Mountain rescuers have warned off-road drivers to obey the country code after seven people - including children aged two and four - had to be led to safety following a freezing night on the fells.
Three 4X4 vehicles became bogged down in mud when the weather closed in on a remote hillside in Lancashire. The hapless occupants, all from Preston and Chorley, eventually dialled 999 in the early hours of the morning after realising they were stranded miles from anywhere.
Amazingly they all seemed in good spirits, especially the two toddlers who had probably seen it as a big adventureAndy Binstead
“I gather when they had set off in the afternoon it was sunny and clear,” said Andy Binstead of the Bowland Pennine Mountain Rescue team.
“But it turned cold, wet and horrible and they couldn’t get down. They were stuck tight in an area which wasn’t near any tracks. We can’t stress enough that when you go onto the fells you must always assume the worst and be prepared for conditions to change.”
Rescuers say two of the Land Rover Discoveries had initially gone up Easington Fell north of Clitheroe. The third later went to their assistance after and it too became stuck. By the time the party accepted they were going nowhere and called the police it was 3.30am. Two specially-equipped Mountain Rescue teams were despatched and managed to get within a kilometre of the stranded vehicles.
“Our volunteers had to go the rest of the way by foot and led the party back down to our vehicles,” said Andy Binstead. “From there we took them home. The three vehicles had to be left up there. We don’t rescue vehicles, just people - and, in this case, a pet dog too.
“Amazingly they all seemed in good spirits, especially the two toddlers who had probably seen it as a big adventure. But it was a cold, dark place. As far as off-roaders are concerned there are strict rules and they should always keep to the recognised tracks. It is difficult to understand why these people were where they were.”