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Hillwalkers set off on Cairngorm trek – which they were rescued from last year

David Wightman and Colin Marshall before setting off at Kingussie on Thursday morning.
David Wightman and Colin Marshall before setting off at Kingussie on Thursday morning. Supplied by David Wightman.

Two hillwalkers who sparked a major rescue after getting lost in the Cairngorms have set off to finally complete their trek.

David Wightman and Colin Marshall became separated in bad weather during a walk in October.

The experienced pair were on their way to Corrour Bothy when Mr Wightman got disorientated in low cloud and howling wind.

Mr Marshall, 54, managed to get to the bothy safely but Mr Wightman spent two nights out in the elements on his own as members of the Braemar, Cairngorm and Aberdeen mountain rescue teams searched for him.

By chance, he met four university students who helped get him to safety.

Now the hillwalkers have set off to complete the same walk – and are raising money for the mountain rescue teams who came to their aid.

Carn a' Mhaim in the Cairngorms.
Carn a’ Mhaim in the Cairngorms was near where the men went walking. Photo by Graham Simpson.

Better preparation and conditions this time

Speaking just before they set off this morning, Mr Wightman, 62, said: “I am a bit apprehensive, but I’m in good company with my friend Colin, who did all the right things back in October.

“I think the psychological point for me is going to be on Friday and going past the area where things went wrong.

“Hopefully there won’t be the sorts of conditions we faced last time.

“But even if they are, I think we’re better prepared.

Back in October the pair had started a four-day hike in the Cairngorms, which started in Kingussie and was due to finish in Aviemore, when they got into difficulty.

Mr Wightman, an experienced hillwalker, had been on his way to spend the night at Corrour Bothy with Mr Marshall when they got separated in low cloud and “howling wind”.

Corrour Bothy with the Devils Point behind
Corrour Bothy with the Devils Point behind was where the pair were meant to spend the night. Photo by Susan Ryrie.

Mr Marshall continued on to the bothy, and when Mr Wightman failed to turn up he raised the alarm.

As mountain rescue teams scrambled, Mr Marshall shared their route plan while Mr Wightman’s wife Tracey accessed his Fitbit to try and track him down.

The Fitbit confirmed he was moving.

Disorientated Mr Wightman, meanwhile, was using a partial printed map and a compass to try and find the bothy but ended up “significantly” off course and spent the night sheltered behind his rucksack.

David Wightman in a jacket and rucksack.
David Wightman was reported missing and a search was launched to find him. Supplied by Police Scotland.

Mr Wightman, from near Southend-on-Sea in Essex, managed to find shelter and was eventually found by a group of Aberdeen University students.

The students shared their food with him before the mountain rescue teams airlifted him to safety – 48 hours after he first became lost.

After his ordeal, Mr Wightman launched a fundraiser for the Braemar, Cairngorm and Aberdeen mountain rescue teams who came to save him.

‘Special mention to the Cairngorms mountain rescue team’

Mr Wightman said today: “I hadn’t realised that these three mountain rescue teams had put together something like 40 people and a couple of dogs to come find me.

“That’s quite an amazing effort when you think about it. These people are doing this 24/7, and 365 days a year as unpaid volunteers.

“So for them to have the training and equipment they need – they need fundraising.

“Special mention to the Cairngorms Mountain Rescue Team who coordinated the rescue effort, I think it’s a marvelous operation.”

River with old bridge in Cairngorms National Park.
River with old bridge in Cairngorms National Park. The park can be beautiful, but also dangerous. Photo from Shutterstock.

Expensive equipment needed

Ian Cornfoot the team leader of Cairngorm’s Mountain Rescue Team told Good Morning Scotland today: “Even experienced hikers like Colin and David can be caught out.

“They’ve got more separated in the hill fog on the top of the mountains in a very desolate place which is hard to navigate.”

The team at Cairngorm’s Mountain Rescue Team trains twice a week and uses expensive equipment to prepare for their average of 45 callouts a year.

Mr Wightman and Mr Marshall have so far raised £2,699, to donate visit here.

 

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