Missing 80-year-old hiker Harry Harvey joked that he had been enjoying “three good nights out wild camping” after being lost in the Yorkshire Dales.
Mr Harvey, from Tynemouth, flagged down a wildlife photographer who was driving near Keld on Tuesday morning, two days after the alarm had been raised when he failed to make a rendezvous in Gunnerside.
The retired production supervisor from the Swan Hunter shipyard in Wallsend was brought to the Tan Hill Inn where members of his family had been due to make a media appeal for help to find him.
After speaking on the phone to wife Dorothy to tell her he was safe, Mr Harvey had an emotional reunion with son Phil and daughter-in-law Naomi at the pub.
Sat in the bar in front of the fire, the hiker told how he had been out walking with a friend and they had camped out on Friday night.
On Saturday, they had set off together heading towards Gunnerside but had become separated in the fog and rain.
At one point, Mr Harvey had fallen off a small bridge over a stream and banged his head. He lost his compass in the fall.
“My biggest problem was I only had £21.05 and I didn’t think that was enough to get back home,” he said.
Mr Harvey said he’d bought some new boots and wanted to go out and test them but son Phil now says his dad is “grounded.”
Naomi said: “He may have had ‘three grand days’ but for us it has been a nightmare.”
Harry said he has used his whistle as a distress call at one point but it had not been heard.
He added: “If I had known there had been all this fuss I would have made my own way home. It is not my scene at all to have a fuss.
“I fell crossing a telegraph poll over a stream which had a mink trap on it —I stepped over the trap and went down.
“I rang my wife when I was found – I didn’t give her chance to get angry with me, I put the phone down before she could be.”
Mr Harvey said he could not thank the rescue volunteers and police enough for their efforts to find him.
Mr Harvey was found by wildlife photographer Annette Pyrah, who was in the area looking for grouse to photograph.
She saw the hiker walking down a track to the road off the moor near Keld and he waved at her.
She had been following the search for Mr Harvey, but she had presumed he had died on the moors.
“I said to him are you Harry and he said ‘yes’ I said and have you been missing for three days and he said he had.
“I just started crying, I was just so relieved.
“I offered him a sandwich but he refused and said he had cooked noodles on a fire that morning and had eaten a banana.
“He knew exactly where he was and where he was going.”
The photographer called the Tan Hill Inn and told them she had found Mr Harvey and to let people know.
She then met a mountain rescue paramedic on the road towards the pub and they took him the rest of the way for the reunion with his family.
A huge search has been conducted for Mr Harvey involving police and rescue volunteers from around the region.
The walker said he had seen the police helicopter, which had been searching for him, but didn’t realise they were looking for him.
He also saw several people on the moors but thought they were just “Joe public” out for a walk.
Video: Tan Hill Inn.
Mr Harvey said he would be back walking again soon, but son Phil and his wife Naomi insisted he’s now “grounded.”
Peter Roe, a leader with Swaledale Mountain Rescue Team, admitted members had been worried they might not find Mr Harvey alive, with the terrain on the moors between Swaledale and Arkengarthdale among the most difficult in the Dales.
“I wouldn’t have given you a pound for that outcome,” he said after Mr Harvey had been found.
“He had got lost for couple of days in the mist on the moor then found his way to the road.
“He had a bit of a fall but had managed to deal with it himself and was absolutely fine.
“We could have been walking a few years from him and we wouldn’t have known – he’s a really nice chap.”
Steve Clough, another SMRT leader, praised the efforts of all rescue team members from around the region who had attended the search and said it had been an extremely complex operation due to the terrain and weather.
As well as thanking Tan Hill for their hospitality, he thanked local gamekeepers from the Gunnerside Estate who had spent two days ferrying search teams around the moors.
He also said the happy ending highlighted the requirement to be well prepared when walking in the Dales even in the summer.
One of the SMRT volunteers revealed how she had been hit in the eye by a flying grouse while searching for Mr Harvey last night.
Rescuers heard Mr Harvey had been found minutes before a press conference was due to start when the family were due to appeal for help to find him.
Inspector Mark Gee, said: “This is fantastic news that Harry has been found safe and well.
“I want to thank all the search volunteers for their time, as well as Gamekeepers, estate owners, farmers and local residents for their help and understanding.
“Thanks also to the Tan Hill, who looked after the volunteers and Mr Harvey’s family”.