Major search for a missing mum who was last seen walking dog near river in Lancashire

  • A video report by Granada Reports journalist Emma Sweeney

Police say they are "extremely concerned" after the search for a mother who disappeared while walking her dog along a river enters its fourth day.

Nicola Bulley, 45, has not been seen since 9.15am on Friday 27 January after walking along a footpath in the town of Wyre, Lancashire.

The mum's mobile phone - still connected to a conference call - was found on a bench near the riverbank, off Garstang Road in St Michael's on Wyre, while her brown-coloured spaniel was also discovered close to where she was last seen.

“The dog was found about an hour later, as was her mobile phone, so her family are very concerned, as are we. We’ve mounted a really intensive operation to try to find Nicola," Lancashire Police said.

Her dog was found loose between the river and the bench, Superintendent Sally Riley added.

She said she did not believe her disappearance is a 'crime inquiry' and was keeping a "really open mind about what could have happened".

"The likelihood is that Nicola has gone missing," Superintendent Riley said.

Specialist search officers drive a boat along the River Wyre where Lancashire Police are searching for missing Nicola. Credit: PA Images

A member of the public saw her at around 9.15am, police said, and her family informed police she had gone missing.

Superintendent Riley, who said Ms Bulley knew the area well and used to do that walk regularly, added that concern is rising as the days pass by.

She said: “We’ve got a large area to search. People do go missing but clearly as time goes on, we become more and more concerned for Nicola.

“But we’re very much hoping that we will find something to try to bring her home safe and well soon.”

Police dive teams, fire service drones, search dogs, helicopters and mountain rescue volunteers have all been deployed to the area to carry out extensive searches.

Officers say they are also supporting Nicola’s family and remain in close contact with them.

Bowland Pennine Mountain Rescue Team (BPMRT) said 25 volunteers contributed to the search over an eight-hour period on Saturday.

They were joined by North West Ambulance Service, Lancashire Police, the Police Dive Team, Lancashire Fire and Rescue (LFRS), National Police Air Service (Helicopter), a LFRS Search Dog and an LFRS Drone.

A missing person notice attached to a gate in St Michael's on Wyre, where police are searching for Nicola who was last seen walking her dog. Credit: PA Images

Nicola, who is described as white, 5ft 3ins tall with light brown shoulder-length hair, was last seen walking her dog before going missing.

She was wearing a long black gilet jacket with a hood, black jeans and olive green ankle wellies and her hair was tied into a ponytail.

Police say Nicola, from Inskip speaks with an Essex accent and also has links to the Thornton-Cleveleys area.

In an update on Monday, Superintendent Sally Riley from Lancashire Police said: “We appeal for anyone who may have been driving through the village of St Michael’s last Friday morning at about 9.15am.

"We ask any one who may have dashcam footage that could be of use to us, or people who may have been dog-walking in the area or on the tow path to come forward."

Anybody who has seen Nicola, or has information about where she might be, is asked to call 101, quoting log 473 of January 27. For immediate sightings call 999.