Cumbria Crack

Gifted student died during fell running game of “tag” in Lakes


AN inquest has heard how a Cambridge University PhD student tragically died during a fell running game of “tag” on a Lake District peak.

John Grenfell-Shaw was one of around two dozen friends who travelled to the national park last summer. They took part in a series of unofficial running games, including one dubbed “hare and hounds”.

Participants assumed the roles of either hares or hounds – the latter chasing the former in a bid to “tag” them.

An inquest in Cockermouth heard how 25-year-old mathematician Mr Grenfell-Shaw – a fit and “extremely capable runner, scrambler and climber” – was making his sixth visit with a group based at Seatoller, Borrowdale.

In beautiful, sunny weather on the morning of July 5, he was a “hare” followed by a “hound” to Haystacks, Buttermere. He chose to run down a gully on the north side of the fell. A friend’s statement read to the inquest revealed this was “an area that runners are told is very dangerous and should be avoided”.

Mr Grenfell-Shaw was instructed he wouldn’t be followed. Last seen at 11-30am, he was later reported missing when he failed to rejoin the group. There followed a search involving mountain rescuers and his friends, who were left “completely shell-shocked” when his body was located that evening in a gully near Haystacks’ 1,959ft summit.

He died from a traumatic head injury. Senior Cumbria coroner Kally Cheema concluded Mr Grenfell-Shaw, of Bristol, died “as a result of an accident”, the suggestion being he had fallen “a considerable distance”.

At the inquest, his father, Mark, spoke of his son “living life to the full”, describing him as “deeply analytical” and “always deeply calculated”, particularly in his approach to risk.

Friend Pollie Boyle had stated that Mr Grenfell-Shaw was “not an undue risk taker”, adding: “He was a very talented person yet very modest, and would always have gone out of his way to help someone.

“He will be sorely missed.”

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