820 Naval Air Squadron head North
The Merlins of 820 NAS swapped Mounts Bay for the lochs and peaks of western Scotland as they conducted anti-submarine and mountain flying training.
Two helicopters from the Flying Fish - one of two Merlin squadrons which typically deploy en masse with aircraft carriers to provide protection against submarine attack, in 820's case the new HMS Queen Elizabeth - decamped from Helston to Prestwick.
Contrary to popular perception, HMS Gannet - the Fleet Air Arm's only foothold north of the border - didn't close with the ending of RN Search and Rescue duties at the beginning of last year.
It remains open as a forward station for any Fleet Air Arm unit wishing/needing to operate or train in western Scotland.
Flying in Scotland offers us the ability to keep our crews and engineers familiar with diverse and challenging environments away from our home in CornwallLt Dominic Rotherham
820 wanted to conduct some submarine hunting training in and around the Scottish Isles, as well as some rare mountain flying through the wintry glens and past snow-capped peaks around Loch Lomond, performing winching drills and practising rescue techniques with tugs, lowering a winchman down on to tiny clear spaces.
"Flying in Scotland offers us the ability to keep our crews and engineers familiar with diverse and challenging environments away from our home in Cornwall," explained observer Lt Dominic Rotherham.
"Although our focus is on being the first operationally capable aircraft of the future Carrier Air Wing, we must remain reactive to any task, anywhere in the world."
The squadron are likely to be back at Gannet later in the year as their Merlins are earmarked to be the first to operate from the deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth, which is due to sail for the first time from Rosyth in the summer.