A MAN had to be winched to safety after getting into difficulty while kayaking near Gilsland.

On Saturday, the North East Ambulance Service requested support from mountain rescue volunteers for an injured person north of Gilsland.

The man had been kayaking with a group of friends on the River Irthing when he got into difficulty. He had managed to get to the shore but was then unable to move.

Volunteers from Northumberland National Park and North of Tyne Mountain Rescue teams responded to the incident, but at that stage the exact location of the casualty was not known. A response to the location App, PhoneFind, wasn’t received as the kayakers were in the valley where mobile reception is notoriously poor.

Local team members were deployed to locate the injured kayaker, while mountain rescue vehicles and other members made their way to the incident rescue point.

Information received from another group of kayakers helped to locate the injured party on the east bank of the Irthing nearly 1km downstream of the Crammel Linn waterfall. The injured kayaker was assessed and treated by a mountain rescue medic prior to the arrival of a hazardous area response team paramedic from the ambulance service.

The man was then winched on board the Maritime and Coastguard Agency Rescue 199 helicopter for a flight to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.

The incident involved 18 mountain rescue team members for six hours.