The blue flashing light could be seen before the police car came into sight. James Sampson had reached the village of Coniston and alerted the police in Ambleside via the Black Bull pub’s payphone. A rather round and rosy cheeked constable eased himself out of the car and saw the pale, bewildered faces of the Hikers in front of the YH.
Putting a hand up in a gesture of silence, he ushered the walkers back into the YH, explaining that Mr Sampson had declined to come back to the YH with him and was now safely ensconced in the Black Bull.
With everyone back inside he began by asking exactly what had happened during the evening.
Ben looked around him at the ashen faces and stood up to speak.
“It’s been quite a stressful and emotional couple of days constable and I feel that Mr Sampson may have over reacted in calling you here.”
Ben looked around at the others and got the impression that they agreed with his direction and wanted him to continue.
“I myself have had some rather disturbing personal issues to deal with and some of our group are exhausted having become lost during today’s hike.” The particular hikers involved all nodded their agreement.
The constable raised up his hand again in the now familiar gesture for silence.
“And what of the young lady and man who fell down the hole outside – what about them?”
Ben swallowed hard and nodded quickly. “Yes we need help to get them out – they stumbled and fell into an old disused mine shaft. The lady in question is pregnant and she may have gone into labour.”
“Bloody hell, I’ll chase up the ambulance people” he responded.
The group took him outside and showed him where the unfortunate pair had fallen. The constable called out to Fee but was rewarded with only silence. Ben took the constable to one side and told him he was concerned for the safety of one of the party who’d gone missing, Viv Page. The constable said he’d organise a proper search as soon as he’d dealt with the current situation.
The sirens of the paramedics could soon be heard as they wound their way up from Coniston and a feeling of dread settled over everyone.
As dawn broke the following morning, Fee and her new born son along with Michael the UFO spotter, were safely on their way to Kendal hospital – neither seeming to have suffered too badly for their ordeal. The hikers had been taken to a guest house in Coniston to try and rest up before going back to their respective homes, only Ben remained at the YH. He had joined the search for Viv along with the mountain rescue team but so far no trace of him had been found.
The YH warden, Peter, had been taken directly to the police station in Ambleside to help them with their enquiries into the death of a local woman.
Some weeks later, after some extensive digging in the tunnel into which Fee and Michael had fallen, the skeletal remains of four men were found. Records eventually identified these as the remains of James Richardson, John Richardson, Wilfred Hocking and Robert Vincent who’d died in a mining accident on February 5th 1931. Confusion reigned for some days as the bodies were believed to have been recovered and buried in the local churchyard of St Andrews. An exhumation order was granted and the four coffins were unearthed one cold Friday morning in March. As each of the lids was prised open the coffins revealed their secrets – sheep bones had been placed in the coffins.
The remains of the four men were reburied in the same coffins in the same graves that same Friday.
The YH remained closed for some months, standing empty and silent, save for the smooth ticking of the recently serviced boiler. Of Viv there was still no trace……