Scottish mountain rescuers condemn 999 abuse after 16-mile trek in ‘horrendous’ conditions finds man sleeping in bothy

A mountain rescue team has condemned the “total abuse” of its resources after a hillwalker sparked a hazardous rescue operation in “horrendous” wintry conditions, only to be found sleeping safely in a bothy.

A 16 strong-group from Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team travelled more than 16 miles in a 12 hour-long operation beset by heavy rain, snowfall and 60mph winds as Storm Brendan battered swathes of the country.

The operation was prompted after a 999 call around 4pm on Monday, alerting the team to an “injured” walker on a path by Ben Alder, south of Dalwhinnie in the Highlands.

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According to Willie Anderson, the team leader, the caller explained he was with a party of three, but had been separated in the poor conditions.

The team received a call to assist an injured walker in the Ben Alder area last night in the midst of Storm Brendan.

“He was soaked and finding the conditions tough and said he had injured his leg,” Mr Anderson recalled. However, when the team eventually located the man, in his 20s, around 4am this morning, he was already reunited with his companions and “wrapped up” in a sleeping bag in McCook’s Bothy on the Ben Alder estate.

Cairngorm MRT described the incident as a “total abuse” of its resources, with the supposed injury suffered by the walker, from Edinburgh, amounting to no more than a “sore tendon”.

“To say we were not happy would be an understatement,” Mr Anderson said.

“We were walking into the teeth of the storm in darkness with winds gusting at 60mph, and with sleet, snow and rain. It was horrendous and really dangerously wet underfoot.

“Eventually we found them wrapped up in sleeping bags in the bothy. They were left in no doubt about our feelings.”

Mr Anderson added: “We said ‘why didn’t you call to tell us that he was OK and had made it to the bothy?’ We really didn’t get a satisfactory answer.”

It comes as severe weather conditions continued to cause disruption across parts of Scotland today.

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Dozens of Caledonian MacBrayne services were subject to cancellation or disruption, with the firm cancelling sailings today on its three Mallaig services and the Ardrossan to Brodwick crossing. Damage to overhead lines also led to disruption on ScotRail’s Inverclyde and Ayrshire routes.

A Met Office yellow warning is in place until midnight for very strong winds across the Western Isles, Argyll and Bute, and the western Highlands. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency had 28 outstanding flood warnings this evening.

The Met Office’s Oli Claydon said the north and west of the country could be hit by winds of up to 70mph from Storm Brendan.