Keswick team members on the fells during the search. Photo: Keswick MRT

Keswick team members on the fells during the search. Photo: Keswick MRT

An ill prepared family group sparked a major search after going missing while mountain biking in foul weather on the Lake District fells.

More than 20 volunteers from four mountain rescue teams were involved in the incident overnight on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The alarm was raised at 9pm when the group of six, including some aged 16, failed to turn up at their planned destination.

The group had hired bikes in Windermere, intending to ride to Wasdale Head to meet other family members.

A spokesperson for Keswick Mountain Rescue Team, one of those called out to aid the search, said: “They did so against the advice of the bike shop owner who highlighted the weather conditions and terrain were unsuitable for the trip.

“They did not give a detailed route plan and had unsuitable clothing for the conditions and took minimal provisions.”

After the mountain bikers were reported overdue, rescuers made repeated attempts to contact them by calling and messaging all six of their mobile phones.

The spokesperson said: “Repeated attempts were also made to locate the party by using the PhoneFind technology used by mountain rescue teams. All with no success.

“Throughout the remainder of the evening the four team leaders from Wasdale, Keswick, Duddon and Furness and Langdale Ambleside teams discussed the incident in detail. The conclusion was, that given no route description, we would be looking for a needle in a haystack and that the party may well not be in the mountains at all.

“As such members from some of the teams drove the roads most likely to have been ridden by a cycle party with no success.”

Members of the RAF Leeming Mountain Rescue Service were also put on standby.

The spokesperson said: “At 1.30am the teams stood down and restarted the search at 7am to be informed by the police at 8.30am that the party had recently arrived at the Wasdale Head Inn after a very cold, wet and unpleasant night out.

“The party explained that they had indeed gone into the mountains from Langdale with a plan to cross via Esk Hause, Sty Head and descend into Wasdale. However they had become lost at Esk Hause. They had pressed on with the bikes as far as the boulder fields of Broad Crag before abandoning the bikes and continuing on to the Corridor Route where they went to ground until first light. They then continued onto the Wasdale Head Inn.”

The incident involved about 25 members of the four teams, with some volunteers in action for 12 hours.

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