Copter rescues walkers

A PARTY of five walkers were airlifted by rescue helicopter from the Cheviot Hills at the weekend after becoming trapped by rising floodwaters.

Two of the group – all from Edinburgh and East Lothian – have heart conditions and had run out of medication.

The drama unfolded after the Borders Search and Rescue Unit was called out shortly after 7pm on Saturday to the incident in the Bowmont Valley, south of Yetholm.

With the weather worsening, rescuers had to hike in on foot and on locating the walkers, guided in the Royal Navy helicopter from HMS Gannet at Prestwick.

The deteriorating conditions meant the helicopter could not fly the walkers to Borders General Hospital for treatment and so it diverted to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

The walkers had been staying in the Auchope Bothy at the top end of the valley when their problems started and were unable to get out of the area due to severe flooding.

Stuart Fuller-Shapcott, deputy team leader of the Border Search and Rescue Unit, told TheSouthern the conditions had been horrendous.

"Conditions were really bad. Two of the party had heart problems which required regular medication.

"But they'd run out of medication some 24 hours earlier, so required assistance."

With the regular rescue team doctor unavailable, rescuers were unable to take in replacement medication and so the walkers had to be speedily evacuated by air.

Mr Fuller-Shapcott, who praised the skill of the helicopter crew, added: "Members of the team struggled through very testing conditions for some distance over the hilltops to reach Auchope Bothy, while the Royal Navy rescue helicopter had to struggle through very difficult flying conditions.

"But, working closely with the helicopter crew, all five were safely evacuated to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. The team members then had the difficult task of walking back out to Halterburn to their Land Rovers and safely returning to Kelso at about 3am."