THE cause of death of a man who was found in a tent on the Bolton Abbey Estate last year is not known, an inquest has heard.

Stuart Metcalfe, 48, from Burnley, was the subject of a national missing person appeal by Lancashire Constabulary after his family had reported him missing.

At an inquest at Northallerton, Mr Metcalfe's sister, Sarah, said her brother did go off alone for weeks on end so when he left their parents' home on August 17, 2020, they were not concerned. She said her brother had left a post to her on Facebook saying he was going to the Lake District where he had work and not to worry.

After several weeks of no contact an appeal was launched on October 14 to trace him. On that same day he had approached a Police Community Support Officer in Skipton but his details were not in the database at the time so the PCSO was not alerted. She said her memory was that he was well and he had told her he was camping in a field off the Roman Road.

The inquest was told a former gamekeeper for the Bolton Abbey Estate saw a tent in Laund Pasture Plantation, between Barden and Storiths, in March 2021, but did not approach it. He took a photograph but did not think it unusual as people did occasionally camp in the area.

On September 23 that year another gamekeeper came across the tent and did inspect it. In a statement he said he called a colleague after suspecting there was a person inside. After closer inspection they called the police who attended and confirmed the death. The deceased was later identified as Mr Metcalfe through dental records. A wallet was also found with bank cards in Mr Metcalfe's name.

Police said they found no traces of disturbance or anything suspicious at the site. They said the 'camp' set-up appeared organised.

A post-mortem examination was carried out but the cause of death could not be ascertained. Toxicology samples could also not be taken.

Mr Metcalfe had no history of drug taking and was not an excessive drinker, his family said, however he did enjoy cycling and the outdoors and often visited Yorkshire.

Offering his condolences, North Yorkshire senior coroner, Jon Heath, said he was satisfied the deceased was Mr Metcalfe, but could record an open verdict into his death due to the inconclusive results of the post mortem.