A walker who got lost in the Cairngorms has revealed how four Aberdeen University students helped get him home.
David Wightman praised the “kindness of strangers” after the group gave him cups of tea, food and shelter until rescue crews arrived.
The experienced hillwalker had been on his way to Corrour Bothy with companion Colin Marshall when they got separated in low cloud.
Mr Wightman admits he should have “shouted or whistled” to alert Mr Marshall, but was certain he knew which way he had gone.
“I lost visibility,” the 62-year-old told BBC Scotland’s The Nine. “My mistake at that point was not shouting or whistling, in the certainty in my mind that I knew which way he’d gone.
“It’s the most stupid mistake to make of course. From that point onwards we were both on our own.”
His friend continued on to the bothy, and when Mr Wightman failed to turn up raised the alarm with police, who in turn contacted the mountain rescue team.
‘Waving goodbye to the helicopter was the lowest point’
Mr Wightman, whose mobile phone died by the time he had found a signal, said: “I had some very good luck that the average temperature for October for the Cairngorms was up.
“I had waterproof clothing on and my bag was serving as a reasonable windbreak on a slab of granite that I found.”
Teams from Braemar, Cairngorm and Aberdeen began their search, and although they knew he was equipped to spend one night in the mountains, became increasingly concerned as the search entered day two.
Mr Wightman, from Essex, spotted the search helicopter at one stage, and tried unsuccessfully to flag it down with his orange walking poles.
“Having waved goodbye to the helicopter, that for me was the lowest point of the whole experience, I then saw in the distance some granite boulders. I tucked myself in as best as possible for another 12 hours.”
The following morning while travelling alongside the River Dee, he eventually found four Aberdeen University students who were aware of a rescue search for a lone hiker.
From across the river he could hear them shouting “are you David Wightman?”
‘They restored my faith in humanity’
The students escorted him to shelter where they made cups of tea and lit a fire.
Mr Wightman said: “They shared their food, peanut butter out the jar – ‘stick your hand in, don’t worry’ – beef jerky, apples, have whatever you like. It was the kindness of strangers – it just restored my faith in human nature.”
They used a piece of silver foil to attract the attention of the helicopter searching overhead. He was then flown off the hill, and reunited with Mr Marshall, and then his family.
— BraemarMRT (@BraemarMRT) October 10, 2021