THE volunteer Cave Rescue Organisation (CRO) based in Clapham have had a busy start to 2020.

Christmas and New Year saw the team called out on Christmas Day morning to help a fell runner who had slipped on a rocky section of the bridleway onto Ingleborough. The 48 year old woman sustained a possible fracture, a deep cut on one of her knees and a shoulder injury and after being sedated and put into an ‘insulation bag’ was stretchered to a team Land Rover which took her to Ingleton from where she was taken by road ambulance to hospital where she spent the rest of her Christmas Day.

On Saturday, January 11, the team asked for the help of three other mountain rescue teams, including the Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association (UWFRA) at Grassington after four university caving club members got into difficulties during atrocious weather conditions between Large Pot and Rift Pot in the Masongill area, near Ingleton.

Fortunately, water levels eventually dropped enough to allow caving personnel to enter Large Pot and the missing cavers were found safe and well, although they were very cold.

It was described as ‘a substantial rescue operation in challenging conditions involving around 900 volunteer hours’.

Last year was the busiest year yet for the CRO, which has been going since 1935 and which this year celebrates its 85th anniversary.

2019 was also tragically one of the worst years for fatalities, with the team having to deal with six fatalities.

CRO chairman, Sean Whittle, said: “Time after time our volunteer members have left work and family to come to the assistance of those who are injured or in distress.

“It is this selfless dedication to others that the members of the CRO have been doing since 1935. “

He added: “This year we celebrate 85 years of service so to all those members over the past 85 years, thank you.

“Also, an equal thank you for the family and work colleagues that support the members of CRO in what we do. We couldn’t do it without you”.

Over 2019, the team attended a total of 102 call-outs. Members provided assistance to 90 walkers, nine cavers, six fell runners, three climbers and one paraglider pilot.

They also went to the aid of five sheep or lambs, and six dogs, including one caught in fast moving water at Pecca Falls, near Ingleton.

In addition, the team was also called out to help in the search for six men or women described as ‘at risk’.

The incidents covered the whole range of those which we are equipped, prepared for and trained to deal with, said a CRO spokesman.

“Sadly, 2019 also saw one of the highest death tolls the team has had to deal with in a single year, with a total of six fatalities – three involving walkers on the fells, two ‘at risk’ people and a caver. “

Perhaps most notable in 2019 for the sheer amount of time and effort required was a caving incident at Curtain Pot, Fountains Fell, between Malham Tarn and Penyghent.

It was a complicated rescue in a largely unknown cave which sadly resulted in the death of a caver.

“The rescue required assistance from other caving teams Calder Valley, Upper Wharfedale, Swaledale and Cumbria Mines Rescue and was further complicated by having two other calls to the team during the incident – one another caving incident at Easegill in Cumbria and a suspected heart attack at Malham Cove, both of which served to stretch the capabilities of all our volunteers, and demonstrated the ability of our members to cope and work with other organisations in testing conditions,” said the spokesman.

A direct consequence of the day was the decision by the team to invest in a new vehicle for the team fleet – a ‘side by side’ all terrain vehicle (CRO4) capable of carrying personnel and equipment where even the team’s trusty Land Rover Defenders struggle to access.

In use only since mid December, it has already proved its worth at two significant incidents.

The CRO is a charity which relies on the support of donations, including from some of the grateful people it rescues.

It also stages an annual fundraiser, the CRO Challenge, which this year is due to take place on Saturday, May 16.

Walkers and runners can chose to take part in either a 26 mile Ingleborough Marathon or a 12 mile Clapham circuit. Anyone can take part, all they need to do is raise at least £25 in sponsorship for the longer, marathon route, and £15 for the Clapham circuit.

This year’s routes will remain the same as last year, following the success and positive feedback about last year’s event.

Both routes go along footpaths and tracks seldom used, while taking in some of the most attractive areas of the Ribble Valley.

The spokesman said: “The actual routes will be provided at a later date but both will start and finish at Clapham and will both go up Long Lane from Clapham towards Ingleborough. The Clapham Circuit will then veer off to Silber Nick and then go back to Clapham via Wharfe and Austwick.

“The Ingleborough Marathon will track to the summit of Ingleborough, down towards the Hill Inn and then the route will be off the official footpath and on land that the CRO have been given special permission for access only for the event date to Selside.

“ From Selside the route will cross the valley and follow a section of the Ribble Way to Horton-in Ribblesdale, then back to Sulber Nick where it will take the same route back to Clapham as the Clapham Circuit.”

Everyone will receive a medal and a certificate with the time that it took them to complete the event and people can enter alone, as a family, a group or even as a corporate ‘team building’ event.

To find out more about CRO, including how to enter the CRO Challenge, visit the website: