South Scotland

Danish students rescued on first day of three-month walking tour

Sissel and Marie Bertelsen Image copyright Sissel Bertelsen
Image caption The pair have shelved plans to walk further along the Pennine Way

Two Danish students had to be rescued from the Pennine Way on the Scottish border on the first day of a three-month walking tour.

The women set off from Kirk Yetholm in the Borders on Thursday but ran into difficulties after darkness fell.

Cousins Sissel and Marie Bertelsen ended up far from shelter without an adequate tent and phoned for help.

Borders Search and Rescue Unit (BSARU) was called out and the pair traced "cold and a bit scared" but unharmed.

Sissel told the BBC Scotland news website: "There was a lot more snow than we expected and it was cold and wet.

"There was snow up to our knees almost - we didn't expect it to be as cold.

"It didn't look very good for us to stay up there overnight."

Missed hut

The students had just arrived in Edinburgh on Wednesday and were planning to spend three months walking the UK and Ireland.

They set off from the northern end of the Pennine way on Thursday, intending to camp at Windy Gyle.

They struggled through considerable amounts of lying snow and then missed a refuge hut at Auchope Ridge before calling for assistance.

BSARU team leader Stuart Fuller-Shapcott said: "They made a 112 call for help and asked for fire rescue.

Image copyright Borders Search and Rescue Unit
Image caption There was a considerable amount of snow lying in the area at the time of the rescue

"This was then routed to the police by the fire service, who called out BSARU.

"No hint of a location was available, even after phone conversations."

A mobile-phone app, however, did help to pinpoint their position to a point near Windy Gyle.

Mr Fuller-Shapcott said. "The young women had just started the climb towards their exposed destination, which lies on the Pennine Way at 619m (2,000ft) and became aware that they were getting increasingly tired and cold, and were far outside their comfort zone.

"Twenty team members were available, having been diverted en route to our monthly business meeting, and made their way to Cocklawfoot Farm in the remote Bowmont Valley, and from there onto the hill.

"Conditions at valley level were extraordinarily muddy and slippery after recent rain and snow-melt, which made vehicular access to the hill difficult."

'Bit inexperienced'

A local farmer was able to shuttle some of the rescue team onto the hill with the remainder making their way on foot.

"The casualties were found cold and a bit scared but otherwise unharmed," Mr Fuller-Shapcott said.

"We warmed them and walked them to the Border Gate, where the farmer collected them and ferried them down into the valley."

He paid tribute to the farmer for his help as well as colleagues in Northumberland for assistance using the app to help track the walkers.

"The girls on this occasion were just a bit inexperienced and under-equipped in terms of kit and hill-craft to be tackling the Cheviots in winter conditions," added the BSARU team leader.

"No doubt, after a few days' reflection, they'll carry on with their holiday a little wiser for the experience. We wish them happy travels."

Ms Bertelsen said they did intend to continue their trip but had shelved plans to carry on along the Pennine Way.

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