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Team search dogs on Low Fell

The Team

We usually have around 40 members. Most years we recruit a small number of new members who serve a 12 month probationary period and then potentially become full team members attending callouts.

We mainly operate in the Buttermere, Ennerdale, Lorton and Loweswater valley areas, but also cover the area out to the coast of NW Cumbria. If another team needs our help, in the Lakes or further afield, we will send vehicles and members.

We normally attend about 70 incidents a year. You can view our incident statistics page for more information.

We have a headquarters building in Station Road, Cockermouth. The building has space for our four vehicles, a control room, meeting room, training area and drying room. We also have a small base at Gatescarth Farm, Buttermere.

The team was formed in 1953 by local mountaineers to help relieve the workload of Keswick MRT. In the first year there were 6 rescues and the team spent a total of £50 on a rope, 6 karabiners and 2 electric lanterns. You can view our team history page for more information.

Experienced mountaineers can apply to join the team if they live and work in our operating area. We look for fit, fully experienced rock and winter climbers who are available to attend call-outs during work and other times. Successful applicants undergo a twelve month probationary period before being admitted the team's call-out list. You can contact our secretary for more details and an application form.

Winter training in Cairngorms, probing for buried casualty

Operations

Normally the casualty or someone with them will phone 999 and ask for the Police and Mountain Rescue. The police will then txt details to our team leader and deputies who will decide whether to call-out the team. A txt message is sent to team members and the first vehicle leaves the base when sufficient members have arrived.

We are a registered charity relying on voluntary donations. The team members are all unpaid volunteers who give up their time to attend practices and incidents. Please check out our contact page for more details on how you might be able to help us.

We can only drive using blue lights and sirens during a rescue callout or during driver training, and then, only in certain very specific circumstances.

It costs arround £85,000 per year to run the team. A new vehicle costs about £50,000 with all the extra equipment we require. Stretchers, first aid equipment and climbing gear all need to be replaced on a regular basis.

Three team members have search dogs, one of these is fully qualified and will attend search incidents potentially anywhere in Cumbria and sometimes further afield. They are members of Lake District Mountain Rescue Search Dogs .

We have received some unnecessary calls from people using mobile phones on the fells. However, many times a mobile phone has saved valuable time in calling out the team to a serious incident. Used correctly mobile phones can be invaluable and save lives.

Our members are regularly called out to rescue sheep that are stranded on ledges on crags. These rescues can be quite hazardous as the casualty is not always keen to be rescued! We have also been called to rescue dogs, goats, a raven and even a horse that was stuck in boggy ground.