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Walker from Billington died in 600ft Lake District plunge
A WALKER died after falling 600ft from a notorious mountain trail in the Lake District.
Ribble valley man Martin Peel was enjoying a mini-break with two friends when he lost his footing in Walkers Gully, Ennerdale.
The 35-year-old had been trying to make his way from Pillar Mountain to Pillar Rock when he slipped on a patch of ice.
The Cockermouth Mountain Rescue Team, the North West Air Ambulance and an RAF Sea King helicopter were scrambled to help the Booths supermarket workerbut he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Neighbours yesterday paid tribute to Mr Peel, who lived with his wife Theresa and two children in Billington.
One said: “He was such a gentle man, you couldn’t wish for a nicer neighbour. He was a wonderful person who had time for everyone.
"I couldn’t believe it when I found out, it has shocked me how someone like that could be taken so young.
“Nobody had a bad word to say about him, they were such a lovely family.”
Cumbria Police praised the rescue operation which took place in what were described as ‘difficult’ conditions and terrain.
Mike Parks, team leader of Cockermouth Mountain Rescue Team, said: “We got a call around 2pm on Monday saying that a walker had slipped and fallen whilst trying to descend Pillar Mountain in the direction of Pillar Rock.
“We knew from experience that there would be lots of patches of snow and ice and that the turf on the mountain would be completely frozen.
“Without the correct equipment and the use of ice axes and shoe spikes the gully would have been very dangerous.
“The gully has been named Walkers Gully after a man plunged to his death hundreds of years ago.
“As I got the call I alerted the Great North Air Ambulance and the RAF Sea King for back up.
“I met the Air Ambulance at the foot of the mountain with our team doctor and got dropped off in Walker’s Gully where we met one of Mr Peel’s friends.
“We walked just a short way when we discovered evidence of clothing that belong to the casualty.
“I managed to climb down to him where it became apparent he had died.”
More than 20 members of Cockermouth Mountain Rescue team were called out to help the group, who were all from the Ribble Valley area.
Once Mr Peel was located the search was expanded to a missing member of his party, who had phoned in the accident and tried to climb to safety.
Mr Parks said: “After locating two of the party we made it our priority to find the third male.
“Luckily within an hour we managed to find him after he had climbed further up and joined another party.”
Pillar Rock is around a 1,000ft high in a very remote location in the Lake District.
Due to the rough terrain the helicopter was unable to land and recover Mr Peel’s body.
Dedicated members of the mountain rescue team climbed down the gully and rigged up a rope pulley system to transport the body out.
A nine hour rescue mission took place at the same spot in September last year, when a female walker suffered ankle injuries while attempting to complete a solo walk.
Mountain rescue chiefs are now urging walkers to be prepared for the treacherous conditions on the mountains.
Mr Parks said: “My advice to anyone who is considering heading out on a walk in the Lake District is to make sure you are prepared for all conditions.
“People need to be cautious and make sure they are carrying ice axes and shoe spikes, as just one slip in inappropriate footwear can be devastating.
“On a quiet Monday afternoon, at the same time as Mr Peel fell, mountain rescue teams were searching for six members of the public assumed missing or injured in the Lake District.
“People must now start taking extra care.”
A Cumbria Police spokesman said:“The Cockermouth MRT, RAF Sea King and Air Ambulance were all involved in the rescue. Despite the attendance of the emergency services, Mr Peel tragically died.
“There are currently no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death and the case will be passed to the coroner.”
- Add your tributes to Martin Peel in the comments section below.