Mountain rescue team to launch new fundraising venture

Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association
Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association

The call and rescue team covering Nidderdale and the Harrogate district has created a walking challenge as a new fundraising venture to ensure their survival.

Though formerly supported by funds raised at the Broughton Hall Game Show, the Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association (UWFRA) had to find other options when it was cancelled last year.

The Wharfedale Three Peaks Challenge is the team’s answer to the enduring problem of raising the £40,000 needed every year to continue their voluntary work.

UWFRA member David Dennis said that figure does not even include single major expenses, such as the money required to replace one of the association’s Landrovers or their specialist equipment.

Michele Reason, from Pateley Bridge, who joined the rescue team two years ago, said: “People join the association to save lives, not to rattle tins - fundraising is not what they are there for.

“We have been going for 66 years and our survival is reliant on the generosity of public donations and any events that we can think of.”

Last year a friends of UWFRA group was established to help with fundraising, though it is becoming increasingly difficult to fill the gap left by the Broughton Hall Game Show.

The rising cost of staging the event eventually overcame the amount raised to support the work of the rescue organisation.

But, with its inauguration on Saturday, June 28, it is hoped that the Three Peaks Challenge will prove successful and become an annual fundraising event.

The walk will start and end at Kettlewell Village Hall, but there will be three routes available, catering for different ages and walking abilities.

The Three Peaks Challenge, which has already been listed as an event by the Long Distance Walkers Association, will take walkers over Birks Fell, Buckden Pike, and Great Whernside, covering 22 miles.

Michele said: “We need £40,000 a year and we used to get a third of that from the Broughton Hall Game Show.

“Now, after 33 years, we are having to look at new ideas to raise money and this challenge is ideal.

“We are hoping it is going to be a significant source of income for the association, but it is also a brilliant walk showing off Upper Wharfedale at its best.”

There is also a two peaks event available, covering 13.5 miles, as well as community and family routes following the Dalesway path up the River Wharfe to Starbotton, and returning to Kettlewell on the Paradise walk.

With the walk taking place exactly a week before the Tour de France comes to Harrogate, the rescue team hope to see participants from around the world enjoying the highlights of the area’s countryside.

David said: “The two main routes will take participants past the spot on Buckden Pike where the team rescued WUFRA - the now world famous dog who thankfully made a miraculous recovery.

“He will be at Kettlewell on the day to meet his fans.”

WUFRA - a lurcher-saluki found in a near-death condition - became a publicity icon for Mountain Rescue and the Upper Wharfedale team.

For those taking part in the walk there will be awards and hot food provided by local sponsors, as well as prizes for the school with the highest number of children taking part in the community walk.

Last year the rescue team dealt with an average of one rescue every eight days, with 14 trained volunteers tackling many tough terrains across the Harrogate district on call every day.

The association mainly attend incidents in caves, potholes, mineshafts, and on fells, meaning the people they help cannot be reached by other emergency services.

The team can trace its history back six decades to Grassington, when six local men supported the police in their search for a missing walker.

Since that time the association has continued to flourish but welcomes new members and funding.

Michele said: “Because the team is running the event it is a good exercise for us to help the public realise the dangers of being in the countryside.

“We can also get to know the public more and bring home the message of safety on the fells.”

Routes will be marshalled and parking is available.

Tickets are £10 per person for the two longer routes, £8 for the community route, or £12 for a family ticket.

Anyone wishing to join or support the association can visit