POLICE have fined two climbers rescued from Ben Nevis for breaking lockdown restrictions.
The pair were rescued by Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team and the Inverness-based Coastguard helicopter after getting into trouble on the peak – only to each be handed £60 Covid penalties by Police Scotland later.
The men had travelled more than 100 miles from the Glasgow area to tackle Britain’s highest mountain.
They got into difficulty in Minus Two Gully on Saturday and police were alerted at about 16:15.
Inverness Coastguard search and rescue helicopter flew the men off the mountain.
Members of Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team were called on to assist in the rescue in an operation that lasted about 90 minutes.
Coronavirus Scotland: Men fined for breaching travel rules
A total of 20 members of the rescue team and the Inverness-based Coastguard helicopter were involved in the rescue.
The two climbers were recovered safely around 5.45pm and flown to Fort William.
It was the first of two incidents in a matter of hours the rescue team – their first call outs of the year – and a rescue helicopter crew.
Police Scotland said: “There were no injuries and both were issued with fixed penalty notices for breaching coronavirus regulations.”
All mainland Scotland, along with the Western Isles, are under Scotland’s toughest level four restrictions.
By law, people can only leave home for an essential purpose.
As the helicopter was returning to base about 6.15pm, it was alerted to help with the rescue of another two climbers on Creag Meagaidh.
Another 20 members of Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team were airlifted onto the mountain and the men, who were not injured, were helped to safety by around 11pm.
It is believed they were experienced local climbers and no Covid regulations were broken.
On Friday Police Scotland revealed it had received nearly 50 calls to help Covidiots in the countryside in the last two months.
A total of six fixed penalty notices have been issued and six people charged with culpable and reckless conduct in that time.
Hillwalkers and people visiting beauty spots were urged to conduct outdoor recreation in line with government regulations.
Officers say the public must ensure they are prepared for all eventualities following a number of recent mountain rescue incidents in Scotland.
They said the police’s three mountain rescue teams recently attended a number of incidents where people have travelled outside their local authority areas and required assistance “due to ill-preparedness”.
In one case, four men from Midlothian travelled to Crianlarich in one vehicle to climb Ben More.
They had to be talked off the hill via phone and text from police and mountain rescue team, and also required ambulance assistance.