A sheepdog that got stranded at the bottom of a cliff at North Roe sparked a full-scale rescue by Shetland Coastguard yesterday – but emerged none the worse for his adventure.
Owner Andrew Nicolson from Ollaberry was gathering sheep at the south side of Fethaland around 11.30am with some friends and their dogs when his border collie, Fleck, made a getaway. Mr Nicolson realised he was missing and said: “I whistled but he didn’t come back. But I could hear him bark. I said: ‘Poor Fleck, he must have gone over the cliff’.”
Nine-year-old Fleck had plunged around 75 feet in a narrow geo. Fortunately the tide was high and he is assumed to have landed in the water, saving him from the rocks. But the cliff was so steep he could not make his way back up.
Mr Nicolson could not see him and, leaving the others to work with the sheep, made his way to higher ground to get a signal to phone 999. The coastguard then mustered coastal rescue teams from Hillswick, Lerwick and Burra to make their way to the remote scene, telling Mr Nicolson not to attempt a rescue.
Using their rescue equipment, the coastguard deployed one of their team over the cliff. He found Fleck, by this time sheltering safely on a ledge. Within 15 minutes Fleck was rescued and enjoying a doggie treat from one of the rescue team.
Mr Nicolson said: “He came out absolutely unmarked, I couldn’t believe it. He was full of beans, just his normal self. He had a very lucky escape.”
A coastguard spokesman said it would not have been possible to carry out a rescue by sea, and added: “The coastal rescue teams are well experienced and the owner was glad of a successful outcome.”
* For more, see this week’s Shetland Times.