Sabden woman’s agony as step-son goes missing in Scottish wilderness

Grant Cunliffe has gone missing while walking in the Cairngorms, Scotland (s)
Grant Cunliffe has gone missing while walking in the Cairngorms, Scotland (s)

A SABDEN woman has been left devastated after her stepson went missing while on a walking expedition in Scotland.

Dad-of-two Grant Cunliffe (49) has not been seen since he set off for the Cairngorms on Thursday, January 19th.

Around 180 rescuers spent three days searching for him but on Tuesday the decision was taken to call off the search.

Grant is the stepson of Mrs Tricia Newmark, who is a long-time member of Padiham Inner Wheel and Padiham Rotary Club and is a member of the Sorpotimists. She is also chairman of Sabden Residents’ Association.

Her husband Mr Richard Newmark, chairman of Padiham Rotary Club, said: “Grant is a very experienced climber. He has been doing it since he was 11 years old and he used to go with his dad.

“He is a stickler for having all his equipment and he wouldn’t take any risks. He would hate to think that all that money was spent on searching for him.”

He was believed to have walked into Corrour Bothy in the Larig Ghru pass on Wednesday, January 18th, intending to go hillwalking on the Thursday and Friday before returning home. He was reported missing on Saturday.

Mr Cunliffe, who has walked in the Cairngorms several times before, had gone up to Scotland to complete part of his training as a Duke of Edinburgh Award assessor.

His mother, Mrs Christine Edwards, said: “The official line is he’s missing presumed dead. He needed to sleep in a snow hole for two days, but there wasn’t enough snow as they found his helmet and ice-axe in his car. He’s presumably gone off and done his own thing. The family are devastated.”

An experienced walker and climber, Mr Cunliffe changed his career to work for World Challenge, leading groups on specialist outdoor trips to destinations such as Kenya, Namibia and Peru.

His wife Linda, who he met at Edge End High School in Nelson when they were head boy and head girl together, and his two daughters, Jessica (20) and Olivia (16) were due to travel back home to Skipton this week having gone up to the Aviemore area to wait for news.

Mr Cunliffe, the son of the late Mr David Cunliffe who was chairman of Coats Viyella, also has a successful hairdressers in Barnoldswick, “David Grant Hair Design,” which he ran for 25 years.