Britain’s ‘Loneliest Sheep’ is no Longer Alone

Fiona was safely extricated from the foot of cliffs in the Scottish Highlands.

Nov 29, 2023
Britain’s ‘Loneliest Sheep’ is no Longer Alone | Fiona was safely extricated from the foot of cliffs in the Scottish Highlands.

A ewe, dubbed Britain's loneliest sheep, was rescued from her solitary spot on a remote Scottish beach, two years after she was first spotted. She was stranded at the foot of tall cliffs in the Scottish Highlands, reported The Guardian.

Animal welfare groups were trying to find a safe way to extricate her, but deemed it incredibly difficult to do so.  A group of five farmers took the matter into their own hands and the sheep, now named Fiona, is safe and sound.

The incredible rescue

Fionna was first sighted two years ago by Jillian Turner while she was kayaking around the coast of Sutherland. She thought the sheep would find her own way back home. She didn’t think about it until she recently made the same journey and saw the ewe again.

Turner told The Northern Times, about half a mile before turning into the Cromarty Firth we spotted a sheep on a shingle beach at the bottom of some steep, rocky coastline. She saw us coming and was calling to us along the length of the beach following our progress until she could go no further. She finally turned back, looking defeated.”

Afterwards, Turner contacted several animal rescue groups including the Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA), but was told that the sheep was not in any danger. A petition was soon circulated demanding the rescue of the lonely ewe.

After media coverage about Fiona’s plight and seeing negative remarks about her owner who had tried to rescue her previously, Cammy Wilson, a sheep shearer from Ayrshire and a presenter on the BBC’s Landward program decided to take action, reported the BBC. Wilson, along with fellow farmers Graeme Parker, Als Couzens, Ally Williamson and James Parker, organized a rescue attempt.

On November 3, 2023, Wilson brought heavy equipment and was able to bring the ewe  up the incredibly steep slope to safety. Two of the men stayed above to operate a winch while the other three went down to find Fiona. They located her in a cave.

Wilson said that her condition was good but that she was overweight and had massive amounts of fleece. The fleece cushioned Fiona’s ride up the cliff.

While Wilson agreed that many people might think him foolish for endangering his life to rescue the ewe, he stood by his decision. "The only difference between us being heroes and idiots is a slip of the foot," he told BBC. "I would do it again, maybe not tomorrow though because I'm knackered."

Fiona’s forever home

Fiona was moved to Dalscome, a farm park near Dumfries where people will be able to visit her. It was there that she was shorn to remove all the extra wool she was carrying around and she settled in with the other sheep. 

But some animal rescue groups believe she should go to a sanctuary instead, reported National Post.

“We are of course pleased Fiona is no longer stranded, but it is completely unacceptable that she would be taken to a “petting zoo” when she has already suffered for the last two years,” said a spokesperson from a group called Animal Rising. According to the group, a rescue attempt was planned but the farmers beat them to it.

The group claimed that they had an agreement with the landowner that the sheep would be rescued and sent to a sanctuary but he reneged on it.  A protest was held but Fiona seems oblivious to her new-found fame.

While where she lives is contested, the fact is that Fiona has been freed from her lonely existence and is being taken care of in her new home. And that is cause for celebration.

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Bonnie has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.