Rescuers at the scene during the operation to find the lost cavers. Photo: Scott Ferris/UWFRA

Rescuers at the scene during the operation to find the lost cavers. Photo: Scott Ferris/UWFRA

A major rescue operation to locate a group of lost cavers in the Yorkshire Dales ended successfully when they were brought to the surface unharmed.

The five cavers were cold but otherwise safe when they were found in the Providence Pot system in upper Wharfedale.

Three rescue teams took part in the operation to find the cavers, aged between 18 and 25, when they were reported overdue from a trip underground about 9.30pm on Saturday, at the site on the slopes of Great Whernside.

North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue and the Yorkshire Ambulance Service joined volunteers from Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association, the Cave Rescue Organisation and Derbyshire Cave Rescue Organisation in the operation near Kettlewell.

Swaledale Mountain Rescue Team members were also put on standby but stood down when the lost cavers were found safe on Sunday.

A UWFRA spokesperson said: “Several parties were sent into the cave system and the lost cavers were eventually located safe but very cold. The casualties were then assisted back out of the entrance.”

A CRO spokesperson said the underground rescue was ‘protracted’. The spokesperson said: “Four members of the party were located at about 6.10am and the fifth about 50 minutes later.

“Their ways out, both forward and back, had been denied them by floodwater. All were in reasonable condition and began a retreat from the system. They were fed and accompanied to the surface, emerging from Providence Pot and all reaching Hag Dyke by 1pm.

“Here, they were assessed by a Yorkshire Ambulance Service paramedic, before being driven down to Kettlewell. They had been underground for about 26 hours.”

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