A MISSING man once at the 'forefront of cave exploration' has been found dead.

The body of Michael Wood, from Sharples, was found on Friday in North Yorkshire, police have confirmed.

The 68-year-old was a keen walker and caver but suffered from mobility problems later in his life.

An appeal to help find him was widely shared. Police revealed he had been for missing up to a month, either from his home in Bolton or his static caravan in the Clapham area of Craven in North Yorkshire.

In a post on the Matienzo Caves & Caving Facebook page — dedicated to caving in the northern Spanish region — tribute was paid to Mr Wood.

It stated that he had been found in Friday morning in Ewes Top Moss Pot on Scales Moor which he had been exploring.

Mr Wood, who was known as Squirrel, had become increasingly frail but was known for uncovering previously undiscovered cave routes.

It read: "Squirrel first came to Matienzo in 1974 and for the next couple of years was often at the forefront of new exploration.

"His discoveries in Cueva Reñada in the early days led to the naming of the downstream streamway as Squirrel's Passage. He also took part in early explorations in such sites as Uzueka and Cueva de la Espada. He found the entrance to Torca Azpilicueta in 1982.

"In recent years, his mobility problems curtailed his caving activities but he did come out to Matienzo on a couple of occasions when he helped to video Cueva Campizo and assisted in surveying the Orillón cave complex and other caves in Ozana.

"RIP Squirrel."

The Cave Rescue Organisation (CRO) reported it discovered the body of a 68-year-old caver in a pothole in Ewes Top Moss Pot on Friday morning.

Members were called in to assist in the search by North Yorkshire Police who had been alerted to the man's disappearance.