A 24-year-old German tourist had a lucky escape after getting lost in the dark atop the Slieve League Cliffs.
The woman and her boyfriend were visiting the area for the first time, and camping out near the car park at Bunglass.
Brian Murray, PRO of Donegal Mountain Rescue, told the Donegal Democrat/People’s Press that the pair had been hiking along the Pilgrim’s Path in the evening.
“The man decided to go back to the car park but the woman wanted to stay on for a bit and take a few more pictures.
“The young woman overestimated how much daylight was left and, when darkness fell, she lost her bearings.
“She didn’t have a torch and so tried to follow some lights she saw, which I believe were the lights from Teelin. This brought her into dangerous territory, about 3km from her last known location.
“It was quite wet out but she had a sleeping bag with her.
“Her boyfriend, who had a torch, was searching for her for a couple of hours. When he had exhausted his search, he returned to the car park so that he could get a signal on his phone and rang 999.
“We got the alert at 9.45pm and called out our full team. As the potential search area was so big, we also asked Sligo Mountain Rescue to help out and Killybegs Cliff and Rescue Coast Guard also took part in the search, as the area is part of their territory. Local gardaí also helped, searching the roads and ditches. In all, there were about 40 people out searching.
“The Sligo Rescue helicopter was not available, due to a technical fault, and we had asked the Shannon helicopter to be on standby.
“At around 12.30am, one of the Killybegs Coast Guard units spotted a light. It turned out that the young woman had seen the torches of the search parties and she used the light from her phone to attract attention.
“We had been trying to contact her, but she was out of coverage.
“Fortunately, even though it was very wet, visibility was quite good. If it had been the normal misty, closed in conditions that we get in bad weather, the phone wouldn’t have been any use to her and it might have been morning before we found her.
“She was cold, wet and upset, and she had a minor ankle injury from the previous day, but didn’t require any medical attention apart from to be warmed up and fed.
“The young couple had never visited the area before so they didn’t know the risks.
“They were reunited at about 1.30am at the Slieve League Cultural Centre. Our team members got to their homes around 2.30am.
“We would like to thank everyone who took part in this search, which had such a quick and happy resolution.
“We would also like to remind everyone to be aware that conditions can change very, very quickly when you’re up on cliffs or mountains. Nightfall, rain, mist can all come upon you much more quickly than you think and it is vital that you allow for this.”