Two walkers spark four-hour search in Pentland Hills involving police helicopter - but 'fail to tell' authorities they made it to safety

More than a dozen mountain rescue volunteers were called out for the search.

Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 8:18 pm
Updated Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 9:16 pm

Two walkers sparked a four-hour search in the Pentland Hills involving a police helicopter - but failed to tell the authorities they'd made it to safety.

Thirteen volunteers from Tweed Valley Mountain Rescue Team were called out to search the area between Castlelaw and Allermuir hills, after one of them fell and suffered an injury.

Speaking to the Evening News, MRT leader Dave Wright said they searched a 6km sq area but stood down about four hours later after no sightings. He said: "It started off with us thinking it was going to be a rescue but it turned into a search.

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Tweed Valley Mountain Rescue during the search.

"What drew us to the conclusion of standing down was the really thorough air support with good conditions in the afternoon from the air, and thermal imaging cameras for picking up walkers. We had a really high confidence that no one was there in any difficulty.

"There was a lot of snow on the ground which provided really good contrast had someone been walking."

Hypothermia risk

Mr Wright said the stricken walkers had to borrow a mobile phone from another hillwalker as they weren't carrying phones themselves.

During the search.

But after fighting through some snow showers and biting cold conditions, and ascending the 1,600ft summit of Allermuir Hill, the volunteers could find no trace of the casualties with the information they had.

Mr Wright said the search was widened in case the information received in the emergency call was wrong.

Due to the risk of hypothermia, the MRT called for air support from a police helicopter which thoroughly searched the area, including crags around Caerketton Hill, and found no one.

However, Mr Wright said he is not aware the walkers told police or the MRT about getting off the hill safely.

Mr Wright said: "It's always worrying when you have a call and all of a sudden they are not where the intelligence has led you.

"I'm not saying there was any bad intent but people don't realise they ask for help, they have to let folk know if they self-rescue. I genuinely think people don't realise how much effort goes into finding them. Every call out is taken really seriously.

"When bad weather happens we know we will probably get a call out but the overriding message here is: Go ahead, use the outdoors and if something bad happens and you need to call for help that's absolutely fine. But if you manage to self rescue or get off the hill then let the authorities know.

"We wear the red jackets when out on the hill but behind these are families with childcare arrangements and work colleagues who are impacted by call outs."