Petty Officer Mike Henson leads five of the walkers to the safety of the Royal Navy helicopter

Petty Officer Mike Henson leads five of the walkers to the safety of the Royal Navy helicopter. Picture MoD/Crown Copyright

Nine walkers were airlifted from Britain’s second highest mountain after getting caught out in heavy snow.

The nine, including six teenagers, called a friend for help about 10am today, Tuesday, from Ben MacDui.

Braemar Mountain Rescue Team were alerted to the plight of the walkers, who were reported stuck on the 1,309m (4,295ft) mountain in the southern Cairngorms.

A Royal Navy Sea King helicopter from HMS Gannet in Ayrshire flew to the walkers’ rescue and plucked four of the party from Derry Cairngorm and took them to Braemar before returning to the mountainside to airlift the remaining five people.

A police spokesperson said: “Grampian Police can confirm that all nine hillwalkers have been successfully rescued by a Royal Navy helicopter and taken to Braemar.

“All nine are safe and well.”

The group of walkers on the hillside, seen from the rescue helicopter. Photo: MoD/Crown Copyright

The group of walkers on the hillside, seen from the rescue helicopter. Photo: MoD/Crown Copyright

The Royal Navy Sea King was diverted from a training flight off Little Cumbrae in the Clyde to search for the walkers. It refuelled at Killin and had to contend with headwinds of 40 knots (74kph) before reaching the site about 1.10pm.

The duty observer and navigator on the flight was Lieutenant Angela Lewis who said: “Wind speeds on Ben MacDui when we arrived on scene were probably in the region of 50 knots (93kph) and wind chill around –35C, so it was quite unpleasant; very, very cold.

“Although it was a relatively low cloud base, we were able to find the group immediately and the rescue was straightforward and rapid, even with the pretty awful conditions.

“We landed relatively close to the group, though distant enough not to stir up too much snow with the rotors near them and our aircrewman Petty Officer Mike Henson went over to the group to make sure that they were all OK.

The Royal Navy Sea King landed a short distance from the group. Photo: MoD/Crown Copyright

The Royal Navy Sea King landed a short distance from the group. Photo: MoD/Crown Copyright

“Finding that they were all fine and that there were no injuries, we lifted the group down the hill in two transfers – the first with four of the teenagers and the second with the remaining two teenagers and the three adults.

“Everyone was relieved to see us and very grateful to be taken off the hill and to get to the warmth and safety of Braemar Mountain Rescue Team base.”

The job was Petty Officer Henson’s very first as a qualified Sea King and search and rescue crew after recently joined HMS Gannet having transferred from Merlin helicopters.

Today was his final training and he had just qualified before the crew left Little Cumbrae en route to the Cairngorms job.

With him and Lieutenant Lewis onboard were pilots Lieutenant Commander Geoff Richardson and Lieutenant Mike and observer Lieutenant Alex Stevenson.

Heavy snow, which had been forecast, has hit Scotland and is due to move south into northern England through today.

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