The early days of Mountain Rescue was done by Police, local keepers, stalkers, shepherds, Coastguards, climbers and in the very early days the RAF Mountain Rescue. When I was Team leader at RAF Kinloss I managed to collate all the Rescues the team was involved in from the early days at the end of the War.

The RAF teams were there for aircraft crashes which sadly were many but also were at the forefront of Rescue in these early days. Most of the team were National Servicemen who if you were lucky were in the team for 18 months. Yet the job they did was exceptional for the time and if you were a climber joining a team was a great break from military life. The team had no rank and it was ability that you gained respect and it was a way out of the military life at least for the weekend. It also allowed you to climb and pioneer in some new cliffs that few had been before. Skye was one of these places and in these days the only way there was by ferry it was along journey to the Skye hills.

RAF Kinloss was a 4- 5 hour drive a long way in bad weather. On a call – out the Ferry would be put on specially and then the team went often straight on the hill.

There were no helicopters in these days and often local boats would help especially on the far side of the Cuillin. 

Getting a casualty of the hill was hard dangerous work even today and Skye is still an incredible place to climb. It is often called a climbers Mecca.

To climb the ridge in a day is a ambition of many even today.

From the SMC Journal 1955 Ridge times for the RAF Mountain Rescue Team Team Leaders Course. Incredible times.


13/06/52 Isle of Skye

Sgurr Dearg


Fallen climber.  Died of injuries.  2-day search and 2 days to recover body. Team searched in Loch Scavaig boat chartered to take team. Difficult recovery. Technical recovery.
14/06/55 Cuillins

Coire Na Creiche

Search for missing climber.  Found exhausted.
    02 –05 08/57 Isle of Skye

Sgurr Mhic Choinnich 32/450212

Recovery of fallen climber.  Casualty lowered off.  (Technical ).
26/05/58 Isle of Skye

Sgurr Alasdair


Evacuation of girl climber with a broken ankle in the Great Stone Shoot.
02/08/58 Isle of Skye

Sron na Ciche


2 injured climbers evacuated from Central Route HS, leader fell 50 FT.  Rope burns and broken ankle. (Tech) Cas taken off by boat after along stretcher carry
10/08/58 Isle of Skye

Loch Coire A Ghrunda


3 injured climbers. A schoolmaster plus 2 children.  One child sadly died and the others sustained serious injuries and were stretchered off.  (Technical).
06/06/60 Isle of Skye

T.D. Gap

Three climbers fell in TD Gap.  1 fatal and 2 with minor injuries.  500ft ropes used for lower. Technical – On way of carrying the stretcher the field workers in Glenbrittle took off their hats as a mark of respect. 
31/06/60 Isle of Skye

Sgurr an Fheadain

Fallen climber with fractured leg recovered to road.
08/06/62 Isle of Skye 3 missing climbers in the Black Cuillins.  Turned up safe and well.  1 at Coruisk Bothy and 2 at Elgol.
11/06/62 Isle of Skye Missing climber found safe and well in the foothills of the South Cuillin Ridge.
05/08/62 Isle of Skye Women with broken ankle on east shore of Loch Brittle.
-16/09/62 Isle of Skye Missing walker in Glen Brittle.  Last seen climbing the Stone Shoot on Sgumain.  Man Not Found.
142-6/63 04/08/63 Isle of Skye Injured climber on Cuillin Ridge
22/08/63 Isle of Skye

Stron na Ciche

1 injured climber and his crag fast second recovered.
31/12/63 Isle of Skye Sgurr Dubh Mhor 3 climbers killed on Dubhs ridge massive incident with Hamish MacInnes and Skye Police/locals s  team, climbers and  Kinloss MRT. Tragic incident well written in Hamish’s book Call – out. One of the hardest incidents ever.
07/06/65 Isle of Skye 3 climbers benighted in West Central Gully. Technical
16/10/65 The Quirang Search for missing walker who was located dead below the cliffs of the Quirang.
03/06/67 Isle of Skye Overdue climbers in the Coruisk area.  Turned up safe and well.
3-4/06/67 Isle of Skye Missing walker found suffering from exposure in the False Stone Shoot below the Inaccessible Pinnacle.
02/06/68 Isle of Skye

Coire Laggan

Climber fell to his death on Eastern Buttress.
02/06/68 Isle of Skye

Sron na Ciche

Climber killed on Western Buttress and his second was crag fast.  600ft lower.  Epic Call Out. Technical
10-12/09/69 Isle of Skye Missing girl found dead at foot of sea cliffs south of Uig.
Skye Op 6/52
Early Lower into the T.D Gap

How things change Skye has now has a great Mountain Rescue Team made up of locals and climbers who live in the area.

Its fantastic how things have moved on from these early days when Skye was a hard place to get to and still is a wonderful place to climb and walk.

The Current RAF Team training in Skye

Yet it can still catch you out no matter how good your gear. Rescues are still tricky there is lots of loose rock and it is to me an Alpine environment that tests you every time you venture into the hills.

The Skye Team are a great bunch of folk and cover to me the most difficult area in the UK.  Its amazing to see how things have developed within Mountain Rescue yet the true ethos on Rescue is still there. Thank you all for all your efforts. I was lucky to meet some of the Skye guides and team members in my early years and was involved in many Rescues over the years. It was a place where I learnt a lot. Night lowers seem to have been the thing then with rocks falling around. It was a place so like the Alps.

A mixed group of Skye MRT and RAF Team on a search – “where are we now” the mist has cleared.

Its good to look back at these early days and how we learned from them.

Welcome to the Skye Mountain Rescue Team website. We are a group of 35 volunteers who provide assistance to walkers and climbers on the Isle of Skye on the west coast of Scotland.

Our area of operations is mainly in the Cuillin mountains of Skye but we also assist the police and coastguard in searches along the Skye coast or other parts of the island. Also occasionally we are asked to assist other mountain rescue teams on the Scottish mainland.

When someone is in trouble on the hills in our area, the police are called and if it requires a mountain rescue callout, we are alerted by telephone to meet at a specific point. The team is fortunate to have two purpose built huts, one in Glenbrittle and another at Sligachan which were built with the generous help of St. John Scotland.

The Skye Mountain Rescue Team is a registered Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation SCIO (SC038386). Our work is supported financially by a mixture of public donations, grant aid and support from other charities. In recent years the team has received some basic support from the Scottish Government both financially and with equipment such as new radios.

However we still rely heavily on fundraising to equip and run our team. We receive some grant aid from the Scottish Mountain Rescue towards training costs, but otherwise we rely on charitable donations and fundraising.

If you would like more information about the voluntary work of the Skye mountain Rescue Team or would like to give some support by making a donation please contact Neil Urquhart, the Team Leader at the address opposite.

About heavywhalley.MBE

After dinner speaker Lecturer and Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer and loves the wild places.
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