A missing pensioner who spent the night on the hill after a trail biking trip went wrong was rescued after using the mirror off his bike to guide in a search helicopter.
George McGowan had been reported missing in the Ben Bhraggie area near Golspie on Monday evening sparking a major search and rescue operation.
The 77-year-old had been due to return home from his venture on his white Beta Alp 200 motorcycle on Monday afternoon around 1pm.
However, he failed to do so.
Search teams scaled the hillside on Monday evening assisted by coastguard and police helicopters, but with no trace found the search was stood down overnight.
Searches resumed yesterday morning before Mr McGowan was located after midday – nearly 24 hours on from his scheduled return time.
It is understood Mr McGowan used the wing mirror off his motorbike to alert the police air support unit to his location before they landed and provided first aid ahead of assistance from Assynt and Dundonnell mountain rescue teams.
Police helicopter assisted colleagues @northernPolice in the search for a missing male in a remote area near Golspie. Crew located him, landed on and provided first aid until arrival of mountain rescue team. #policeairsupport pic.twitter.com/35JjhSBoOv
— Police Scotland Air Unit (@polscotair) July 28, 2020
Local businessman John Murray, who joined in the searches, said: “They found him because he was waving the mirror of his motorbike.
“The helicopter pilot said had he not done that they wouldn’t have seen him.
“He was just at the back of the Ben. He was in a kind of plantation bit where they were doing new fences.”
Mr Murray said he and his family felt inclined to assist in the searches given the circumstances, however, it turned out to be a bit of a “needle in a haystack”.
He added: “We saw the helicopter flying about most of Monday evening and we knew then that something was up.
“We were concerned, particularly the kind of day it was on Monday as it was not very nice.
“We had heard it was somebody local and on a motorbike, and somebody that was elderly. That’s what spurred us on.”
Mr Murray praised the efforts of his fellow residents, adding that they are a credit to the “close-knit community”.
He said: “We care about the community, a lot of us do. It is a good wee community here and when one of your fellow residents is in trouble, we all get out there.
“The type of weather it was – it wasn’t that warm – and the chap being 77, we feared the worst but we were just super happy it was a positive outcome.
“It was a good team effort from locals alongside the mountain rescue teams, police and fire service.
“Everybody remained calm which was great and we are delighted with the outcome.”
Mr McGowan was passed into the care of the ambulance service yesterday to be checked over, however, he is understood not to have sustained any serious injuries.
Chief Inspector Jamie Wilson said: “We are grateful to all of the public volunteers who helped with our inquiries, as well as our partners from Assynt Mountain Rescue Team, HM Coastguard, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and SARDA for their assistance with searches overnight and into today.”