It’s been a busy season so far on the Cape Wrath Trail, and for two walkers it ended up being a little more exciting than they had planned.

Report by David McGee

David McGee from Leamington Spa, Warwickshire and his colleague Nigel Jeff from Flagg, Derbyshire, were in the right place at the right time when an injured walker managed to attract their attention in the remote Ben More Assynt area of North West Scotland.

David and Nigel were walking the Cape Wrath Trail, one of the UK’s toughest long-distance walks, and were 19km in to Day 11 when they heard shouts for help in a corrie below the 998m summit ridge of Ben More Assynt. Unable to immediately locate where the calls were coming from, they ran back nearly 2km, altering their course each time they heard a shout or whistle. Nigel’s border collie Beau was first to find the injured man, at the foot of a gully.

Leaving Oykel Bridge at 9.00am with one dog, Beau
© David McGee

Beadog with Ben More Assynt behind
© David McGee

David said, “In terms of scale, it felt like we were looking for a golf ball on a football field, and the natural amphitheatre of the corrie distorted where the sound came from. Thankfully, Beau has better hearing than us!”

The injured walker, Andrew Wright from Kelso, had fallen whilst descending from the summit with his two dogs. He was conscious but badly shaken, with injuries to his right ankle, knee and hip and it was clear he was unable to walk.

With no phone signal in the corrie, Nigel, an experienced fell runner, ran 4km up to the ridge between Ben More Assynt and Conival where he was able to get through to Mountain Rescue.

“Nigel drew the short straw, as he had to stay up there at the request of the MRT to maintain contact and act as guide. Although the weather was good that day it was very windy on higher ground,” David said. “I got to sit in the sunshine with Mr Wright, making sure he was comfortable.”

Helicopter landing with David and the injured walker just visible to the left
© David McGee

The Stornoway Coastguard helicopter arrived just before 4.00pm and Mr Wright was taken on board, but the pilot felt that his dogs, both stressed and frightened by the helicopter, would be a risk within a confined space.

“They said they would have to come back for them with a police dog handler after they had delivered Mr Wright to the Inverness Hospital. As dog owners, we could appreciate how worried Andrew would be about leaving them so Nigel and I decided we would take them down to Inchnadamph, a further 12km away, with us,” David said. “It was 5.00pm and our partners were expecting us there by 6.00pm. Not wanting to worry them, we picked up the pace and ran.”

Arriving at Inchnadamph at 6.30pm with three dogs
© David McGee

David’s wife Teresa said, “We’d sent them off with one dog and they came back with three. To be honest though, we were more surprised that they were running.”

Mr Wright, holidaying in Dornoch on the east coast of Scotland, was released on crutches by the hospital at 10.00pm. As he was unable to arrange for the dogs to be collected so late, David and Nigel offered to keep the dogs overnight then drove them from Scourie to Dornoch early the following morning, before continuing their walk.

Many thanks to David McGee for sending us this story. We’re glad it was a positive outcome for all involved.

All images courtesy of David McGee