Just as UWFRA’s 70th anniversary was drawing to a close the Team received a call from North Yorkshire Police requesting our assistance in locating a pair of cavers who were overdue from a through trip in Dowbergill passage, near Kettlewell. The passage is a mile long vertical rift that links Providence Pot to Dow Cave and normally takes around 6 hours to traverse and is somewhat tortuous in places. Having spoken to the person reporting the cavers overdue we checked the local parking areas and located their car where it had been left some hours earlier.
A full team callout was instigated just before midnight, and our control vehicle was set up in its usual space in Kettlewell car park. Search teams were deployed and began to search the cave from both ends stopping at predetermined points to report progress to the surface using the Cavelink system.
Just after 4am we received the news that the cavers had been located in a section of tight streamway just beyond the halfway point of the trip, they were tired and cold but otherwise unharmed. The now combined search teams began the difficult task of assisting the cavers back to wider passage.
With dawn breaking it became obvious that things were going to take longer than hoped and with some members having to leave the rescue and head off to their day jobs additional help was going to be needed. A further call out to our own members and a quick call to our neighbouring rescue team the Cave Rescue Organisation soon had the numbers needed to get the caving party back out the way they had come in through Providence Pot. The additional UWFRA members bolstered by the CRO team entered the cave and set off with some food and hot drinks for everyone.
The combined teams assisted the cavers out of the system with the first casualty reaching the surface at 11.15 and the second at 13.20 some 24 hours after they went underground. The UWFRA and CRO teams cleared their equipment from the cave and headed down to Kettlewell where the North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue welfare vehicle was on hand serving hot food and drinks.
The Team would like to thank all those involved in our 70th Birthday ‘bash’ especially the CRO for making up the numbers and NYFRS for the catering.