South Scotland

Huge operation to rescue 10 walkers from Cheviot Hills

Rescue Image copyright Northumberland National Park MRT
Image caption The casualties were found on Windy Gyle in the Cheviot Hills

Ten walkers have been rescued from deep snow in the Cheviot Hills after members of the group began suffering from hypothermia.

Tweed Valley Mountain Rescue Team said it was one of the biggest joint operations in years, with four teams from England and Scotland involved.

Rescue volunteers had to crawl through 4ft (1.2m) snow drifts to reach the casualties on Windy Gyle.

All the walkers were safely off the hill just after midnight on Monday.

Members of Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team (NNPMRT), Border Search and Rescue Unit and North of Tyne Mountain Rescue Team were involved in the rescue, with 64 team members on the hill.

The teams were called out at about 15:00 on Sunday.

A spokesman for the Tweed Valley team said the 10-hour rescue had been complicated by the fact that the weather was too bad for a Coastguard rescue helicopter to pick up the casualties.

Image copyright Tweed Valley MRT
Image caption The operation to rescue the hillwalkers lasted about 10 hours
Image copyright Tweed Valley MRT
Image caption Members from four rescue teams, including Tweed Valley MRT, were sent to help the walkers

NNPMRT posted on its Facebook page: "As members were nearing summit of Windy Gyle, further information suggested the walkers had headed east to try to locate some shelter.

"After 3.5 hours in challenging winter conditions the group of walkers were located. Team members had to wade through three to four foot snow drifts, sometimes even crawl, to reach the walkers' location.

"All the walkers were suffering from the effects of cold, with three requiring more urgent treatment and evacuation."

The team said the Coastguard helicopter from Prestwick had made a "valiant effort" to reach the walkers, but had been hampered by cloud and drifting snow.

A farmer from Rowhope used an all-terrain vehicle to take the worst affected casualties down to the valley. The remaining members of the group and two dogs were walked off by rescue team members.

The leader of the NNPMRT, Iain Nixon, said: "I would thank all the agencies involved and in particular praise the efforts of the farmer from Rowhope, without whose assistance the rescue would have taken much longer.

"The collective efforts of all involved ensured a successful outcome."

Image copyright Northumberland National Park MRT
Image caption All the casualties were safely off the hill in the early hours of Monday morning

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