- Oct 12, 2022
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Excellent, useful post. Thank you for your effort.Hi all, first post for me here but I have followed Jesus's story extensively and I know the area very well. I wild-swim in the Wharfe at Netherby regularly and had seen Jesus swimming there with his friends a few weeks before he went missing.
I might be able to clarify a few things about the local area and also I swam in the river the exact day Jesus went missing, August 1st.
The Wharfe is very unpredictable and it's generally only accessible around this point from the north bank - on the footpath along to Netherby there are lots of good access points as the ground slopes down to the river gently and there are sandy deposits creating little beaches - Netherby deep has sand brought from Bridlington in the 1930s. On the south bank of the river from Harewood Bridge to around Carthick Wood the bank is very steep and crumbling, you cannot access or exit the river safely or easily until a pebbly beach opposite Bank Hill where there used to be a ford across the river.
The swimming at Netherby deep is generally safe although the water there is very deep, 9 metres in places and two children drowned there in the 60s. There is a large noticeboard put up by the children's grandparents warning of the danger which killed the popularity of it as tourist spot, although during lockdown it became pretty popular with locals again after being generally somewhere you only saw other dedicated wild swimmers. When I saw Jesus and his friends there none of them looked like very strong swimmers, they were mostly hanging out on the little beach and having short swims although obviously this is conjecture!
From what I can tell they drove to the spot. You can park up near the Maustin holiday park and it's a five minute walk to the swim spot. I don't think many people are aware you can walk there from Harewood bridge, I don't have a car and bus/walk most places and I rarely see any other people walking to the swim spot, only anglers and dogwalkers who don't go on the path to Netherby.
Where Jesus first got off the 36 bus bus is near the turning off Harrogate road onto Swindon Lane, which is where you drive to Netherby deep if you go by car. However there are a few turnings to reach it and I suspect he might have got lost without a phone and not knowing the area well. There are usually other swimmers there on nice days and his info has been shared on the group so I'm not sure he made it to the spot. He seems to have backtracked to the bridge after wandering around for a while too.
From what I can tell about the police info about CCTV Jesus was last picked up on the camera from the harewood bridge sawmill/shed place going onto a footpath on the south side of the river, the wrong side to access it safely. I'm not sure he made it onto the footpath along the north side at all as it's not well signposted - can anyone confirm he was definitely picked up on the Bridge Court CCTV? That place is a very posh flat complex and there are several cameras around the little car park outside, I'm sure they would have more images of him walking past if so.
My thinking is that he tried to go to the usual swim spot, got lost, went back to the bridge where you can see the river and saw the well signposted footpath on the wrong side of the bridge. He walked down a way and tried to access the river from a steep bank, slipped and fell in the deep side of the river and was unable to exit.
As I mentioned earlier, I went swimming in the wharfe in between Harewood Bridge and Netherby deep the same day Jesus went missing at around 4pm with several friends. The river was much, much stronger that day than we expected, I got in at a shallow point and am a strong swimmer who regularly swims in the Wharfe but we all got out after 15 minutes of trying to find place we could safely swim without being dragged off by the currents if we took out feet off the bottom. I got swept along some 20 ft at one point which shook me up a bit! We had no idea that anyone had gone missing there that day and didn't see anyone else at that particular swim spot.
I have spent quite a lot of time walking up and down the river since he went missing. We saw divers at Harewood Bridge and Netherby deep and I've heard the police have done a surface search between Wetherby and Harewood bridge. There is a section of the river just north of East Keswick that is difficult to access, there are no public footpaths along there and the bank on the south side is more like a cliff. There are a few marshy areas with little islands and trees growing and it would be difficult to search there, I suspect his body might be caught up in the marshy bits and without any really heavy rain over the last few months I don't know if it could be washed down further.
I have been thinking about how the area could be more thoroughly searched - I would hope the police would do it but I think they have pretty much given up, there's been no activity from them for months now. You would need a boat to search that particular area of the river - if we have some heavy rain he would possibly get washed down to wetherby weir but until that happens I think he's likely to be around this area -
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