Leamington man helped with mountain rescue

David McGee(right), his colleague Nigel Jeff and the dogs
David McGee(right), his colleague Nigel Jeff and the dogs

A Leamington man who recently completed a gruelling endurance race in Lapland has played a part in a mountain rescue in Scotland.

David McGee, his colleague Nigel Jeff from Flagg, Derbyshire, and their trusty canine friend Beau the border collie, were walking the Cape Wrath Trail - one of the UK’s toughest long distance walks - and were 19 kilometres in to their 11th day when they heard shouts for help in a corrie below the 998m summit ridge of Ben More Assynt.

The Stornoway Coastguard helicopter in action.

The Stornoway Coastguard helicopter in action.

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.

Beau, who is Nigel’s dog, was first to find the injured man at the foot of a gully.

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 while descending from the summit with his two dogs.

He was conscious but badly shaken, with injuries to his right ankle, knee and hip and 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.

David said: “Nigel drew the short straw, as he had to stay up there at the request of the rescue team to maintain contact and act as a guide.

“Although the weather was good that day it was very windy on higher ground.

“I got to sit in the sunshine with Andrew, making sure he was comfortable.”

The Stornoway Coastguard helicopter arrived just before 4pm and Andrew 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.

David said: “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.

“It was 5pm and our partners were expecting us there by 6pm.

“Not wanting to worry them, we picked up the pace and ran.”

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 10pm.

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.

David, 57, recently completed the 150k Rovaniemi 150 Arctic winter race in Lapland with his friend, artist and adventurer Leila Javadi.

The pair endured temperatures of minus 30 degrees below freezing.

David was the third oldest man to complete the foot race in its eight-year history.