A mountain rescue team leader has blasted an injured walker who sparked a major rescue in the Cairngorms during Storm Brendan.
After battling 60mph winds, sleet, snow and rain, members of Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team found the man wrapped in his sleeping bag in a remote, but infamously haunted, bothy.
In total the 16 volunteers walked a round trip total of 26kms (16.1 miles) in a 12-hour operation which ended at 4am Tuesday.
They found the man, who was in his 20s from Edinburgh, with his two friends snugly wrapped up in McCooks Bothy on the Ben Alder Estate.
It is on the shores of Loch Ericht and miles from the nearest road and is famous for being haunted – with many documented strange happenings, including the appearances of a poltergeist, crashing doors with no explanation, unexplained footsteps outside and music playing from an empty room.
“I really hope they were haunted during the night,” said Cairngorm MRT team leader Willie Anderson.
“To say we were not happy would be an understatement.
“We were called out to assist an ‘injured’ walker on path between Ben Alder Lodge and Ben Alder Cottage around 4pm on Monday. No coastguard search and rescue helicopter support was available due to the storm conditions.
“The guy was with a party of three but had somehow got separated in the conditions. He called 999 on his mobile phone and gave a grid reference. He was soaked and finding the conditions tough and said he had injured his leg.
“But when we got to the location he was not there. We were walking into the teeth of the storm in darkness with winds gusting 60mph, and with sleet, snow and rain. It was horrendous and really dangerously wet underfoot.
“Eventually we found them wrapped up in their sleeping bags in the bothy. They were left in no doubt about our feelings.
“Who knows why they were out in those conditions in the first place? You do not go out in those conditions unless you have resilience. His leg injury turned out to be a sore tendon. I think he just got tired and panicked.
“We said why didn’t you call to tell us that he was okay and had made it to the bothy? We really didn’t get a satisfactory answer.”
Tayside MRT provided vehicles to help with the rescue effort.
Call Out 04/20: Late evening/early morning call out to assist our iSMR colleagues Cairngorm MRT with the evacuation of…
“It was all very avoidable., ” added Mr Anderson. “When he decided to carry on walking he should have called 999 to cancel the call.
“People should plan ahead, particularly in the short days and bad weather.”
Members of the public hailed the efforts of rescuers. City Slicker tweeted: “Brilliant. 6 and a half hours since you first tweeted this rescue.
“I knew that this was a huge task due to the location, and the distance you had to walk. Well done. And to think that you are all unpaid volunteers with families and jobs. I doff my cap to you all. Outstanding.”