Drone Pilot JobsDrone pilot breaks ankle during incredible rescue mission to save trapped sheepdog in Snowdonia

July 26, 2021by helo-10

A drone pilot suffered a broken ankle while playing their part in an incredible rescue mission to save a sheepdog who fell into a ravine.

The North Wales team from Drone SAR for Lost Dogs UK helped to rescue Bess, a 12-year-old Border Collie from Glyder Fawr in Snowdonia on Sunday.

Bess went missing last week while rounding up sheep on the mountain on Wednesday morning.

After bringing the herd down to her owner, John Griffith, who is a farmer in Snowdonia, Bess then circled back up, presumably to find any sheep that may have gotten stuck, and ended up falling.

John’s daughter, Awen Elen Griffith, posted on the Drone SAR Facebook group asking for help.

Nia Wynn, the team leader for the North Wales segment of the group led drones to scout the area, although the terrain sheltered by trees and ferns made it difficult to spot anything.

A search party of volunteer drone pilots and ground searchers ventured up Glyder Fawr in search of Bess.

Nia said: “We met up at half nine in the morning (Sunday). The drones went up and we started on foot. It was boiling hot.”

Fairly early in the search Nia’s partner, drone pilot Graham Watkins, fell down the mountain and broke two bones in his ankle and was taken to A&E following the ordeal and is now resting and recovering.

Glyder Fawr, in Snowdonia

John Griffith, Bess’ owner, joined drone pilot Matt Ryan at the front of the search party.

The team advised John to call for Bess as if he was commanding her back from a round up.

Nia said: “The next thing we heard was wailing, howling and crying. Everyone was saying, ‘She’s there! She’s up there!’ But looking at where the sound was coming from it was treacherous, literally on the face of a mountain. I thought there wasn’t a chance.”

Bess the dog trapped in a ravine
Bess was trapped in the steep ravine

Glyder Fawr stands at just over 1,000 metres high making it a dangerous mission for all involved.

Members of the team scrambled up the mountain face following the cries of Bess but were separated, and with no phone signal, lost contact.

Nia said, “They were like a pair of mountain goats. They moved so quickly!”

Thankfully, shouts of “we’ve got her!” eventually came and passed from mouth to mouth by ground searchers interspersed down the mountain.

John saving his dog Bess from a steep ravine
John eventually scooped Bess out of the ravine on Gylder Fawr

Bess who had hurt her left leg during her fall was carried back down via a safer route, because the drop below the ravine which they had originally climbed was so dangerous and she enjoyed all the fuss upon her safe return.

John said: “I’m relieved to get her back. Her tail didn’t stop wagging as soon as she saw me. We were lucky she got stuck by the waterfall so she had a stream of water which kept her going. I would like to thank all the people involved.”

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Graham Burton, the founder of Drone SAR for Lost Dogs UK, said, “It was an amazing rescue. When you help somebody reunite with their missing dog, you think – this is it, this is why we do it. It’s what makes it all worthwhile.”

Bess has since had a check up with the vet and is back home and enjoying the beginning of her much welcomed retirement.

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