Green fields highlighted by sunrays through heavy clouds from Curbar Edge

#70People70Years - Dave Torr

Dave Torr outside the Moorland Centre

Dave Torr - leader of Edale Mountain Rescue Team and keen amateur student on the history and archaeology of the Eastern Moors

Dave Torr is team leader of Edale Mountain Rescue Team – and is widely respected for his knowledge of the Peak District's Eastern Moors.

He writes a blog on the history and archaeology of the Eastern Moors and runs a closed Facebook group, "Big Moor Society" which currently has over 460 members. The group covers mainly the area of Big Moor on the eastern edges of the Peak District.

Born in Pitsmoor, Sheffield, Dave was 12 years old when he first discovered the Peak District National Park.

He recalls: "In 1966, my father bought his first car. One of the places we visited was Castleton. For a kid from the slums of Sheffield, it was enlightening to say the least. It set the theme for the rest of my life.

"One day, in the summer of 1968, I was looking at the stretchers displayed on the wall in the old Moorlands centre in Edale. A voice behind me asked what I was up to that day.

"I turned around to see a very tall and slim male. He turned out to be George Garlick, the head ranger and the first team leader of Edale Mountain Rescue Team.

"He offered to take me on his daily walk. We walked over the top of Kinder Scout and around Brown Knoll, returning to Edale via the Chapel Gate track. It was the first time I had walked over Kinder from Edale. Little did I know that, 52 years on, I would become the twelfth team leader of EMRT."

In 1969, Dave became a member of Odin Caving Club and, just three years later, aged 18, he joined the Derbyshire Cave Rescue organisation.

In 2010 He became a trainee member of Edale Mountain Rescue Team.

Dave was appointed team leader in March2020 and, just two weeks later, the first Covid lockdown came into force.

He says: "At first, it all seemed very surreal as our roads suddenly became eerily silent. People were generally sticking to the new rules and not driving to take their exercise in the Peak District. Like other teams in the Peak District, we were very quiet.

"It was a different story when people were allowed to enjoy the outdoors again in August 2020. On one particular and memorable Sunday, we were overrun with requests from the police and ambulance services for our help.

"Six callouts, one after the other with no rest to regroup, our resources left us struggling to keep up with the equipment and the need to decontaminate it.

“It was soon apparent that we had to invest in extra emergency equipment to give us the amount of spares that we now needed. We invested approximately £12,000 to buy extra equipment, just for the pandemic.

“2020 became a record year for many teams within England and Wales, including ourselves. We received a total of 158 requests for our services as opposed to an average of 125.

"We are all obviously big outdoor enthusiasts and understand that people want to get out into the outdoors to relax and exercise. We all recognise not only the physical benefits but also the mental health benefits that being outdoors brings. We urge everyone new to the outdoors (as we all were at one time) to try and wear sensible footwear, carry spare warm and waterproof clothing, a torch and a spare, plus batteries.

"There are lots of ways of learning the basics of navigation within the online world that we live in. If you do rely on your phone, please carry a power pack. Most of our lost walkers get in that predicament because of power failure on their phones.

"Always plan your walks within the limits of the weakest member of your party, and remember that children tend to get tired very quickly."

In addition to his outdoor interests - which include caving, climbing, walking, fell running and mountain biking - Dave taught Jujitsu for 20 years as a 4th dan.

In recent years, he has also become a keen student of the history and archaeology of the Eastern Moors.

Dave explains: "My interest in the Eastern Moors started around eight years ago when Monty, my first Border Terrier, came into my life. Living just three miles away from Big Moor, it seemed a perfect place to explore.

"With my lifetime interest in local history, it was inevitable that my curiosity turned to the history and archaeology of the area. One of my outdoor heroes is George Herbert Bridges Ward - more commonly known as Bert Ward.

"Bert moved from Sheffield to live a couple of miles from where I now live. He started the Sheffield Clarion Ramblers Club in 1900 and was one of the first to trespass across Kinder Scout. He and 14 others met at Sheffield Midland station in 1900 and travelled to Edale to do a round of Kinder. He was a massive influence and fighter for the right to roam our moors, long before Benny Rothman.

"This interest led me to write a blog about the Easter Moors because, like Bert, I realised the importance of documenting things for future generations. A lot of the information is available in multiple sources and I wanted to bring it all together in a blog for all to have access to the interesting facts of our local moors.

"It is a very special landscape, which is documented from the neolithic farmers with stone circles and a plethora of burial cairns, right through to troops practising on the moors through both World Wars before they went on operations.

"The wildlife is extraordinary, with over two hundred Red deer making their home there amongst the adders, lizards, insects and fascinating plant life. It is a welcome oasis of calm through all the rush and pressures of these unprecedented times."

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