Resc-ewed: Britain's loneliest sheep saved from shoreline

A ewe that was dubbed Britain's loneliest sheep has been rescued from a remote shore in the Scottish Highlands.

The sheep, now named Fiona, had been stranded at the foot of cliffs on the Cromarty Firth for at least two years.

An animal welfare charity had said any attempts to rescue her would be "incredibly complex".

But a group of five farmers have now managed to haul her up a steep slope. They plan to shear her overgrown fleece and hand her over to a farm park.

The rescue mission was organised by Cammy Wilson, a sheep shearer from Ayrshire, after seeing media coverage of the ewe's plight.

Mr Wilson, who is a presenter on the BBC's Landward programme, organised the rescue in a personal capacity along with four others.

Speaking in a video posted on Facebook, he said: "We've come up here with some heavy equipment and we've got this sheep up an incredibly steep slope.

"She's in incredible condition. She is about a condition score of about 4.5, she is overfat - it was some job lifting her up that slope.

"She is going to a very special place that a lot of you know very well, where you'll be able to see her virtually every day."

Mr Wilson later told BBC News he became determined to rescue the sheep after reading unfair comments about the farmer whose flock she came from.

He said the farmer had made previous attempts to retrieve her but was unable to do so without putting himself or his employees in danger.

He said: "I just hated seeing the misinformation online, the comments from people not in the know about 'farmers don't care.'

"People were starting to show up on his land and it wasn't fair."

Found in a cave

He said he anticipated some people would criticise his rescue mission as foolhardy, and he accepted it was risky.

"The only difference between us being heroes and idiots is a slip of the foot," he said.

"I would do it again, maybe not tomorrow though because I'm knackered."

He was joined in the rescue by fellow farmers Graeme Parker, Als Couzens, Ally Williamson and James Parker.

Two of them stayed at the top to operate a winch while three others were lowered 250m (820ft) down the cliff to reach Fiona.

They found her in a cave.

The sheep's plight became headline news after she was pictured stranded on a shore in the Highlands.

The Scottish SPCA said it had been aware of the ewe being stranded at the bottom of the cliff for some time but was unable to find a safe way to rescue her.

A spokesperson for the charity said: "This morning the Scottish SPCA were in attendance at the hillside after they were made aware that a group of individuals with climbing expertise were attempting to rescue the stranded sheep by descending down to where she was trapped.

"The team brought the ewe up successfully and our inspector examined her.

"Thankfully the sheep is in good bodily condition, aside from needing to be sheared. She will now be taken to a specialist home within Scotland to rest and recover."

Mr Wilson said Fiona would receive a much-needed groom in the coming days.

The sheep made national headlines after a kayaker took a photograph and shared concerns about her welfare.

Jill Turner, from Brora, told the Northern Times she first came across the ewe while kayaking in 2021.

She was shocked to discover she was still there two years later, and pleaded for someone to rescue her.

A petition calling for a rescue operation has gathered more than 52,000 signatures.

The full story of the rescue will be told on the BBC's Landward programme, due to broadcast on the BBC Scotland channel on 16 November and BBC One Scotland the following day.