A faithful dog who stayed by his dead master’s body on a Welsh mountainside is to be immortalised in a statue in the Yorkshire Dales
Border collie Ruswarp and his owner Graham Nuttall set out for a fellwalking trip in mid Wales in January 1990. Mr Nuttall, who was a campaigner for the preservation of the Settle-Carlisle railway line, bought a rail ticket from his home in Burnley, Lancashire, to Llandrindod Wells. He was never seen alive again.
Graham Nuttall with Ruswarp
Despite extensive searches by police and mountain rescue teams, no trace of Mr Nuttall or 14-year-old Ruswarp – named after the village near Whitby, and pronounced ‘russup’ – was found.
Missing-person posters were produced by the Friends of the Settle-Carlisle Line and by police in both Lancashire and Dyfed Powys. The case aroused national interest, not least because Ruswarp’s pawprint had been on a petition against closure of the line. He was deemed a fare-paying passenger and likely to suffer hardship if the scenic line closed.
On 7 April 1990, a walker found Mr Nuttall’s body lying by a stream. Ruswarp was with his master, too weak to walk after spending 11 weeks on the Welsh hilltops in winter conditions. He was carried from the mountain by a rescue team and survived only long enough to attend his owner’s funeral.
The RSPCA had awarded the dog its Animal Medallion for vigilance and a plaque for intelligence and courage. The case put the Settle-Carlisle line back in the spotlight and the campaign to save the railway from threatened closure eventually succeeded.
Now, campaigners plan to honour Ruswarp by erecting a statue of him at Garsdale station, which will soon be renovated. The station stands in a remote and commanding position between Dent and the Mallerstang valley. A spokesman for the Friends of the Settle Carlisle Line said: “Network Rail has given approval for the statue to be placed in a prominent location at the refurbished Garsdale, there to add to the history of the place and the line.
“We are commissioning a life-size bronze statue of Ruswarp, to be placed at Garsdale station, under the watchful eye of the signaller.
“Graham Nuttall would have been delighted that the signal box is now operational 24 hours a day, so busy is the line he fought to save.”
The appeal hopes to raise the £8,000 needed for the statue. Details of how to contribute are on the Settle-Carlisle Railway website.