Rescuers were called out shortly before midnight to search for the missing cavers. Photo: UWFRA

Rescuers were called out shortly before midnight to search for the missing cavers. Photo: UWFRA

Two cavers were rescued from a system in the Yorkshire Dales after spending 24 hours underground.

Members of Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association were called out to the incident as their celebrations marking the team’s 70th anniversary were drawing to a close on Thursday.

North Yorkshire Police had been alerted that the pair had failed to surface from a trip down Dowber Gill Passage on the slopes of Great Whernside near Kettlewell.

A team spokesperson said: “The passage is a mile-long vertical rift that links Providence Pot to Dow Cave and normally takes around six 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.”

Upper Wharfedale team members were joined in the operation by the Cave Rescue Organisation. Photo: UWFRA

Upper Wharfedale team members were joined in the operation by the Cave Rescue Organisation. Photo: UWFRA

As dawn broke, the Upper Wharfedale team called in help from the neighbouring Cave Rescue Organisation, as some of its own members had to head off to their day jobs. Extra UWFRA members were also drafted in to help in the protracted operation to bring the cavers safely to the surface.

The spokesperson said: “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 11.15am and the second at 1.20pm, 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 and 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.”

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