Ashburton team members return to Postbridge after the lost walkers had been located. Photo: DSR Ashburton

Ashburton team members return to Postbridge after the lost walkers had been located. Photo: DSR Ashburton

A major search on Dartmoor lasting more than 13 hours was called off when rescuers learnt the two lost walkers at the centre of the operation had been picked up from a bus station.

Four teams, two helicopters and members of the emergency services were involved in the search.

Dartmoor Search and Rescue Ashburton was called out on Saturday morning along with the Plymouth-based team, to continue the operation that began the previous evening with colleagues from Dartmoor Search and Rescue Teams from Tavistock and Okehampton.

The two walkers set off for a camping trip on Thursday from Burrator in the West of the Dartmoor national park, heading towards Okehampton via Postbridge. They reported themselves lost on the northern reaches of Dartmoor.

The Ashburton team said two phone conversations with them indicated they were possibly in the Rough Tor or Cut Hill area and that they were wet and borderline hypothermic. A team spokesperson said: “However, no further communication had been possible after 9pm on Friday.

“Subsequently, Dartmoor SRT Tavistock and Okehampton were deployed through until the early hours of Saturday, whereupon Ashburton and Plymouth took over to search various parts of the moor to try and find them.

“Shortly after 9am on Saturday, a chance conversation with a farmer who came across a Plymouth team told them his wife had given a lift to two walkers into Tavistock that morning, and he was confident that it was the two we were looking for.

“This was confirmed shortly after 10am when the police were able to contact relatives to learn the walkers were being picked up from Plymouth bus station, both safe and well.”

A spokesperson for Dartmoor Rescue Group, the umbrella body for the four search teams, said: “It would be very helpful if walkers who self-rescue, having raised the alarm, make sure they contact the emergency services at the first opportunity to let them know they are OK, so as to avoid unnecessary efforts being made to locate them.

“We are glad of course to hear they survived their ordeal, which is due in no small part to being well prepared with the right clothing, food and shelter.

“We trust that should they re-attempt their excursion in the future, additional consideration should be given to leaving an intended route card with family members, carrying a GPS device, in addition to a map and compass, so as to pinpoint their location periodically, and establishing a check-in process to advise on progress or issues.”

The overnight search involved Dartmoor Search and Rescue Ashburton; North Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team; Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team – Tavistock; Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team – Plymouth; the St Athan Coastguard helicopter; National Police Air Service helicopter; the South West Ambulance Service hazardous area response team; Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue urban search and rescue team, and officers from Devon and Cornwall Police.

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