An 80-year-old hiker is reunited with his wife after going missing

Back home! 80-year-old hiker who appeared at press conference after being missing presumed dead for four days is reunited with his ‘angry’ wife

  • Pensioner Harry Harvey went missing in North Yorkshire on Saturday
  • He was found in the moors yesterday by wildlife photographer Annette Pyrah 
  • He finally got home last night and enjoyed a dinner of chicken and vegetables
  • His wife said she ‘felt euphoric to have him home’ and had sleepless nights 

An 80-year-old hiker feared dead when he went missing in the Yorkshire Dales for four days has been reunited with his wife who he said was a ‘bit angry’ when he finally got home.

Pensioner Harry Harvey, described as a ‘competent hiker’, went missing in the Gunnerside area of Richmondshire, North Yorkshire wjen he got separated from a friend on Saturday. 

He said his wife Dorothy, 78, a retired doctor’s receptionist, quickly forgave him when he returned home to their terraced house in Tynemouth, North Shields, last night and the pair enjoyed a heart meal of chicken and vegetables. 

The retired shipyard worker spent three days and three nights camping in the open after getting split off from a fellow walker during a hail storm, and revealed that he had just £21.05 in his pocket.

Pensioner Harry Harvey, described as a ‘competent hiker’, was reported missing in the Gunnerside area of Richmondshire, North Yorkshire, at around 1.30pm on Sunday. He was reunited with his wife Dorothy last night (pictured together)

Forced to use emergency rations including tinned beans as he ‘starved’, he lost his glasses and compass – and at one point he fell off a tree trying to cross a stream, but was able to ‘patch up’ himself and carry on his ‘wild adventure’. 

Mr Harvey was then amazingly found alive by a wildlife photographer near Keld this morning – six miles away from where he got lost – and rang his wife to say he was OK before being rushed to the Tan Hill Inn pub, where a police press conference was being held.

‘I rang my wife when I was found – I didn’t give her chance to get angry with me, I put the phone down before she could be,’ said Mr Harvey yesterday.

Today he added: ‘If the weather had been good I would have really enjoyed myself.

‘I am fine. I had bandaged my head myself but went to Rake Lane Hospital close to where I live when I got back and they did it for me properly.

‘My wife was a bit angry to begin with, but she has forgiven me now. I am happy to be back home safe and well and warm. Why wouldn’t I?

Video shared by the Tan Hill Inn yesterday showed Mr Harvey, 80, stepping out of a Land Rover in the pub carpark, with a bandage across his head, and being embraced by his tearful family

Mr Harvey said his wife Dorothy, 78, a retired doctor’s receptionist, quickly forgave him when he returned home to their terraced house in Tynemouth, North Shields, last night and the pair enjoyed a heart meal of chicken and vegetables

‘We had a nice meal together last night and a breakfast of scrambled egg this morning. I have a huge appetite.

‘I always have supplies of food on me when I go hiking. I had Auntie Bessie’s instant custard, and Uncle Ben’s rice to eat.’

Harry and his friend left Muker on Friday, fully equipped with a tent and food supplies, but they became separated on Saturday and the grandfather’s disappearance was reported to the police the next day.

Mr Harvey is pictured with his wife Dorothy when they were younger

They had planned a hiking and camping trip, aiming to return home on Monday evening.

Dorothy added: ‘The first I knew about it was when I got a call from North Yorkshire Police.

‘It took a few seconds to sink in. I went into shock. He’s very experienced, and had all his gear with him, so I hoped for the best.’

She said she has never had more cups of tea in her life and has sleepless nights worrying about her husband. 

‘But as time went on I became sick with worry. Neighbours were calling in to check I was OK. I don’t think I have drank as many cups of tea in my life,’ she added.

‘I had a sleepless night on Monday, then on Tuesday I got a call. I thought it might be the police telling me the search mission had changed into a recovery mission.

‘But to my delight it was Harry saying, “hello sweetheart”. I burst into tears.

Forced to use emergency rations including tinned beans as he ‘starved’, he lost his glasses and compass – and at one point he fell off a tree trying to cross a stream, but was able to ‘patch up’ himself and carry on his ‘wild adventure’ 

‘I feel euphoric to have him home. We are both so thoroughly grateful to the mountain rescue and police and everyone who helped in the search.’

Video shared by the Tan Hill Inn yesterday showed Mr Harvey stepping out of a Land Rover in the pub car park, with a bandage across his head, and being embraced by his family in an emotional reunion.

More than 60 people were involved in a huge search operation involving mountain rescue teams, police helicopter, specialist search dogs and handlers – Swaledale Mountain Rescue Team, Teesdale and Weardale Mountain Rescue Team, North of Tyne Mountain Rescue, Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue, Cleveland Mountain Rescue, RAF Mountain Rescue and Mountain Rescue Search Dogs England.  

More than 60 people were involved in a huge search operation involving mountain rescue teams, police helicopter, specialist search dogs and handlers

Pensioner Harry Harvey, described as a ‘competent hiker’, was reported missing in the Gunnerside area of Richmondshire, North Yorkshire, at around 1.30pm on Sunday

An ex-ship builder with a passion for the outdoors 

When Harry Harvey, 80, retired from the prestigious shipbuilders Swan Hunter 25 years ago, it left a gaping hole in his day.

With his two children Naomi and Phil all grown up, he took to going out on country walks to escape his quiet home.

But it was in his seventies when the pensioner, from Tynemouth, began walking in earnest along with friends who like to spend every weekend out in the wilds of the north.

‘Unless the weather is really terrible you’ll find me out walking every weekend, either in the Yorkshire Dales or Northumberland closer to home,’ said Harry.

‘I love being in the outdoors, I always have but walking for me has become a real passion and I think it’s kept me fit for my age.

‘I’m always very well prepared with the right equipment, food, waterproofs and the best footwear I can find.

‘In fact my plan is to go out walking this weekend as well, I won’t let all the drama put me off. I’m very grateful for everyone’s concern and the efforts people were putting in to find me, the rescue teams do an amazing job.’

Speaking by a roaring fire yesterday, Mr Harvey, who worked at a Wallsend shipyard, told a press conference he had ‘three grand days’ camping out on the mist-shrouded moors and insisted that he had been in no danger. 

However, he revealed that he had set off to walk through Swaledale with a friend when they became separated in a heavy hail storm, and was forced to use emergency food rations as he ‘starved’. 

Asked how he felt about the ordeal, Mr Harvey said: ‘I didn’t want all this but I had three really good camping nights. I was on my own. I was only worried because I have a hell of an appetite and I was running out of food.

‘I had three grand days of wild camping,’ he said. ‘I never felt scared, I had all the right kit, all the right training and I knew what to do.

‘My biggest problem was I only had £21.05 and I didn’t think that was enough to get back home. I saw a helicopter hovering overhead at one stage but I didn’t realise they were searching for me.’ 

He added: ‘If I had known there had been all this fuss I would have made my own way home. It is not my scene at all to have a fuss. I wasn’t frightened but at one point I used my whistle but no one heard me.

‘The worst point was when I fell crossing a bridge over a stream. It was a tree across a stream with a mink trap on it, I stepped over the trap and went down and banged my head, which I patched up myself. I rang my wife when I was found – I didn’t give her chance to get angry with me, I put the phone down before she could be.’ 

His children, Phil and Naomi, had sat holding each other’s hands while Mr Harvey spoke. When asked about their take on the situation, Phil said: ‘We didn’t experience it the same way he described it. It’s been torture.’ 

Naomi said: ‘You can’t put it in to words. We know he’s experienced in this sort of thing but three nights was taking it to the extreme.’ Asked what it was like seeing him for the first time after so much worry, she said: ‘It was like every Christmas and birthday and everything wrapped into one. It was sheer relief.’

She added said that her father was now ‘grounded’ for putting the family through so much worry. 

Phil said: ‘You’re going to have to have a compass to help find all your gear. I’m going to hide it all.’ Asked what he would be doing now, Mr Harvey said: ‘I’m going to have to go home and face the music.’ 

Mr Harvey was reported missing in the Gunnerside area of Richmondshire, North Yorkshire, at around 1.30pm on Sunday. He was found near Keld this morning, and was driven straight to the nearby Tan Hill Inn pub


Speaking by a roaring fire, Mr Harvey, who worked at a Wallsend shipyard, told a press conference he had ‘three grand days’ camping out on the mist-shrouded moors and insisted that he had been in no danger

Peter Roe, from Swaledale Mountain Rescue Team, said they were ‘not hopeful’ of finding Mr Harvey alive, adding: ‘He had got lost for a couple of days in the mist on the moor then found his way to the road. 

‘He had a bit of a fall but had managed to deal with it himself and was absolutely fine. We could have been walking a few yards from him and we wouldn’t have known – he’s a really nice chap.’

Inspector Mark Gee of North Yorkshire Police said Mr Harvey had been staying at Tan Hill on Friday night with a group and had got separated from the group on Saturday. 

Mr Harvey was walking and looked in good health, though had a plaster on his head. Rescuers heard he had been found minutes before a press conference was due to start when the family were due to appeal for help to find him.

It has now emerged that he had actually been missing since Saturday, meaning he had survived for three days in the open on his own.  

Mr Harvey was found by wildlife photographer Annette Pyrah, who was in the area looking for grouse to photograph. She saw the hiker walking down a track to the road off the moor near Keld and he waved at her.

She had been following the search for Mr Harvey, but she had presumed he had died on the moors.

‘I said to him are you Harry and he said “yes” I said and have you been missing for three days and he said he had.

‘I just started crying, I was just so relieved.

‘I offered him a sandwich but he refused and said he had cooked noodles on a fire that morning and had eaten a banana. He knew exactly where he was and where he was going.’

The photographer called the Tan Hill Inn and told them she had found Mr Harvey and to let people know. 

She then met a mountain rescue paramedic on the road towards the pub and they took him the rest of the way for the reunion with his family.

A spokesperson for the rescue team said yesterday: ‘The team will be out again today searching for Harry in the Tan Hill area. Thanks again to the other Mountain Rescue Teams and Mountain Rescue Search Dogs assisting us.

‘Huge thanks also to local people supporting us with food, shelter and off-road transport, Ghyllfoot Tearoom Gunnerside, Tan Hill Inn, Kings Head, Gunnerside and Gunnerside Estate Gamekeepers.’ 

Mountain rescue teams, who based themselves at the Tan Hill Inn, worked through the night to find Mr Harvey. Local residents and workers were asked to check sheds and barns

Search and rescue teams had launched an urgent hunt to find Mr Harvey after he went missing during a walk on Sunday

A Swaledale Mountain Rescue Team spokesman said: ‘Great news Harry Harvey has been found safe and well. Over 100 mountain rescue members have been involved in the successful search over the last three days. 

‘Thanks also for the substantial support offered by local people.’ 

The team previously said that to search the vast area effectively using search dogs they needed as few scents in the area as possible, so did not ask for public assistance with the searches.  

North Yorkshire Police said yesterday: ‘Harry Harvey has been found safe and well. 

‘He was found by a wildlife photographer who had seen our appeal and noticed Harry waving at her from the direction of Keld.’

Inspector Gee said: ‘This is fantastic news that Harry has been found safe and well. 

‘I want to thank all the search volunteers for their time, as well as gamekeepers, estate owners, farmers and local residents for their help and understanding.

‘Thanks also to the Tan Hill, who looked after the volunteers and Mr Harvey’s family.’ 

When Harry went missing he was wearing a dark jacket and trousers, walking boots and carrying a large dark rucksack containing all of his camping and hiking gear.

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