Two rescued in the Galloway hills

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Snowfall and plunging temperatures across the South of Scotland resulted in a busy weekend for Galloway Mountain Rescue Team.

The team responded to two incidents, whilst neighbouring colleagues from Moffat attended another incident in their area.

About 2.20 pm on Saturday 16th January, Police Scotland called the team out after receiving a report of a 65 year old local woman having sustained a leg injury during a descent of Cairnsmore of Fleet.

Galloway Mountain Rescue responded by deploying 14 personnel from Newton Stewart and Castle Douglas and Rescue 999, the new HM Coastguard helicopter based at Prestwick, was tasked to attend the scene.

Mike Kneeshaw, Depute Team Leader who co-ordinated the rescue said: “We used a system called Sarloc to locate the casualty at around 500 metres above sea level on the popular hill path to the summit of Cairnsmore of Fleet. It was freezing hard and snowing, with cloud level hovering around the casualty location. Rescue 999 airlifted five rescuers from our RV point directly to the location and an additional five personnel started making their way on foot.”

“The casualty was found to have a broken ankle and other suspected leg injuries and our priority was to package her comfortably for an airlift to DGRI. Thankfully the helicopter was available and able to land nearby and within 25 minutes of our arrival she was in the air and on her way to Dumfries.”

At the time of the incident, weather at sea level contrasted significantly with the full winter conditions such a short distance away on the hillside. Underfoot it was extremely slippery, requiring the use of crampons or some other form of suitable grips, and by recommendation an ice axe.

Then, about 9.40pm on Sunday 17th January, Police Scotland requested the team attend at Backhill of Bush, in the heart of the Galloway Forest Park, to locate a 24 year old Patna man who was overdue returning home after staying at the remote hillside bothy.

Ken Mackenzie, Team Leader, said: “After a lengthy period of snowfall and treacherous road conditions, there was concern for this man’s well being. Three companions had chosen to return home on foot and had encountered very poor weather.”

“We deployed a crew of four personnel from Newton Stewart in our response Land Rover.

“It was a slow, often tricky drive once we left the main public road, with significant snow in the forest. Thankfully we found him safe and well in the bothy and he was brought out none the worse for his being cut off by the weather.”

Many mountain enthusiasts relish the experience of enjoying the challenge of experiencing winter conditions. Mountain rescue advice would always extend to ensuring you fully understand the weather forecast and plan your trip accordingly. Clothing and equipment suitable for the prevailing conditions must be worn at all times and the use of crampons and ice axes is strongly recommended.”