Mr Ryan fell from the Priest's Hole on Dove Crag. Photo: Mick Garratt CC-BY-SA-2.0

Mr Ryan fell from the Priest's Hole on Dove Crag. Photo: Mick Garratt CC-BY-SA-2.0

The family of the man who fell to his death on a Lake District mountain have revealed details of the incident.

Kevin Ryan’s relations also paid tribute to the 50-year-old, who was with a group camping in the Priest’s Hole cave when he slipped and fell 500ft.

The Cleethorpes sports massage therapist had made the journey to Dove Crag to spend the night in the cave, made popular after it was featured in BBC One’s Secret Britain series.

Rescuers said he had fallen 150m down the face of the crag on Saturday night.

Mr Ryan’s family said in a statement: “Unfortunately, Kev passed away in a tragic accident.

“The entire group of nine arrived together at the cave at 2pm, the weather was overcast with no rain or wind. The group watched the sunset as it rained over Patterdale but the rain did not reach them.

“The group had a small fire and set down for bed at approximately 9pm when it had nearly burnt out. Kev got up and tragically lost his footing and fell off the edge.

“The family and the group would like to reiterate that Kev and several members of the group were very experienced and all were very well equipped. What happened was a tragic accident.

“Kev was an inspiration to us all; he never sat down, if he wasn’t on an adventure travelling the world or every corner of the UK he would be playing any sport, anyone would play with him.

“He loved climbing, mountain biking, road biking, scuba diving and squash. At 50 he took up two new sports by joining a local kayak club and also signed up for a boxing match to raise money for charity.

“Even with all this he found time to help anyone that asked or likely didn’t, and he could be found doing all sorts of odd jobs for a cuppa or beer.

“We would all like to thank the mountain rescue team for their continued help. Their actions on the mountain and the empathy they have shown is tribute to the amazing job they do.”

The Priest's Hole on Dove Crag featured in the BBC programme. Photo: Mick Garratt CC-BY-SA-2.0

The Priest's Hole on Dove Crag featured in the BBC programme. Photo: Mick Garratt CC-BY-SA-2.0

The seven-hour rescue to reach the fallen man and his eight companions involved three rescue teams, search dogs and a Coastguard helicopter.

Mike Blakey of the Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team said the rescue involved more than 25 members of Patterdale, Penrith and Kirkby Stephen Mountain Rescue Teams. Seven mountain rescue search dog handlers who were on their way to help at the time the man was found also joined the operation.

The Coastguard search and rescue helicopter from Prestwick in Ayrshire also flew to the site.

The Patterdale team had called for the early assistance of Cumbria Ore Mines Rescue Unit in case the man had ended up on a ledge below the cave. Mr Blakey said: “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.”

Mr Blakey said the group of friends were very well equipped and prepared for their adventure but many attempting to find the cave were not.

Earlier in the summer a man sustained very serious injuries whilst attempting to reach the cave one evening and the team was also called to help a father and son.

“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,” he said.

“During this rescue at about 11pm we came across three men who had been searching for the cave for a couple of hours. We really would like to remind people that the cave is on the front face of a vertical cliff, and it is only accessible by one route.

“It is always best to plan to stay in good weather and to arrive in daylight. An Ordnance Survey map and good navigations skills are prerequisites.”

Mr Ryan’s family added it would not be releasing any further statements.

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