The hire shop team with the bikes abandoned on Broad Crag

The hire shop team with the bikes abandoned on Broad Crag

A team from a Windermere cycle-hire company has its retrieved mountain bikes abandoned by a group who got into difficulties on an ill judged ride across England’s highest fells.

The group of six were advised by shop staff against their venture, cycling from Windermere to Wasdale Head via roads and fells, in forecast foul weather.

The cycle shop sent a team up to bring the mountain bikes back down from Broad Crag, the 934m (3,064ft) fell north-east of Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain. The company said it needed to recover the machines for other customers to use.

The cyclists were reported overdue on Wednesday evening when they failed to arrive at their destination. Four mountain rescue teams took part in the search for the missing group.

Richard Warren of Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team said: “Supported by Langdale Ambleside, Keswick and Duddon and Furness MRTs, investigations were made including analysis of mobile phone use, understanding intentions and how the missing group’s day might have developed.

“With very little information to confirm a route and a location to search, team members were sent out in vehicles to search the roads and pubs between Langdale and Wasdale. Searching the fells in storm conditions was not considered appropriate with the lack of information on their route and contact could not be made with their mobile phones.

“Early the following morning groups of team members were mobilised to search various routes on the mountain. However, after a cold, wet and uncomfortable night on high on the mountain, the missing mountain bikers arrived at Wasdale head safe and sound minus their hired bikes. Thanks to all the teams involved through the night and early morning.”

Mr Warren said the mountain bikers had got into difficulties in the dark in storm conditions. The group abandoned their bikes on the summit plateau of Broad Crag, a boulder-strewn area, and walked down to the col between it and Scafell Pike, then down towards Piers Gill, an accident blackspot.

The bikes were later found on a grassy area a short distance from a steep drop into Little Narrowcove. He said: “This outdoor adventure could have ended tragically. If they had gone over the edge of that grassed area, they would have taken a 100m fall into Little Narrowcove.”

They avoided Piers Gill and turned on to the Corridor Route and found a more sheltered site to spend the night before walking down to Wasdale Head in the early morning.

Mr Warren said: “I think it was a very lucky escape for the family. I think lessons were learnt and it’s a classic example of not heeding the advice of the hire company not to go on the fells that day; not to take that route. The outcome could have been extremely serious.

“It was a happy ending, which is great, but there was a lot of learning. It’s always good to have such an outcome.”

Mr Warren also thanked the rescue team volunteers who took part in the search and the RAF Mountain Rescue Service who were put on standby during the incident.

He urged any walkers or mountain bikers planning to take to the Lakeland fells to visit the Adventure Smart website before heading out, for advice on how to plan and keep safe on the mountains.

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