RNLI lifeguards rescue woman stuck at the bottom of 80ft blowhole at Trevone

Lifeguards News Release

On Monday (26 July) at around 1pm, RNLI lifeguards on Trevone beach were alerted to a woman stuck at the bottom of a large blowhole on the headland to the north of the beach, by an exhausted friend who had managed to scramble out after several attempts at escaping.

Max Wilson, 28, who lives in Copenhagen, was on holiday in Cornwall with his friend Lucy Pattinson, 27, from Devon, when the pair decided to go for a walk and explore the landmark known locally as, Round Hole.

Round hole is a very large blowhole formed by a collapsed sea cave with a depth of just over 24 metres. It is situated on the headland north of Trevone beach and many people visit the impressive landmark by walking along the coast path. After reaching the opening of the blowhole Lucy and Max decided to climb down inside. Lucy said,

‘When we got to the hole we thought; ‘that looks fun, let’s go on an adventure, let’s climb down.’ So Max went down first and I took my bag off at the top and followed down after him. It just didn’t seem that dangerous on the way down, as we were going down we didn’t even look up or think about how we were possibly going to get out.’

There is a cave situated at the bottom of the blowhole which connects to the sea and through to Trevone beach. Lucy continued saying;

‘When we were at the bottom, the cave down there was so beautiful we were just exploring and enjoying the cave and rocks. We sat there for ages just admiring it all.’

After some time in the cave Lucy and Max decided to head back out, but soon realised they were in quite a difficult and dangerous situation. Lucy recalls the moment they realised there wasn’t an easy route out;

‘When we looked at the route we’d come down, it looked almost vertical, I instantly thought, ‘how did we not realise how dangerous this was on the way down?’

Even though the ascent was very steep, Lucy attempted to climb out with some encouragement from Max,

‘I think I climbed at least 8ft, maybe even higher, but the earth was really dry and sandy and it made it difficult to grab hold of. I could feel myself slipping, I tried to grab for some grass but it ripped away and I slid all the way back down the side of the hole. Thank god I remembered to lean forward as there were so many rocks beneath me, but I did cut all my legs as I slid down.’

At that point Lucy was thinking of calling for help, but Max said he was going to try and climb out. The same thing happened to Max and he fell onto his back, lucky not to seriously injure himself. Lucy said,

‘When I was trying to climb out myself I wasn’t really thinking about my safety, but when I watched Max fall it made me realise just how dangerous it was.’

Max then attempted to climb out again, this time getting further up onto a ledge closer to the top. Max sat there for a while as him and Lucy tried to shout for help to passers by. No one heard their calls, so Max made the decision to try and climb the last section which seemed even more precarious.

After an exhausting attempt of over an hour, Max managed to get to the top. They decided he should go to the beach to get the help of the lifeguards. Luckily the weather was bright and sunny, the sea was very calm and the tide was still going out when Max approached the lifeguards for help, letting them know Lucy was still stuck at the bottom of the blowhole.

Trevone RNLI lifeguards radioed the team on neighbouring Harlyn beach to launch the inshore rescue boat (IRB). As the sea was so calm the lifeguards knew they could get to Lucy using the IRB. Lifeguards Jake Dean (helm) and Steve Ducker (crew) launched the IRB and headed towards the sea cave. Lucy managed to climb from the blowhole through the cave and swim over towards Steve, who had gotten out of the IRB to meet her and help her onboard.

They checked Lucy over, who had only sustained minor injuries, but was otherwise unharmed and grateful to be heading back to safety. Once at the beach the lifeguards made sure both casualties were ok and needed no further medical assistance. Lucy finished by saying;

‘I am so grateful to the RNLI lifeguards who came to rescue me, they are legends. I really think we just weren’t aware of the seriousness of the situation we were in at the time, as we were trying to deal with it. Looking back I realise it could have been a very different outcome and I wanted to share my story to raise awareness of the dangers.’

Leon Bennett, Lifeguard Supervisor for Padstow says,

‘Lucy and Max are very lucky to have only come away with minor injuries. The conditions on the day meant the lifeguards were able to assess the situation with the information they had and make an informed decision to use the IRB for the rescue. Over the years there have been some major incidents of people having bad falls in Round Hole.

We urge people to take precautions if visiting the landmark. Do not attempt to climb down it, as this could cause serious injury. If you are visiting the blowhole, stay back a safe distance from the edge and if you are walking a dog near by always have it on a lead.

In any emergency situation on the coast, you should always call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.’

Notes to editors

· Please find attached a video from the moment the lifeguards got Lucy onto the IRB (inshore rescue boat) and back to Trevone beach. Lifeguards Jake Dean as helm and Steve Ducker as crew. Credit: Harlyn RNLI IRB

· Follow the link to see which beaches are currently lifeguarded https://rnli.org/find-my-nearest/beaches-with-lifeguards-on-patrol

· To support the RNLI’s lifesavers, go to: www.rnli.org/donate

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For more information please contact Claire Fitzpatrick-Smith, Media Engagement Placement (south west) on c_fitzpatrick-smith@rnli.org.uk or 07902 975993, or Amy Caldwell, Regional Media Manager on 07920 818807 or Amy_Caldwell@rnli.org.uk. Alternatively, please contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789 or pressoffice@rnli.org.uk.

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Visit Cornwall

The 'Round Hole' on the headland north of Trevone beach

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