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Walker Lost In The Cairngorms For Weekend

An exhausted and lost walker survived two nights in the Cairngorms while a helicopter and mountain rescue teams search for him.

The Press and Journal report that David Wightman spent the weekend exhausted and alone, exposed to the bitter elements after getting separated from his walking companion Colin Marshall.

The major search and rescue operation was launched once Mr Marshall raised the alarm and 62-year-old Mr Wightman was eventually found by a group of students who shared their food with him until he could be airlifted to safety.

I just have a huge debt to all of these people. It's been quite a humbling experience,” said Wightman

The walkers were in the Ben Macdui area and heading to Corrour Bothy when poor weather caused them to lose track of each other on Friday 8 October.

Wightman, from Southend-on-Sea in Essex, said that he lost visibility, and recognises that his first mistake was not shouting and whistling, certain in his mind that he knew where his companion was heading.

Thankfully, he said that he had some very ‘good luck’ on his side, as the temperatures were above average for October in the Cairngorms, he had waterproof cloth packed, and he found suitable shelter.

I was able to get through 12 hours of darkness and stay reasonably warm. There were some quite severe shivering fits in the middle of the night. I kept my head torch on in case there was anything coming out to look, but [there was] no sign of any search that night,” he said.

The Braemar, Cairngorm and Aberdeen mountain rescue teams were altered by Marshall, as well as a police search and rescue dogs.

However, the following day was a ‘total disaster’ according to Wightman. He had only 15 per cent battery left on his phone, and his charger had got damp and wouldn’t work. Determined, Wightman made it down to the valley floor of the River Dee but faced another night out in the open.

He saw a rescue helicopter at one point but was unable to get its attention.

I know now, and... this would have saved me an awful lot of heartache and grief, that if you have a torch, even in the daylight, shine it,” he said.

Seeing the helicopter leave was Wightman’s lowest point, and he prepared himself for another 12 hour night in the open.

However, by the next morning, he heard voices asking ‘Are you David Wightman?’, as four students from Aberdeen University who had heard about the search found him, led him to shelter, lit a fire, and made cups of tea.

They shared their food, peanut butter out the jar - stick your hand in, don't worry - beef jerky, apples, have whatever you like,” Wightman said.

"It's the kindness of strangers - just restored my faith in human nature.”

After attracting the attention of a helicopter with a piece of silver foil, Wightman was airlifted to safety from the hill, to be reunited with his family and Marshall.

Asked if he would one day return to the Cairngorms, Wightman said: “I love the environment so I could be tempted for sure.

"There are things I would do differently given what has happened. It's a wonderful part of the world.”

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