Rescue - Lost on Caudale Moor

Rescue - Lost on Caudale Moor

15/06/13 Two people lost on Lake District's Caudale More rescued
Rescue - Lost on Caudale Moor 

Rescued from Caudale Moor

Two people got lost in low cloud and a storm and are required to be rescued.


It is not possible to say from the brief MR report about which route the couple took, or were heading to when they became lost, or indeed whether they made it to the summit. Nor is it possible to determine the level of experience or equipment carried or even whether they had a map. The following advice makes a number of assumptions, but gives some tips in respect of navigation in poor visibility and sheltering from the extremely poor weather.

Caudale Moor is in the Lake District and its summit stands at 763 metres, and is variously referred to as Caudale Moor or Stony Cover Pike on Ordnance Survey Maps. It is one of the most accessible of the Lakeland hills, as its summit is only just over 300 metres higher than the popular Kirkstone Pass road, which rises to approx 450 metres.


If the rain becomes heavy, you may be better taking shelter for a period of time in a storm shelter, thus reducing your potential to get wet on the inside of your waterproofs. Remember, wet is the enemy of warm, so need to stay dry to prevent a key ingredient for hypothermia

In the event of needing to be rescued, as in the above incident, waiting in a storm shelter will remove people from the harsh external environment, thus preventing heat loss by convection and getting any wetter. Also remember that each member of the group should have their own survival bag, which they could use if separated from the group as well getting into inside a storm shelter if awaiting rescue.

Adequate Food
Easy to overlook, but the incident report does state that the couple were hungry. Always carry emergency food for unforeseen emergency situations, and ensure that you eat sufficiently during the day when compared to the physical exertion of the walk.

There was clearly a navigational issue, so let's look at the location in a bit of detail and see which navigational techniques could be used in that location.

Map of Location
1:50,000 map of location. (Caudale Moor is dual named, the summit being Stoney Cove Pike on Ordnance Survey maps.)

  ©Crown copyright and database rights Ordnance Survey licence number 100054073 2013

Choice of Map

Finding oneself shrouded in cloud or hill fog can be an un-nerving experience for the less experienced, but there is no need to panic, as there may be many navigational techniques available to assist. In this example of the Lake District, the choice of map can make a real difference with respect of the navigational reference points available to use, and specifically I'm referring to field boundaries. Typically, in the Lakes, these are dry stone walls or fences, but can also be a line of trees or ditch separating a field. This is where the 1:25,000 maps come into their own, as they show field boundaries but the 1:50,000 scale maps do not. See map scales.

1:25,000 map of location

   ©Crown copyright and database rights Ordnance Survey licence number 100054073 2013

You may be used to one map scale or the other, so after adjusting your vision for 1:25,000 maps, you'll notice solid thin black lines on the map. These are field boundaries, and there are many of them in the area of Caudale Moor. On the ground, in that vicinity, they are dry stone walls, being excellent navigational aids - line features.

Escape Route

In poor visibility and perhaps lacking confidence in navigation, at appropriate exit from Caudale Moor would be directly south, following the line of the wall to Kirkstone Pass (bottom left of the map). However, if the walkers had only a 1:50,000 map, or no map at all, it would be impossible for them to know of the safe route available to them.

In the route planning stage of a walk, escape routes should be identified.

Navigational References

The following map is annotated with various navigational reference points that could be identified by an average navigator, but in good visibility those with less navigational experience should practice observing features so that the link between map and land features becomes second nature.

  ©Crown copyright and database rights Ordnance Survey licence number 100054073 2013

Navigational Techniques

The following are some of the techniques that could be used to avoid becoming lost, and needing to be rescued.

Land to map bearings - using you compass you can determine the direction in which linear features run. Such features from the above map would be: ridge line, walls, and slope aspects. When compared to the map, you will have a better understanding of you possible location. The same techniques can be used for the direction of a footpath, although you have to be careful if your do that, in case the footpath you're on is not in fact marked on the map.

Distinctive land features - there are many distinctive features in the example, including: small tarn, monument, changes of wall direction and summit cairn. Each of these features give you an opportunity to location the feature on the map, and possible with by a combination of featured, locate yourself.

Escarpments - by taking a rough bearing over an escarpment will allow you to understand your direction relative to the escarpment. For example, if the approximate direction of the escarpment is north relative to your position, then your next task is to examine the map for a north facing escarpment. Care must be taken if there are a number of escarpments in a small area, and in such cases a more accurate bearing may be required.

Contours - the gradient of the land presents a massive clue about your location. Looking to the left of Caudale Moor, there is very steep ground (contours close together), when compared to the ground directly north of the summit which is quite shallow in gradient (contours further apart).

Time taken - understanding the time taken from a given position is a good way to understand the possible distance that you could have travelled from that point in the time since leaving there.

GPS - if horribly lost, obtaining a grid reference from a GPS unit could be a quick resolution to the problem. But never use only a GPS by which to navigate.


External Link

The following is a journal of a walk on Caudale Moor and beyond, which shows some good photos of the dry stone walls and other navigational features.


Logo and link to incident kindly provided by Patterdale MRT. All other information on this page is written by, which is not connected to Patterdale MRT in any way.