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The scale of the broken river
The bothy beside the raging river
Royal Navy airlifts five people and a dog stranded by a river in spate in Torridon to safety

HMS Gannet SAR helicopter rescues five walkers

Published: 20 Aug 2014

A Royal Navy helicopter went to the rescue of five walkers after they were stranded in Torridon by a river in spate.

Following very heavy rainfall on Monday night 11 August, the group of two men and three children – as well as a dog – found their route out of the hills blocked by a river which had not only burst its banks but had become a raging torrent.

The group had stayed in Craig bothy close by overnight.

Formerly one of the UK’s most remote youth hostels, Craig bothy is on a path from close to Red Point on the north western mouth of Loch Torridon and the bothy is almost nine miles south.

Although there was a wooden bridge, it was unsafe to cross it in the fast-flowing conditions.

The Mark 5 Sea King from HMS Gannet in Prestwick was on scene at 10.35am on Tuesday – heavy rain and force 6 westerly winds, as well as poor visibility, made the approach difficult, but the aircraft achieved a hover close to the bothy.

Aircrewman Petty Officer Alan ‘Speedy’ Speed was winched to the ground and made a check on the walkers who had returned to the bothy; with all well and no injuries, the Sea King then landed close by and the party walked up to the aircraft.

“The river was in full spate,” said Lieutenant Angela Lewis, duty observer.

“All the people and their dog were absolutely fine, but there was definitely no way they could have crossed.

“As summer weather goes, it was really horrible – windy, rainy and cooler than you would expect at this time of year.

“And the ground was sodden, which made finding a safe place to land the helicopter a little more interesting.

“We put the aircraft down as close as we could and the group was escorted to it safely by Speedy.

“It was a rapid job and, with no one hurt and no further intervention required, we dropped them at Red Point road where their car was.”


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