A Scottish man got a big surprise while taking his dog out for an early morning walk on a usually deserted beach in the west Highlands.
Brad Cain, a 52-year-old who lives in Mallaig, was out on Camusdarach beach with his dog Onyx before sunrise on Thursday when he heard a strange noise above the sound of the sea crashing on the shore.
It was only as he ventured closer that he realised he had stumbled into the middle of a major military training exercise, with hovercrafts, lorries, boats, landing craft and more than 100 armed troops from the Royal Marines.
“It was dark, and I had a flashlight,” Mr Cain said.
“As I walked along the beach, I became aware of a noise that wasn’t the normal sound of the waves on the rocks.
“The closer I got, the louder the noise became, until I recognised it as a heavy diesel engine.
“Neither of the hovercraft had a single light on them, and I was becoming more tense as I approached.
“I eventually made out the shape of what I saw to be some kind of boat, half in the water and half on the beach. I could only see the outline. I still didn’t know what it was. It was quite unsettling.
“The noise was quite deafening. As I approached, it suddenly became clear I was looking at not one but two hovercraft. I recognised the billowed skirt on the front of the hull. Two soldiers stood by a machine gun mounted on the front.”
Later, he returned to take photographs of the dramatic operation in daylight.
The commandos arrived at Camusdarach last Wednesday evening and began an assault exercise on the beach later that night. According to Mr Cain, nobody in the area had been warned about the drill and flares released during their manoeuvres were misinterpreted by the coastguard as a ship in distress.
Prior to the operation at Camusdarach, they had been on exercises around the Applecross peninsula.
The picturesque sandy beach, which lies between Mallaig and Arisaig, was famously used as a location for the film Local Hero.
The troops are staying at a campsite behind the beach until Wednesday, when they are due to return to their home base in Dorset.
The Ministry of Defence was unable to provide any information about the exercise.