Farmer is rescued after falling into a 60ft deep SINKHOLE
5th March 2021

Farmer is rescued after falling into a 60ft deep SINKHOLE while riding his quad bike near abandoned iron ore mines in Lake District

  • Farmer was riding across field in Stank, south Cumbria when sinkhole appeared
  • Emergency services arrived to find him 60ft below ground still on his quadbike
  • He was pulled to safety by fire and mountain rescue experts and is recovering

A farmer is today recovering in hospital after he and his quadbike were ‘swallowed’ by a 60ft sinkhole near an abandoned iron ore mine in the Lake District.

The man was riding across a field on Bowesfield Farm in Stank, south Cumbria, at midday yesterday when the ground suddenly collapsed beneath him.  

He called for emergency services following the fall, and when fire crew teams arrived they found him still sat on his quadbike nearly 60ft below ground. 

A multi-agency team of fire and mountain rescue teams managed to winch down to him and pull him to safety and he was flown by air ambulance to hospital.  

He suffered chest injuries in the fall, and was today recovering.

The man was riding across a field on Bowesfield Farm in Stank, south Cumbria, at midday yesterday when the ground suddenly collapsed beneath him. Pictured: The sinkhole 

The area in south Cumbria contains a number of early 19th-century disused iron ore mines, making sinkholes an ever-present danger.  

Ian Westall of Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service said: ‘The ground just fell away with the weight of the bike on that particular spot and he was swallowed up into the sinkhole.

‘We peered down and could see the farmer sat up, and we could just make out the outline of his bike under a mound of earth.

‘I’m sure he was in deep shock.’ 

The opening was about 8ft wide at the top but widened below ‘like a wine carafe’, which posed additional risk to rescuers.     

Mr Westall added: ‘You’ve got a lip at the top which went down into a narrow throat.

He called for emergency services following the fall, and when fire crew teams arrived they found him still sat on his quadbike around 60ft below ground. Pictured: The rescue

A multi-agency team of fire and mountain rescue teams managed to winch down to him and pull him to safety and he was flown by air ambulance to hospital

‘Then there was a large bulbous bottom which opened up 33ft in one direction and 13ft in the other.

‘Obviously, with unstable ground and people on the surface unsighted, there was an inherent risk.

‘We had to make sure the rescuers weren’t going to be involved in any further movement or collapse of the ground.

‘So we widened the cordon area and had only those directly involved in the rescue at the scene.’

The iron industry in the Lake District began in the 12th century and was at its peak in the 19th and 20th centuries with mining and iron smelting complexes.

The unidentified farmer suffered chest injuries in the fall, and was today recovering

The industry declined during the mid 20th century because of dwindling ore reserves and cheap foreign imports.

Cumbria Fire And Rescue said the rescue was an ‘excellent multi-agency team effort’.

They said: ‘Earlier today, crews from Barrow and Ulverston attended an incident where an individual had fallen 60ft into a sinkhole in a field whilst riding a quad bike.

‘Alongside our colleagues from Mountain Rescue, we were able to bring the individual to safety using line rescue equipment.

‘An excellent multi-agency team effort.’ 

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