Students lost on Cairngorms in bin liners 'lucky to be alive'

Rising from the edge of a forest in the heart of the Cairngorms, the heather-clad slopes of Meall a' Bhuachaille provide views of some of the most spectacular scenery in the world.

Rising from the edge of a forest in the heart of the Cairngorms, the heather-clad slopes of Meall a' Bhuachaille provide views of some of the most spectacular scenery in the world.

However, the Corbett peak, which takes its name from the Gaelic for "hill of the cowherd", is dangerously deceptive, as a party of English students and their teacher found to their cost on Wednesday.

The 40-strong team of 16- and 17-year-olds and their teacher were criticised by rescuers who found them lost, wearing summer clothes and trainers and wrapped in black binliners to ward off the rain on the misty slopes of the mountain.

Without a compass or a map, the group from the Beth Jacob Teacher's Training Seminary in east London broke almost every rule in the mountaineering handbook as they took to the slopes late in the afternoon.

According to locals, they had ignored advice and set off up the 810m-high mountain wearing their school uniform and carrying the binliners to protect against the weather.

Yesterday, rescuers who guided the group down said that the teenagers were lucky not to have been killed.

John Allen, the leader of the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team, said: "They were scattered all over the hill and, with that number, they were lucky there were no fatalities as they were already disoriented and would probably have begun to panic.

"We are normally not judgemental in these things but I think they broke every rule in the mountaineering book that was ever written," said Mr Allen, who has had more than 25 years experience dealing with rescues of all kinds in the mountains. He added: "I mean that sincerely and it is not often that I would say that. They were completely out of their depth and did not seem to take on board the seriousness of the situation. It is one of the worst, if not the worst, cases that I have come across of a group being ill-prepared going on to the mountains."

Inspector Steven Campbell of Grampian Police added: "It was very, very foolhardy to take such a large group who were so inexperienced on such an arduous trip. If the weather had deteriorated any more there could easily have been fatalities." A larger group from the college initially started on the walk but 17 students and three teachers turned back as bad weather descended, leaving just one teacher looking after the 40 remaining girls.

After getting lost, the teacher borrowed a mobile phone from one of the girls in the party to call for help but, because of her lack of equipment, could not give the rescue services details of her position.

Despite the best efforts of emergency services to talk the group down off the slopes, the problems of maintaining a clear telephone signal meant that 10 local volunteers from the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team had to set out after them.

"On this occasion our normal procedures governing school trips were not in place," said Rabbi Benyomin Dunner, head of the Beth Jacob Seminary for Girls, who claimed that the incident had been a "difficult time" for all involved.

"We apologise to parents and pupils and will be holding an immediate internal inquiry.

"We are also very grateful to the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team for their help, it was they who ensured that nothing more serious occurred."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Voices
Ed Miliband and David Cameron are neck and neck in the polls
election 2015Armando Iannucci: on how British politics is broken
News
i100
Life and Style
Great minds like Einstein don't think alike
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: IT Support Engineer - Leeds

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Support Engineer - Leeds This i...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Bristol

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power