Woman rescued 50 years ago after Wester Ross falls plunge says thank you with mountain rescue donation
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A woman who plunged 200ft over cliffs in Wester Ross more than 50 years ago has surprised rescuers with a £5000 cheque out of the blue.
Rosie McCusker (nee Horder) “missed death on the surrounding rocks by only a few feet” when she slipped at the Falls of Glomach in Kintail, according to press reports from the time.
Her brother Robin recalled with horror watching “the sole of her wellies disappearing over the edge”.
Miraculously, she landed in a pool of water and only sustained an injured hand.
Now, modern-day members of Kintail Mountain Rescue Team (KMRT) have thanked the Horder family – who are originally from Ayr – after they sent a cheque for £5000 in memory of their late father to “honour the brave people who venture out” in all weathers.
The donation also recognised those mountain rescue volunteers that came to the family’s aid on the fateful Sunday in the summer of 1973.
The family recently wrote to the team to share the story of the terrifying incident – and it is clear from what they said that the memories of that day still remain vivid and haunting half a century later.
Robin, Charlie, Rosie and Nick – all aged between 13 and 8 at the time – went for a walk to the Falls of Glomach with their parents, David and Rachel, while on holiday in the area.
As the trail got steeper and more precipitous, 11-year-old Rosie slipped. Nick remembers hearing Rosie’s scream over the roar of the waterfalls, and Robin recalls: “I watched her slide head-first down a few meters of grass wishing, hoping, assuming - in vain - that she would stop.
“The image of the sole of her wellies disappearing over the edge remains vivid 50 years later.”
Rosie landed in a pool of water 200ft below, and managed to pull herself out of the water and onto a ledge. She bound her hand in a scarf but David’s attempts to scramble down into the gorge to reach his daughter were unsuccessful.
His only option was a long run down the glen to raise the alarm.
More than 40 mountain rescue volunteers were involved in a nine-hour rescue operation, in which Rosie was hauled up to a stretcher, from where she could be carried down the glen to an ambulance.
Team leader at the time, Murdo Cameron, described it as one of the most difficult rescues the team had ever tackled.
Rosie, who was taken to Raigmore Hospital where she received treatment – and further press attention – said: “I can only imagine how hard that must have been for Dad, leaving his 11 year old, cold, wet and scared.”
Charlie added that “this was now a job for KMRT, whose precision and skill we, as a family, will be grateful for forever”.
Nick recalls the long and terrifying wait for help to arrive. He said: “We clung to the side of the cliff for what seemed like ages”. When help arrived, two mountain rescue volunteers were able to climb down into the gorge to reach Rosie and bring her out on their back and 10 other rescuers used ropes to haul her up to the waiting stretcher, before a long carry down to the waiting ambulance, and on to hospital in Inverness.
Fifty years later and now living in Texas, Rosie added: “I just want to express gratitude from our family for saving my life and to raise awareness for the work of mountain rescue.
“As a volunteer organisation, I’d like to honour the brave people who venture out when called and put their own lives at risk while spending time away from their own families.”
The National Trust for Scotland added warning signs close to the gorge after the incident, which are still maintained to this day.
KMRT thanked the Horder family for the donation and for sharing the story of their dramatic day over half a century ago. The team relies on donations, which can be made at www.kintailmrt.org.uk, to fund its operations.
Kintail MRT leader Lara Hinde said: “We’re immensely grateful to the family for this donation which will help us purchase essential equipment.
“The story of this rescue is a testament to the tradition of volunteers from across the local community coming together to help those in need in the hills.
“The Horders’ generous donation will help make sure that this tradition continues - assisted by access to 21st century communications and technical gear.”
During that summer of 1973, a division had opened within the Kintail team, resulting in some members splitting from the team to form a separate Glenelg Mountain Rescue Team. Despite this, on that Sunday in 1973, rescue volunteers from the two communities came together to rescue Rosie from the falls.
A share of the donation has therefore been passed to the Glenelg MRT in recognition of the important contribution made by the members of the Glenelg community to the rescue.