A Church of Scotland minister from Mull has died after going missing on a Highland mountain.
Reverend Johnny Paton, who led Kilninian and Kilmore, embarked on a solo expedition around 1.30pm on Monday to climb an area known as the “Great Wilderness” on An Teallach in the Wester Ross.
The 60-year-old, who was an experienced hill walker, had estimated his trip would take around seven to eight hours to complete, but sadly failed to return to Ullapool where he was on holidaying with his wife Cathy.
After failing to make contact with him, his concerned wife raised the alarm around 10.30pm, more than nine hours before his body was discovered.
Following news of his death, Stewart Shaw, clerk to the Presbytery of Argyll, paid tribute to his “kind friend”.
He said: “We are shocked and deeply saddened by the sudden loss of a distinguished minister and kindly friend, Rev Johnny Paton, minister on the Isle of Mull.
“We extend our sympathies and condolences to his wife, Cathy and his family.
“We hold them and his congregations in our thoughts and prayers at this tragic time.”
Members of the Dundonnell Moutain Rescue Team were assisted by the coastguard search and rescue helicopter in the early hours of Tuesday morning to help locate the minister’s whereabouts.
The teams carried out extensive searches across the area before recovering his body off the mountain shortly before 9am.
A Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokeswoman said: “At around 2.30am HM Coastguard received a request for assistance to search for a missing walker on An Teallach in Wester Ross.
“HM Coastguard search and rescue helicopter based at Stornoway and Dundonnell Mountain Rescue Team were sent to the scene to carry out a search. After an extensive search the person was found and recovered to the helicopter.”
Mr Paton undertook his post on Mull in 2013, before going onto hold a multitude of positions within the Presbytery of Argyll.
Worship will be conducted by Rev Dr Roderick Campbell, Moderator of the Presbytery of Argyll at Salen Church on Sunday from 11am, paying tribute to the much loved minister whilst offering support to his grieving family, friends and the congregation.
In a statement released by police, Sergeant Alasdair Goskirk said: “Our thoughts are with the man’s friends and family at this very sad time.
“There are no suspicious circumstances and a report will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal in due course.”