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'The car disappeared': Shropshire couple caught in mudslide terror

By Sue Austin | Oswestry | News | Published: | Last Updated:

A Shropshire couple escaped death when a huge mudslide brought boulders and trees crashing down a Scottish mountainside onto their holiday cottage.

Kirsty Brooke and Emily Jervis had to be rescued after a mudslide at their holiday cottage

Kirsty Brooke and Emily Jervis, from Oswestry, spent 12 hours unable to summon help.

With no power, water or phone signal, they and a dozen other holidaymakers spent the night not knowing whether more debris would come down the hillside or how long they would be cut off.

With the approach road cut off by the mudslide, rescuers had to reach them by boat.

They said that had the mudslide happened in the night they would have died in their beds.

Isolated

Kirsty, 37, and Emily, 31, had gone to Glengyle, above Loch Katrine in the northern Trossachs, on August 3 for Emily’s birthday, taking their Irish setter, Harry, with them.

They were staying in one of the historic Glengyle cottages, above Glengyle House, the birthplace of Scottish outlaw Rob Roy.

“It was very isolated but a beautiful, stunning place and on the Sunday we went out walking before the rain set in,” Kirsty said.

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The couple were staying at Glengyle Cottages in the Trossachs

“We then had a power cut in the late afternoon and water was just pouring down the hill.

"We decided to put on our waterproofs and take Harry out. But as I went to go out I looked up towards the top of the hill and I saw what I could only describe as trees swaying and a rolling motion.

"I ran back in and shut the patio door just as a wave of water crashed down, picked the car up and moved it about 10 metres.

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The wreckage of the car after the mudslide

“A second wave brought boulders, branches and other debris down and the car disappeared.”

Trapped

Emily said the force of the mudslide shattered the bedroom window at the back of the end-of-terrace cottage and mud and rocks started coming into the house.

“The patio through which we had been going in and out was blocked and we hadn’t yet discovered where the key was for the front door so we were scared we were trapped,” Emily said.

They then heard the other holidaymakers trying to break in to help them and they eventually found the key to escape.

Part of the mudslide

“The debris had come straight through the middle cottage. There were other couples and a family who had two young children and elderly parents,” said Kirsty.

Help came in the form of another holidaymaker who had been staying in the bothey above the cottages and had managed to escape down to the loch side.

“He looked up and saw the second wave of debris and thought there was no way we could have survived,” Emily said.

"He told us he made his way back up the hill expecting to find bodies."

Glad to be home - Kirsty, Emily and Harry the dog

The serving soldier led the terrified party down to the loch as night fell.

Some were able to take refuge in a nearby house but Kirsty, Emily and another visitor with a dog sought refuge in a wood shed with their pets.

Watching and waiting

Worried about the rising water some of the party decided to return uphill and take refuge in the cottage least affected by the debris.

"We turned off our phones to conserve the power as we didn't have any signal, rationed the few bottles of water we had and sat it out overnight, keeping watch and listening for sounds of another mudslide.

"The gas tank that supplied heating had been ripped over its concrete block and we realised afterwards had crashed down into the loch."

Trees, rocks and debris in the mudslide

The couple said that when dawn broke about 4.30am three of the party walked about three miles to get a phone signal.

"Help first arrived in the form of a police officer in a kayak, coming across the loch," Emily said.

"He told us it was too dangerous to remain at the cottage and led us back down to the loch where we were picked up by mountain rescue volunteers in a boat.

"The emergency services were absolutely incredible. We were taken to the Pier Cafe where staff fed us and helped us get warm and then a wonderful local lady called Marina brought us spare clothes. We lost absolutely everything."

The couple have also praised Stirling Council which gave them emergency supplies and put them up in accommodation at the university for two nights until Kirsty's parents could drive up from Oswestry and take them home.

Sue Austin

By Sue Austin
Chief Reporter

Chief reporter of the Oswestry/Mid Wales office. Keen to hear your news.

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