Britain’s loneliest sheep has been sheared by volunteers who launched a mission to rescue her after she spent two years trapped on a rocky beach.
The ewe, which has been named Fiona, is now ‘safe and well’ and was taken to a Scottish farm park after she was rescued by a group of five farmers, led by sheep shearer Cammy Wilson.
Rescuers used a winch mounted on a truck parked at the top of the cliff, 200m of rope and a feed bag fashioned into a makeshift sling to carry the sheep to safety in what was described as an ‘epic’ mission.
Speaking to Sky News following the rescue Mr Wilson said Fiona is now ‘looking a lot lighter than she did yesterday’ after her overgrown coat was sheered off.
He added that she is ‘in tremendous health’ after being checked over by The Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and even joked ‘you would almost say she’s overweight’.
Britain’s loneliest sheep (pictured at the farm after the rescue) was rescued by a group of five volunteers after she spending two years trapped on a rocky beach
The sheep, named Fiona (pictured after being sheared), has now been sheared by the group of farmers that saved her
The group of five farmers, led by sheep shearer Cammy Wilson (pictured far left) who rescued Fiona from the rocky beach
Fiona, who spent the last two years stuck off the north east coast of Scotland, has been looked over by health inspectors, the Sun reported.
She is now being cared for at Dalscone Farm in Dumfries.
The animal was first spotted by kayaker Jillian Turner back in 2021, who returned to the same place this year to find the ewe still there.
She said she was astonished that Fiona had ‘made it through all weathers’ and seemed ‘desperate to make contact with us’ when she passed.
Her fleece had grown so long that it could hardly stand up.
The rescue was led by Ayrshire farmer Cammy Wilson who was moved by pictures of the sheep standing forlornly beside the sea.
Ms Turner, of Brora, Sutherland, said she assumed it would manage to make its way up the rocky cliff.
But when she returned to the remote area last month she was horrified to see the animal was still trapped and, after taking pictures to highlight its plight, she appealed for help.
Mr Wilson and his team – Graeme Parker, James Parker, Als Couzens and Ally Williamson – responded and despite the perilous terrain they were determined to free the sheep.
Fiona spent the last two years stuck off the north east coast of Scotland
Two of the rescuers Cammy Wilson (L) and Als Couzens are pictured with Fiona, the sheep which has been saved
The group used a winch mounted on a truck parked at the top of the cliff, 200m of rope and a feed bag fashioned into a makeshift sling to carry the sheep to safety
During the operation, two of the men stayed at the top to operate the winch while three others were lowered 250m down the steep descent where they found Fiona in a cave.
They then secured Fiona into a large feed sack that had been fashioned into an improvised sling and guided her up the cliff in a highly dangerous ascent.
Once they reached the top, Fiona was placed into a farm pick-up truck and driven to safety, apparantly with her health none the worse.
The rescue party decided to name the sheep after a character from the animated film Shrek who marries a princess called Fiona.
Mr Wilson explained: ‘There was a sheep called Shrek in Australia that was living in caves for years so this is the Scottish version.’
How Fiona came to be on the beach is a mystery, as local farmers do not own any sheep of the same breed.
One farmer was able to provide vital drone footage of the cliffs to allow the men to plot their rescue.
Fiona also played her part in the rescue. Mr Wilson explained: ‘She was so chill, it was unbelievable.
‘I was amazed by how relaxed this sheep was; no panting or panic.
‘It was almost as though she thought ‘Get me out of here.’ It’s rare a sheep acts like that.’ He described the most nerve-wracking part as a 15m near-vertical section where they worried the bag carrying Fiona would tear.
Fiona was first discovered in 2021 by kayaker Jillian Turner, who returned to the spot near Balinore this year to find the animal still there, with her fleece overgrown
The rescue party decided to name the sheep after a character from the animated film Shrek who marries a princess called Fiona
Mr Wilson said: ‘If we lost the bag we were in a spot. We’d have been there most of the day trying to get another one or another plan. Thankfully it held and we got her past the worst bit. Then it was a steady climb while being careful.
‘In hindsight, luck was the key factor of the day. It was great to come out with no mistakes and the sheep being happy and healthy… because the stress could have killed her. Thankfully she was totally relaxed.’
The team had contacted the Scottish SPCA to monitor the rescue and check the sheep’s condition.
Fiona has now been transported to her new home some 270 miles south at Dalscone Farm animal park in Dumfries.
Mr Wilson said: ‘I’m friendly with farmer Ben Best at Dalscone and he was happy to re-home her and make her part of his unique, incredible flock of animals.’
A Scottish SPCA spokesman said: ‘A group with climbing expertise were attempting the rescue by descending down to where the sheep was trapped. This is not something our inspectorate have the equipment to do, so we were not involved in the rescue itself.
‘The team brought the ewe up and our inspector examined her.
‘Thankfully the sheep is in good condition, aside from needing to be sheared. We are delighted the sheep is safe and well, ready to start her new life.’
A Change.org petition, set up by Londoner Edoardo L’Astorina, calling for Fiona’s rescue amassed over 55,000 signatures.