Yorkshire mountain walkers rescued from blizzards

POLICE and mountain rescue officers trekked for an hour through driving snow to reach a group of five experienced walkers stranded in blizzard conditions in North Yorkshire.

The group, all men from York, had been trekking along moorland on the edge of Cropton Forest at Snape when they ran into difficulties as a result of the extreme weather conditions.

North Yorkshire police received a phone call around 5.25pm yesterday from one of the walkers who had been separated from his friends at this point.

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A force control room operator advised the man to use his extra clothing, sleeping bag and food supplies to keep warm.

Just before 6pm he was met by the rest of his group who had made their way back.

Due to the extreme weather in the area - where in parts snow had fallen to reach depths of around 4ft - the lack of visibility and a drop in temperature close to minus 8 degrees, all five began to show signs of hypothermia and stress.

The group had intended to spend the night in a moorland shelter and were fully equipped, managing to light a fire and make hot food and drinks while rescuers attempted to reach them.

They were also able to provide officers with an exact grid reference to their location.

After finding they could not get through waist-high snow to reach the walkers, officers from North Yorkshire Police called in the assistance of Scarborough & Ryedale Mountain Rescue Team.

After walking for nearly an hour, rescuers found the stranded party, checked their medical condition and walked them back to vehicles waiting in the car park, where they arrived at 10pm.

None of the walkers were seriously injured.

Superintendent Glyn Payne, head of North Yorkshire Police control rooms, praised the efforts of force control room operators and those on the ground.

He added: "This incident highlights the serious dangers that even the most experienced walkers can get into when the conditions are so extreme.

"The obvious advice is that people should not take such risks in their leisure time, especially when heavy snow and freezing conditions were forecast.

"On the other hand it does prove the importance of being fully equipped for such conditions, because without the extra clothing, sleeping bags and rations taken by these men, the outcome could have been far more serious and even tragic."

North Yorkshire Police warned people to stay away from moorland and dales roads during the coming week as the predicted heavy snow and strong winds could make areas extremely dangerous.