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Callouts 2019

DSRT Administrator

DSRT Administrator

Thursday, 08 August 2019 17:32

Families caught out by sudden Dartmoor mist

Families caught out by sudden Dartmoor mist

Callout 22/2019 -  Houndtor, 14:40 8th August 2019

Houndtor is a very popular destination for visitors to Dartmoor National Park and for good reason. It's a short distance from the road, is one of the moors more spectacular tors, has spectacular views across to Haytor and is home to the Houndtor Medieval Village which is well worth a visit by itself.
Houndtor Medieval Village in Dartmoor National Park
Houndtor Medieval Village. Photo credit: Al Pewsey
However the attraction of the area can cause problems for those unfamiliar with the terrain especially when the weather draws in.
On Thursday afternoon visitors to the area were enjoying all Dartmoor has to offer when the weather deteriorated reducing visibility to just metres. This caused a problem for 2 families who realised they had no idea how to get back to their car in the mist.
We were called by the Police and one of our members who happened to be close by at the time diverted his journey to the area on receiving the callout alert.

Dartmoor Rescue members joined Devon and Cornwall Police on site

He met the Police on site - one of the Police Officers happens to also be a team member - to find that the original callout for one family had turned out to be a call for two separate groups!
Our Search manager had already issued a 'SARloc' request to gain the exact location for both groups. (read more about SARloc here).
Our team member / Police Officer had already left to pick up one group near the tor itself whilst our second team member went to locate the second lady and her child who were at the Medieval Village.
The rather damp lady and her son were located at the medieval village. They’d been out having a look around and the mist descended and caught them out, so they were walked back to the carpark and handed over to the Police who had by now returned with the second group, Needless to say both groups were none the worse for their ordeal but had learnt a lot about the Dartmoor weather.
Not only was this a coincidence with two calls at once but also happened to be in the exact locations we were training in the night before.
Thursday, 01 August 2019 13:40

Rescuers distribute adventure advice

Rescuers distribute adventure advice

Dartmoor Search and Rescue Ashburton in conjunction with Mountain Rescue England and Wales (MREW) is celebrating the distribution of the latest edition of its safety advice leaflet for walkers, climbers and cyclists. Since the first edition in 2017, more than 50,000 of these simple leaflets have been handed out across England and Wales and the latest edition focuses on making a good day better by planning adventures before you set out. 

Planning ahead not only keeps people safe but should also help to reduce the number of call outs for volunteer rescue teams.
Planning ahead not only keeps people safe but should also help to reduce the number of callouts for volunteer rescue teams.

“The idea for a leaflet was initially developed in Cumbria by the regional organisation there, the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association or LDSAMRA for short,” says MREW’s Vice Chair and Operations Lead, Mike Margeson.

“When that proved really useful, MREW created a national version and this has gone through a number of versions, each one building on latest experience and changes in the outdoor world.” 

The focus on planning and preparation is consistent with #BeAdventureSmart, a national campaign involving a wide range of outdoors organisations, including MREW and particularly the Mountain Rescue teams on Dartmoor, the Lake District and other National Park areas.

 Dartmoor Search and Rescue Ashburton Team Leader Keith Lambeth said about this campaign: “It’s all about encouraging people to enjoy the moorlands and mountains by planning and being prepared, and making a good day better.”

 “The focus of the advice is three simple questions about the right gear, an awareness of the weather forecast and having the knowledge and skills for the day ahead. If we can just get people to think about these things before they set off, people can keep themselves safe and we can reduce the number of avoidable callouts that are putting our voluntary service under growing pressure.”

Be Adventure Smart

Printing of the leaflets has always been sponsored by outdoor publishers, Cicerone. “Supporting charities directly associated with mountain activities is a vital part of our role as responsible guidebook publishers and we are delighted to continue to sponsor this mountain safety information leaflet,” says Lesley Williams, co-owner of Cicerone. “We know that a lot of those heading off into the hills use our guidebooks and we have published information books on skills such as navigation too. Printing and publishing is our area of expertise and it’s good to use that and play a positive role in supporting Mountain Rescue.”

If you know of a way of getting copies of the latest leaflet into the hands of even more people who are heading for the hills, please contact Dartmoor Search and Rescue Ashburton via the website at or via social media.

Callout 21/2019 -  Starcross,  26th July 2019

Dartmoor Search and Rescue Ashburton incident control vehicle and Police car on site at Starcross callout


The team doesn't just cover rescues on Dartmoor, but also assists Devon and Cornwall Police with missing person inquiries across the force area. A prime example being when the team were called out at 21:27 on Friday 26th July to assist the Police with a search for a male in the Starcross area who had been missing for over 24 hours. 

Multiple agencies were involved with our team volunteers working alongside 2 Mountain Rescue search dogs, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue USAR, North Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team and the Police helicopter.

Just after midnight the gentleman was found towards the end of Dawlish Warren by one of the search dogs. 

After a check over by our casualty carers and Police officers, the gentleman was walked back to a vehicle to be taken home and reunited with his partner.

A good outcome. Team members were stood down around 1am and returned home to bed. 

Standby 5/2019 -  Holwell Tor, 28th July 2019

Back to Dartmoor and on Sunday afternoon the team were placed on standby to assist South West Ambulance Service with the evacuation of an injured walker near Holwell Tor. Fortunately, the ambulance service were able to assist the walker with the help of their HART team and we were stood down.

Sad outcome to search for elderly man outside Exeter

Callout 16, 17, 18  and 20 /2019 -  Hannaford Farm, Kennford,  27th, 28th, 29th and 30th June 2019

Dartmoor Rescue Ashburton volunteers searching farmland on the edge of Haldon forest near Exeter

A large scale search involving multiple agencies and resources during the hottest week of the year was launched to look for a 75 year old male who had gone missing from his isolated home on the edge of Haldon forest sometime between 9pm on the 26th June and 08:00am on the 27th.

We, along with our colleagues at N Dartmoor SaR and MR Search Dog Association, assisted the Police and other full-time emergency service agencies including Devon and Somerset fire and Rescue Urban SaR team and the Police helicopter. Search teams were deployed around the gentleman's home stretching in a radius of 1Km in an effort to locate him. 

In the early hours of Sunday the 30th of June following 3 days or searching and after our members had been stood down, 'groans' were thought to have been heard in a particularly difficult to access woodland on the edge of Haldon Forest. Whilst investigating a Police dog handler had unfortunately broken his ankle and so the Police focused turned towards recovering him and our volunteers were called out again to investigate. After a short search, one of our teams discovered a cow trapped at the edge of the woods in a distressed state and probably accounted for the the sounds heard by the Police earlier. A professional decision was made to, unfortunately, destroy the animal as attempting to recover it was difficult and would have caused the animal additional distress. A vet was called and the team were stood down around 03:15.

With no information or clues to his whereabouts and all allocated areas searched at least once, the Mountain Rescue involvement in the search was withdrawn on the Sunday. Police investigations however continued and on the evening of the 8th July, his body was located outside the area covered by the MR teams approximately 1.6Km from his home. His death is not being treated as suspicious.

We spent a huge amount of time deployed on this search and we are very sad that we were unable to locate him. Our thoughts and condolences are very much with his family at this time.

Callout 19/2019 -  Sowton village, Exeter 22:04 29th June 2019

In between the callouts at Kennford, we again alongside our N Dartmoor colleagues were asked to assist in a search for a vulnerable male who had gone missing around the Sowton village area of Exeter. Members deployed for water searches and were stood down after the missing person was located by Police officers.

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