In the mid 1980s some skilled mountaineers of the Caithness Mountaineering and Ski Club joined the team, to expand it to cover fully all of Caithness and Sutherland. Winter incidents on Ben Hope, Ben Klibreck and Foinaven in the late 1980s cemented these arrangements across the north.
We are all volunteers. We train monthly using our specialised rescue equipment and search and rescue techniques. This ensures we are ready to respond to any call out, any time. However training and equipment costs money, and we continually fund raise or accept donations and sponsorship to meet our needs.
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Assynt Mountain Rescue Team is ready to respond to any call out, 24 hours a day, all year in Caithness and Sutherland. We respond to requests from Police Scotland to assist in mountain searches, rescues or recoveries. We also assist with lower level countryside and urban incidents when required.
We have two fully trained SARDA (search and rescue dog association) dogs in our team. Collie Assynt works with her handler Fiona Henderson while Mollie works with her handler Charlie Macleod. Dogs have an incredibly acute sense of smell and can pick up the scent of a human very quickly. They can cover large distances in all weather with their skilled handlers. They work throughout Scotland, and train with us on a regular basis.
In 2012, during her Jubilee year the Queens Medal was awarded to members of the Assynt Mountain Rescue Team who had served more than five years. Team members are seen here receiving the medal from Chief Inspector Matthew Reiss. From left to right: Fiona Henderson, Martin Hall, Allan Cunningham, Graham McFadyen, CI Matthew Reiss, Bob Kerr, Stewart MacPhail, Jim Sudd, Angus Macleod.
Often we need to access some remote and difficult areas. We value
the support given by estates to transport us by boat, argo or other
means when a helicopter is not appropriate.
We often work with estates in our area when training, using their euqipment and getting to know how we can help each other in times of emergencies.
Much of our rescues are aided by helicopter. The Aeronatical Rescue Co-ordination Centre at RAF Kinloss tasks and co-ordinates all aeronatical SAR activity across the UK. We can be working with the RAF Sea King from Lossiemouth, or the Coastguard Sikorsky s92 based in Stornoway or Lerwick. There is also a RAF Mountain Rescue service operating out of RAF Lossiemouth.
Assynt Mountain Rescue covers many popular hills in Sutherland and
Caithness, from Suilven, Cul Mor and Ben Mor Assynt north to Ben
Klibreck, Ben Hope and Ben Loyal. Although many of the mountains are
not munro's, they are often remote and challenging.
There are also some remote coastlines and sea stacks such as Old Man of Stoer.