The pair had been wild camping on an island in the River Dart when heavy overnight rain led to spate conditions, trapping them on a small area of dry land.
There is no mobile or radio signal in the remote location on the edge of Dartmoor but luckily they were spotted by white water kayakers who raised the alarm.
Firefighters rescued the men unharmed on a boat using a rope system across the river with the help of ambulance staff and Dartmoor rangers.
Incident Commander Matt Johnson, of Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Water can be really dangerous and people completely underestimate it. You should treat a swollen river in spate like a cliff. You wouldn’t go right to the edge of a cliff so don’t get too close to a fast-flowing river.”
The campers had walked across the river in quiet conditions the previous day. The Dart is well-known locally to rise rapidly due to sudden changes in weather conditions and there were weather warnings in place due to Storm Francis. In addition, wild camping is not permitted in that area of Dartmoor.
Matt added: “The key is preparation. Check the weather forecast, look out for flood warnings and make sure you are camping in a permitted location before you leave home. If it’s looking bad, postpone your trip to another day. It’s the little things we do before heading out that make the difference.”
The fire service has issued the following advice if you are planning a camping trip:
- Check the weather forecast before you go
- Plan your location
- Inform someone where you are going and the length of time you’ll be away
- Use the What3Words app to tell them where you are
- Think about how you would call for help if you needed to
- Be aware: the weather can rapidly change your plans in a short period of time
- Plan for the unexpected. Think about: “what happens if….?”
Fire crews from Ashburton and Buckfastleigh and a specialist rescue team from Camels Head attended the incident near Aish Tor, about 2km upstream of the Newbridge car park, at 10.20am on 25 August.
The crews travelled to the remote location with the help of a Dartmoor Ranger in a 4x4 vehicle and then on foot. The South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust’s Hazardous Area Response Team also assisted with the rescue.
Crews rescued two people from the River Dart during Storm Francis. They were wild camping and woke to find the river raging around them.
They had no way of calling for help but luckily two kayakers raised the alarm. We rescued the pair with help from ambulance crews and Dartmoor Rangers.
One of the people rescued said "We didn't check the weather forecast and there was no mobile phone signal where we were. That was a mistake. So, we didn't know what weather was coming and there was a storm. We were on an island and the river shot up, like seven feet in an hour. It was insane, the island was shrinking and shrinking. We really are thankful for everything. You always think it can't happen to you but yo can never predict the weather and we paid the price for it."
Stay safe around water, read our safety advice.