A squad of 20 coastguards, five police officers and numerous local volunteers spent hours looking for two canoeists who were feared lost – but were actually safely camped on a Scottish island.

The search was called off after the pair, from Leeds, were spotted in the early hours on Innis Chonnell, on Loch Awe, south-east of Oban. They had been reported missing at 9.30pm yesterday when they failed to return to their lodgings in Blarghour.

The two paddlers, a man and a woman in their thirties, had set up camp for the night but not told anyone. Clyde Coastguard service put the estimated cost of the rescue at £6,000. A helicopter, two boats and five vehicles took part in the search.

Stuart Atkinson, Coastguard watch officer, told the BBC: “You don't expect people to go camping at this time of year, so our advice would be: always let somebody ashore know where you’re going and when you’re going to be back, otherwise this is what happens.”