A WALKER slipped in a snowstorm and lost his beloved dog in the Lake District fells for almost 24 hours.
But mountain rescuers followed the dog’s paw prints in the snow to find the animal and reunite it with his Warrington owner.
Paul Lawton, aged 47, and his Cocker Spaniel Bonnie were enjoying a walk up to Caudale Head, near Hartsop, on Saturday, when the accident happened.
He plunged 150 metres down the fellside striking rocks as he fell.
“I fell on my backside but twisted round till I was head first, sliding down what felt like a never ending snow shoot,” said Paul, of Morley Street, Fairfield.
He lost his grasp of Bonnie’s lead in the tumble and at the same time lost his compass, dog whistle, poles and crampons.
“I dropped the lead as soon as I fell because I didn’t want to drag the dog down with me,” said Paul, who suffered cuts, bruises and a sore shoulder. “Then I climbed back up which took me 40 minutes.”
Once back at the top, Paul looked for Bonnie but with no luck and returned to the nearby Brotherswater Inn where he was was staying.
He called the Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team who decided to wait until the morning for light and better conditions to start the search for Bonnie.
“I was in tears every time someone asked me how I was,” said Paul. “I was desperate to go out to find her, and went out again to look just before dark but with no success.”
Paul and the Patterdale Rescue Team embarked on their search for Bonnie at 9.30am on Sunday.
After following paw prints in the snow, and just 15 minutes into the search, they found shivering two-year-old Bonnie next to the missing poles and crampons.
Bonnie had a bacon sandwich before a safe journey back to base with Paul, where the reunited pair sat by the pub’s fire and warmed up.
Paul said: “She had to be checked over by the vet before we could go, but she kept pulling to be back with me.
“I didn’t tell my partner Jude what happened until I came home, though strangely she’d had a sixth sense that I’d lost her.
“It was an experience. We’re both very lucky and it’s brought us closer together.”