We had also called for the early assistance of Cumbria Ore Mines Rescue Unit (COMRU) just in case the man had ended up on a ledge below the cave. This area is notoriously difficult for the Team to access as there are no safe locations to attach ropes for a safe lower and COMRU have the ability to place bolts for us if required.’

‘This Priest’s Hole has seen an increase in visitor numbers since the BBC covered its location in a documentary this year. Earlier in the summer a man sustained very serious injuries whilst attempting to access the location one evening and prior to this we were also called to assist a father and son.’

‘This group of friends were very well equipped and prepared for their adventure. However, as a team we are seeing more and more people who are attempting to the locate Priest’s Hole in the dark and without the right equipment. Indeed,