Hillwalker who plunged 100ft on Scots mountain saved after 'becoming human bouncy ball'

Neil Gregor, 54

A uni professor's life was saved in a terrifying mountain plunge - when he became a human bouncing ball. Neil Gregor, 54, amazingly cheated death after 100-foot fall in the Highlands.

The Professor of Modern European History at the University of Southampton was left in agony with a broken wrist, vertebrae and ribs, and was unable to move. But because he bounced down the mountain like a ball, it broke his fall and saved him from being killed.

A keen climber, Neil, of Richmond Park, Otterbourne, Hants, had hiked up Beinn Eighe in the Northwest Highlands when he lost his footing and tumbled 100 feet.

"I bounced four or five times - a couple of times on my head" he told the Hampshire Chronicle. "I'm very, very lucky. It could have ended very, very differently."

Neil and his walking partner, Matt Kelly, 49, from Northumbria, had finished their ascent and were hiking down when the incident happened on June 25.

Neil Gregor heated death after 100-foot fall -Credit:NEIL GREGOR/ WESSEX NEWS AGENCY
Neil Gregor heated death after 100-foot fall -Credit:NEIL GREGOR/ WESSEX NEWS AGENCY

"We were very much at the end of our walk on this peak and just about to head down for a beer, and I just lost my footing. I had a tumble and fell about 100 feet down a scree gully."

As an experienced walker, luckily he was well-equipped.

"I was carrying a tracer with me. If you have an accident you can call for help and they can locate you."

The Torridon Mountain Rescue team sent a helicopter out, but conditions were less than ideal.

"We were very near the top of this mountain so it was very hard for the mountain rescue to get to us. It was so cloudy that they couldn 't see us from the helicopter.

"They had to leave a crew halfway down the mountain, who then walked up to us. We could hear the helicopter flying away, which was a bit discouraging.

"They got to us at about 10pm. We had been there for about five hours already - they then spent a couple of hours preparing me to be air-lifted out on this stretcher thing.

"I don 't know about scary. We are both quite calm people. We knew we would be rescued."

A uni professor's life was saved in a terrifying montain plunge -Credit:MATT KELLY/ WESSEX NEWS AGENCY
A uni professor's life was saved in a terrifying montain plunge -Credit:MATT KELLY/ WESSEX NEWS AGENCY

After he had been airlifted to safety, he spent three days in hospital and a few more convalescing at a friend's house in Scotland before travelling home. He is overwhelmed with gratitude to the Torridon Mountain Rescue team, who worked until past midnight to lift him out of danger.

Neil wants to encourage anyone interested to donate to the team on the Just Giving page he has set up, which had an original target of £3,000 and already has £3,662.

He posted on it: "In the late afternoon of 25th June I suffered a very serious fall at the Black Carls pinnacles section of the Beinn Eighe traverse in the Torridon hills, tumbling about 100ft down a steep scree gully. Alongside a good dose of luck I owe the positive outcome to a number of things - we carried satellite location equipment, survival equipment, and my companion was calm and collected throughout.

"Most of all, however, I owe it to the combined work of the Torridon Mountain Rescue Team and the Stornoway Coastguard, who worked on dangerously steep and unstable terrain, and in difficult cloudy conditions, to make me safe and, eventually, to winch me off the hill and on to hospital around midnight. I am left with several fractures and am every shade of black and blue known to humankind, but I also know that it could have been much, much worse.

"Torridon Mountain Rescue Team relies entirely on donations. It is currently seeking to raise £12,000 for two new stretchers in order for the team to be fully operational at all times, and I would very much like to help them out with a good chunk towards one of them by way of a 'thank you'. It would mean a great deal to me if you could donate a couple of quid to support the work of this remarkable team."

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