All Aboard The Hogwarts Express!
Family of six rescued in Scottish Highlands. Not as you might imagine by a fleet of four by fours or a state of the art air rescue chopper. Instead the Cluett family were picked up by The Jacobite, the iconic steam train that was used in the Harry Potter films as the Hogwarts Express. Jon and Helen Cluett along with their four children – aged six, eight, 10 and 12 – got in to trouble at the Essan bothy (mountain refuge) on the shore of Loch Eilt. As Mr Cluett explains, “You can get to it by quite an arduous walk in – or you can paddle for 10 minutes in a canoe across the loch from the road. We had a canoe so we paddled across the loch to the bothy. We were all in the bothy, warm and fed – all was good – but we’d moored the boat in a little burn behind the bothy, tied it to a wall, pulled high out of the water. My daughter woke up yesterday and says ‘Daddy, Daddy – the stream is massive'”. Mr Cluett added, “The burn was overflowing. The entire area was underwater. The rocks I’d tied the boat to were pulled apart and the boat was gone.” Stranded, the family had to decide whether to trek three miles through boggy ground to get back to their car or follow the railway line which ran nearby. Both options were deemed either too impractical or too dangerous. “In the end I decided the only option was to phone the police and mountain rescue, ask if they have any local knowledge that could help us out,” said Mr Cluett. The police did better than that: they arranged for the next train to pass on the West Highland Railway Line to make an unscheduled stop about 400 metres from the bothy. “The amazing thing was it wasn’t just any train. The next train that was passing was the Jacobite steam train – the Harry Potter, Hogwarts Express steam train that goes up and down that line”, added Mr Cluett. “We threw all our stuff into some bags and boxes and ran out of the door of the bothy at the same time as the train is coming around the tracks. The train is getting closer, we’re running down, stuff bouncing everywhere, big smiles on the kids faces. It all started to be fun at that point.” The train dropped the Cluetts off at the next station at Lochailort from where Mr Cluett was able to get a lift back to the family car. “The kids have certainly had an adventure. We’ve all had an adventure – a big thanks to everyone who helped us.” Not quite job done. For Mr Cluett is still hoping to be reunited with his canoe, “I think it will still be bobbing around in the loch somewhere. A big red canoe – so if you see it, that would be helpful. That would make the last part of the story even better.” A magical ending perhaps?