A TEENAGER used her army cadet training to save a friend’s life on a walking trip in the Lake District during the summer holidays.
Victoria (Tori) Davies was on a four-day trekking holiday with friends from Chester’s Queen’s School, when one of them tripped whilst crossing a river swollen by torrential rain at Cockermouth.
Tori, Anya Bos, Susannah Burtinshaw, Ellie Rogers and Mary Scott, all 16, were well equipped for their walk between Borrowdale and Ennerdale.
But when the weather took a turn for the worse, Susannah sprained her ankle and was in danger of being swept away to her death.
Tori said: “There were high winds, hail and visibility was down to about five metres.
“We were on our way down and had already crossed some small becks when we reached Loft Beck.”
Anya added: “We had a feeling that we were on the home straight. We could see footprints on the opposite bank so were confident that people had crossed it recently.”
Tori forded the river first, leaving her pack on the other side to help the others across. Susannah crossed next but got her foot caught in a hole and slipped.
“The current was very strong and I was soaked but I managed to cling on to a rock,” she said.
Tori, who lives in Broxton, added: “I grabbed hold of Susie and held on to the rock with my other hand.”
All four girls agreed that Tori was the one who kept a clear head as she shouted instructions to everyone.
“I told Susie: ‘If you don’t listen to my instructions, you won’t survive,” she said.
Tori’s main concern was to get Susie’s bag off her back because of the weight.
“I was quite scared to move in case I lost hold of Susie but I managed to get behind a rock, which protected me from the current, and then drag her on to the rock,” she said.
Tori ensured everyone was safely back on the riverbank before contacting Cumbria Mountain Rescue Team and setting up an emergency shelter.
“Everyone laughed when I packed the shelter but we needed it as we were getting the first phases of hypothermia,” she said.
Squashed under the makeshift shelter, the girls sang songs and ate rations of chocolate, Kendal mint cake and dried fruit while they waited to be rescued.
Mike Park, of Cockermouth Mountain Rescue Team, said: “They had a very mature attitude which unfortunately we don’t always experience from older people, who should know better.
“They recognised that the situation was out of their control and called us out rather than just carrying on and getting into more trouble.”
Mike and his team of volunteer rescuers used ropes to get the girls back over the river before escorting them to Black Sail youth hostel, where they were provided with a hot meal.
Ellie said: “I have deep admiration for those men and women who helped us. Everyone we encountered was so supportive..”
The intrepid band of walkers didn’t return to Chester straight away but undertook a gentle 4km walk on the following day before returning home by train.
The girls plan to raise funds for Cockermouth Mountain Rescue Team during the next year. To donate, visit www.cockermouthmrt.org.uk.