Britain's loneliest sheep in 'life or death situation' before being rescued

"Britain's loneliest sheep" was in a "life and death situation" before being rescued, one of the farmers who retrieved her has said.

Cammy Wilson said the "major welfare concern" for the ewe, who had been stranded on a stretch of shingle beach at the bottom of a cliff for three years, was the "sheer weight of wool on her back".

Along with four other men from Scotland's farming community, they winched Fiona, as she is now known, up the hillside on the Cromarty Firth on Saturday, buying a couple of strong ropes as they journeyed to their destination.

Getting her up to the top of the cliff involved maneuvering her around "rocks and bushes and trees".

Fiona had about an acre of grass to herself in the Scottish Highlands, and is slightly overweight.

That, combined with her heavy coat, would eventually have pushed her off her feet, Mr Wilson said.

Had she rolled onto her back, she could have suffocated after struggling to get up.

'Farmers were desperate to rescue her'

Mr Wilson said he was motivated to rescue the ewe after seeing negative comments on social media, claiming "farmers don't care" and were "just letting this sheep whither away and die down there".

"That wasn't the case at all," he said. "The farmers do care. It was just an extremely treacherous position this sheep was in, extremely dangerous."

Mr Wilson contacted the farmer Fiona belonged to, who sent him drone shots of the terrain.

Another of the rescuers, Graeme Parker, said the farmer was "desperate" to rescue Fiona but did not know what to do.

Mr Wilson said it "wasn't a life or death situation until her wool got as long as it did".

'She floated up on a cloud of wool'

During the rescue, Fiona was placed in a "very strong canvas feed sack", in which a hole was cut to enable her to breathe.

Mr Wilson told Sky News: "Three of us kept hold of the bag and navigated the bag as we went.

"We were on the phone to the other two boys at the top, and kept maneuvering her around rocks and bushes and trees until we got her safely to the top without a scratch on her."

In the event, her long coat helped her rescue. "She had three years of wool on her, and that essentially meant she floated up on a cloud - it was like she was wrapped in a mattress," Mr Wilson said.

Fiona remained very calm on the way up, even nibbling some grass on the way, Mr Wilson said.

Fiona now 'in incredible condition'

She has now been shorn by hand, with a couple of inches of wool left behind because it is November and getting chilly.

And she is doing well.

"In sheep terms, she's in incredible condition," Mr Wilson said.

It appears she was less than a year old when she got stranded, and either fell down the cliff or walked down.

She will now be rehomed at Dalscone Farm Fun in Dumfries.

Reflecting on their adventure, Mr Wilson said: "Sometimes you just need a group of idiots to get the job done.

"And we had five idiots that got away with it. We got this sheep out without anybody getting hurt.

"It was just pure luck, to be fair."