The value of Search and Rescue teams

When does risky mean dangerous? Should you call the Search and Rescue Team?

When I first came to Yorkshire, my initial impression was that it was a great place for walking. However the moors especially didn’t strike me as a risky and dangerous place. So what was all this fuss about Search and Rescue? That’s because I didn’t know much about the terrain, the geology or the weather. I was definitely an ignorant fool but I learnt fast. Thank God, I never had any major troubles out walking but strangely enough the same stretch of a walk has caused me a few scares over the years to the point that once I thought I would have to call out for help. Still it’s one of my favourite places to walk in Yorkshire, I am talking about the Rombalds Moor, crossing Ilkley Moor.

A special place where you shouldn’t forget a hat!

The Twelve Apostles on Ilkley Moor

Ilkley Moor will always remain a special place to me as it was the first hill I walked on in Yorkshire. I don’t live far away from it and any time I want a nice and convenient walk, it’s always my favourite spot. Over the years I got interested in its history and learnt a few anecdotes along the way. The most famous one is of course about the song, On Ilkla Moor Baht ‘at which is a warning really to anyone who does’t think the place can be dangerous – at least if you don’t wear a hat 🙂 Then I heard about a special encounter of a third kind too. In 1987, a retired policeman called Philip Spencer managed to take a picture of an alien and then claim that he was abducted! It’s also a place full of history and mysteries dating back to the Mesolithic and Neolithic period. There are many rock carvings scattered all around the moors, witnesses of a past when people used to live on the hills and not down the valleys – there’s even a little Stonehenge called the Twelve Apostles (see picture).

My own experience of Ilkley Moor

Where to go?

I have now crossed Ilkley Moor quite a few times and it is a place that fascinates me. Just like the bordering Yorkshire Dales National Park,  I think it can be really eery at times especially if the weather is not great. But it’s also gorgeous – read my story about the “Bleak Gorgeous Yorkshire Dales“. The contrast between the industrial urbanised Airedale valley on one side (especially between Shipley and Keighley) and the quaint touristy but yet active Wharfedale valley on the other side (Ilkley) is quite surprising too. Ilkley Moor just sits in between like an abandoned ship in the middle of a bustling harbour. It is just ideal and convenient for a nice refreshing walk but as mentioned I had my fair share of “odd” moments there. The scariest was when I walked from Bingley to Ilkley with a friend of mine and we got caught in such thick fog, we couldn’t see anything around us. I relied on my local knowledge and my O.S. map to get us through. Unfortunately we didn’t have a compass and on several occasions the path just disappeared under our feet. We couldn’t tell if it was a natural opening in the heather or a genuine path. Eventually we managed to reach the reassuring Dales Way Link path which is well laid out and finally made our way safely to Ilkley.

As you can see on the picture above taken during that walk, the visibility was really low and this experience shows that there is always a risk when going out walking. During the winter, I took a few friends with me on the exact same route and the track was really wet and muddy in some parts. We made it though and it wasn’t that bad. However after the walk the snow started to fall and it made me think of the “what if?”. Yes, what if something had turned bad during the walk with my friends? As mentioned I’ve walked this particular route many times and I thought it won’t be a problem doing it again. Well what a surprise it was when I found out that the track had changed! Thankfully it was in a good way, some nice flag stones had been laid down across the moor towards Ilkley making the walk much more pleasant. So what am I complaining about, you will tell me? First of, I should have known. It’s always a risk taking inexperienced people out with you and you should be sure of what lies ahead. Second, you should always know where you are in case you have to describe it to somebody and it’s easier to do if you’ve been there before. It’s all about risk assessment at the end of the day.

Search and Rescue Teams in Yorkshire

Which emergency contacts to call for first?

As I said nothing ever happened to me but to go back to my original question, “should you call the search & rescue team?”, the answer is NO (at least not straight away)! As I understand, if you ever get in trouble, always call 999 or 112 first, then the police and finally the Mountain Rescue. Don’t try to call them first as they are a group of volunteers and will be informed by the relevant authorities if a search & rescue operation is needed. To find out how the call out system works and what the “CHALET” report is, have a look at this document from the Mountain Rescue.

I have listed below all the teams operating within the Yorkshire boundary. They all rely on fundings from donation so if you want to reward their good work, please give generously.

Click on the logo to donate to Mountain Rescue
Map showing the various S&R teams in Yorkshire

North East Search and Rescue Association (NESRA)

The North East Search and Rescue Association covers the North East of England and comprises Cleveland, North of Tyne, Northumberland National Park, Scarborough & Rydale, Swaledale, Teesdale and Weardale and RAF Leeming MRTs Cleveland Mountain Rescue Team. Below are the details of the teams operating in Yorkshire:

Scarborough & Ryedale Mountain and Rescue Team (SRMRT)

Tel: 01723 859188

Swaledale Mountain and Rescue Team (SMRT)justgiving-logo

Tel: 01748 826989

Yorkshire Dales Rescue Panel (YDRP)

There are two disctinct organisations within this panel. CRO, based in Clapham, provides surface and underground search and rescue services in Malhamdale, the Three Peaks area and into Cumbria and Lancashire and the Upper Wharfedale team (UWFRA), based in Grassington, provides those same services in Littondale, Wharfedale, Nidderdale and into West Yorkshire.

Cave Rescue Organisation (CRO)


Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association (UWFRA)

Tel: 01756 760887

Mid-Pennine Search and Rescue Organisation (MPSRO)

The Mid-Pennine Search and Rescue Organisation covers search and rescue in the caves, moors and hills in West Yorkshire, Lancashire and the Pennines, and areas of Greater Manchester and comprises Bolton, Bowland Pennine, Calder Valley, Holme Valley, Rossendale and Pendle teams. CRO also works within the region. Below are the details of the teams operating in Yorkshire

Calder Valley Search and Rescue Team (CVSRT)

Tel: 01422 882579

Holme Valley Mountain and Rescue Team (HVMRT)

Tel: 01484 844572

Peak District Mountain Rescue Organisation (PDMRO)

The Peak District Mountain Rescue Organisation covers Derbyshire and areas of Yorkshire, the surrounding counties and includes the second busiest national park in the world. The seven teams are Buxton, Derby, Edale, Glossop, Kinder, Oldham and Woodhead. Below is the team operating in Yorkshire:

Woodhead Mountain and Rescue Team (WMRT)

Tel: 07795216262
Click on the logo to donate to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance

The Yorkshire Air Ambulance

This Air Ambulance service is vital in helping the local Search & Rescue Teams. Without it there would be no air lifting from remote and barely accessible places in Yorkshire. They fly seven days a week, 365 days a year ! And all this is possible only thanks to donations. So help them as much as you can!

Tel: 01422 237900

Donate to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance here 

Yorkshire S&R Twitter Feed

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