Rescue teams are kept busy in drifting snow

Meg, search and rescue dog owned by Pete Farnell, chairman of Calder Valley Search and Rescue, checks out an abandoned Land Rover
Meg, search and rescue dog owned by Pete Farnell, chairman of Calder Valley Search and Rescue, checks out an abandoned Land Rover

Rescuers were pressed into action after waist-high snowdrifts fed by a biting easterly wind caught travellers out and caused misery for stranded upper Calder Valley people.

A couple were trapped in their vehicle for more than 15 hours on the bleak moorland road between Hebden Bridge and Oxenhope before search and rescue teams reached them at dawn on Sunday.

And volunteers were called out on at least two more occasions when people were taken seriously ill at the height of the freak weather.

Pete Farnell, chairman of Calder Valley Search and Rescue, was in a team - which included his three-year-old collie Meg - who trekked for about 90 minutes from the Pecket Well direction to Cock Hill Moor to aid the stranded couple.

Mr Farnell said their vehicle had been spotted by someone who reported the incident to police some time later. “It was seen at lunchtime on Saturday but the police did not get a call to investigate until the early hours of Sunday,” he said.

The police helicopter’s heat-seeking equipment established people were in the vehicle but, as it could not land, officers called the search and rescue volunteers shortly before 3am on Sunday.

Two teams set off to help - one from Pecket Well, the other from Oxenhope - with the Oxenhope team reaching the stranded couple first.

Mr Farnell said: “They were OK, but cold. They felt they were safer in the vehicle but were happy to walk off in our company. They couldn’t call anyone because there is no mobile telephone signal up there.”

Other incidents included an RAF Sea King helicopter from Leconfield being called in to transport a seriously ill man to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary from a Walsden farmhouse on Saturday evening and a young child taken ill in Todmorden.

The rescue team’s 4x4 was used to transport a senior medic from Norland, near Halifax, to the Huddersfield hospital. “We have been almost non stop,” Mr Farnell said.