Map set on fire by Peak District walkers to aid rescue

Two walkers set fire to their map to aid a rescue by the South Yorkshire Police helicopter after becoming stranded in the Peak District.

Mark Larden, 26, and his girlfriend were stuck on an icy waterfall on Kinder Scout in Derbyshire.

Mr Larden, from Dronfield, rang a friend to raise the alarm and then set fire to a map to attract the attention of the helicopter searching for them.

Mr Larden said: "I thought we weren't going to make it out alive."

The couple were out walking on Kinder Scout in preparation for a charity hike up Snowdon when they got into difficulty earlier this month.

Thermal imaging

Mr Larden rang a friend for advice and asked him to raise the alarm.

"We had to scramble back up the hill. It was pitch black by then."

He added: "It was terrifying. I had to keep my girlfriend calm because it wasn't only getting stuck up there, it was the effects of the cold."

Image caption Mr Larden and his girlfriend were stranded in temperatures of -6C

Mr Larden said he had set fire to the map after it appeared the helicopter was having difficulty locating them.

"The helicopter seemed to be circling everywhere apart from over us.

"I realised they have thermal imaging cameras which would be able to detect us if we set fire to something, so the biggest thing I had was a map, so I set fire to that and it worked."

Mr Larden said: "It didn't hit home until we were back at the base just how lucky we were to be alive."

The couple were taken back to the helicopter's base and treated by paramedics.

Sgt Helen Scothern, head of South Yorkshire Police's air operations unit, said: "The couple were suffering from being exposed to the severe cold but thankfully we were able to reach them and locate them before the consequences, and the weather, became more severe."

Earlier this year the government announced the South Yorkshire Police helicopter would stop running as part of plans to introduce a national air service.

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