THE mother of a former Pendle man, who is missing in Scotland, says his family can’t put into words how they feel.
Grant Cunliffe (49), who now lives in Long Preston with his wife and two daughters, was last seen on the morning of Thursday, January 19th, after going hill walking for a couple of days.
However, he was due to contact his family on Saturday but failed to do so and the alarm was raised. A three-day search for Mr Cunliffe was stood down by police around 4 p.m. on Tuesday after finding no trace of him.
His mother, Christine Edwards, said he headed south from Aviemore last Wednesday on a 23-mile walk into Corrour Bothy, a mountain refuge in the Lairig Ghru pass.
The last his family heard from him was when he phoned on Thursday morning from the refuge to say he would probably be out of range for a couple of days.
About 180 rescue personnel were involved in the search from Sunday to Tuesday but were initially hampered by fog.
Search teams included representatives from Northern Constabulary and Grampian Police, Cairngorm and Braemar Mountain Rescue teams with the aid of dogs and the RAF from Kinloss, Leuchars and Lossiemouth.
Mr Cunliffe, who has walked in the Cairngorms several times before, had gone to Scotland to complete part of his training as a Duke of Edinburgh Award assessor.
Christine said: “Grant is missing, presumed dead. The family are devastated. I can’t describe in words how we feel. He was doing something he loved, though - he was driven to climb mountains from a young age.
“He needed to sleep in a snow hole for two days as part of his Duke of Edinburgh work, but there hasn’t been enough snow and they found his helmet and ice-axe in his car. He’s presumably gone off and done his own thing and had an accident.”
Mr Cunliffe, son of the late David Cunliffe who was chairman of Coats Viyella, ran a successful hairdressers in Barnoldswick for 25 years under the name “David Grant Hair Design” after training at Nelson and Colne College.
However, as an experienced walker and climber and having a love of the great outdoors since the age of 11, Mr Cunliffe changed career to become an independent outdoor activities organiser, working as a group leader on specialist trips to destinations such as Kenya, Namibia and Peru.
His wife Linda, who he met at Edge End High School when they were head boy and head girl, and his daughters, Jessica (20) and Olivia (16), travelled home on Wednesday having gone to Aviemore to wait for news.
Mr Cunliffe was due to go on a skiing holiday with his family next month to celebrate his 50th birthday and his daughter’s 21st birthday.