UK UK - Neil Skinner, 72, last seen midday, camping close Loch Dochard, Scottish Highlands, 8 May 2022

annpats

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I thought his 2 other hiking buddies had only left him for a few hours while they went onwards.....I didn't realise they were wild camping at another place overnight, and wouldn't return to the original wild camping place the next day!

To leave Neil for that long by himself isn't nice, but maybe he insisted the 2 others go on?

If Neil was supposed to go on this hike with them, he would've also taken his tent with him, but as he turned back (due to not feeling up to it) he would've had his tent with him, so could've pitched it anywhere, and I'm wondering how far his walking poles and food (oats) were discovered from the tent.

I wonder if he began to feel worse, or got bored and listless and there was a chance he tried to hike the 6 miles back to the car park near the village, where their car was left originally?

If so, why did he leave his trekking poles and food behind? These are the 2 things that would have helped him and been almost necessary. It makes me wonder if he was confused, due to dehydration, cold, illness, etc.

MOO.
 

orbtastic

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He was on a planned 5 day hike/walk with two friends, who he has been walking with lots of times previously.

He decided after the first day he was feeling tired and pitched up his tent. They carried on walking and then day or so after they turned back and ended up back at his tent.

He wasn't there but all his stuff was - wallet, keys, phone, charger/battery, waterproofs.

He had a long, long history of getting lost, ever since I was a child (so going back 50 years). His sense of direction was always appalling. He would always compound it by refusing to ask for directions and carrying on further when he should have turned back. We got lost on holiday once and were gone for hours! He once got us lost on a sponsored walk that had a marked trail with volunteers giving directions. We ended up finishing AFTER pensioner aged nuns and disabled people.

He got lost last year on a walking trip to Skye and the helicopters were out. he laughed it off but it was a serious wake-up call if ever there was one. Luckily the chopper spotted him but he was missing for over five hours.

As to why his friends left him, who knows. They have steadfastly refused to speak to the family and when police asked them why, they said that they didn't want to get in the way. The have co-operated with Police and they are satisfied. They didn't ask for a single update which we found odd but they couldn't have got updates from anyone else because only my sister was allowed to speak directly to the Police as next of kin.

The Police have done all they can - had dogs out, corpse dogs, choppers, divers in the loch, walkers endlessly walking etc. They have found zero trace and a month or so ago one of the dogs showed some interest for the first time since searching but it turned to nothing.

He didn't drive up there, his friends did. He doesn't have a car and doesn't drive any more (thankfully).

As to why he hasn't been found, see above. He would have got up early, gone for a walk and then got lost (as he has many, many times in the past) and because he has no map (refused to use maps on phone and complete technophobe, no signal anyway for GPS) he would have just compounded his misery and kept walking. His body will be miles away from where he was walking because he has no visual reference point to where his tent is once he got lost and there's no markers or visual markers on the horizon or anything to "aim" for.

They searched the area near the car park where the car was left (they at least gave him the spare key) and haven't found anything there either.
 

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trendsetter

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There are some interesting bits of information here:
"Mr Skinner was captured on CCTV on May 7 at the Green Welly Stop in Tyndrum. He and his friends then parked their car at Victoria Bridge before hiking six miles to the banks of Loch Dochard, where they camped for the night." The following day (the 8th May) he started on a hike with his friends to Loch Etive (some 10km to the west) but returned to the camp at Loch Dochard some 90 minutes into the trip because it "was too much for him". When his friends returned the following day they found only his tent with his walking poles, phone and wallet.

I think that the reference in this story to "a fellow walker who passed his tent" is fanciful speculation for which there is no evidence.
 
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OrangeCash

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There are some interesting bits of information here:
"Mr Skinner was captured on CCTV on May 7 at the Green Welly Stop in Tyndrum. He and his friends then parked their car at Victoria Bridge before hiking six miles to the banks of Loch Dochard, where they camped for the night." The following day (the 8th May) he started on a hike with his friends to Loch Etive (some 10km to the west) but returned to the camp at Loch Dochard some 90 minutes into the trip because it "was too much for him". When his friends returned the following day they found only his tent with his walking poles, phone and wallet.

I was just about to say Neil must have been well enough to make it back to camp and set up the tent properly as his friends found it there when they returned. But I might not be reading it properly - was this campsite a sort of reference point or checkpoint to return back to? So you might set up your main tent there, then go off hiking wherever you like and return back the next day or longer if you decided to hike somewhere longer? I'm not a hiker so I'm not sure how it all works.
If that was the case, and Neil made it back to the tent that was already set up, he must have put his belongings back in the tent, but then gone elsewhere. Why? If Neil returned because 'it was too much for him' did this mean he just wasn't up to it as he'd aged and couldn't keep up as he used to? Or was he not feeling well medically? If he was ill, maybe he went to find help from another hiker at the site, but surely he couldn't go far as he was ill and left his walking poles and phone. But he hasn't been found in the immediate area like you'd assume if that was the case, so that makes me wonder if him being medically ill also affected his cognition, making him confused and walking further away, possibly even towards water?
 

trendsetter

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One of the many things we don't know is how long they were planning to stay. Everything they would need would have to be carried on their backs - tents, sleeping bags, food, spare clothing etc. The car was parked at Bridge of Orchy which is quite a hike to start with so I doubt that they would be popping back and forth to fetch things. My guess is that the main camp would be at Loch Dochard and a tent would be left there with all those things (e.g. food, clothing) that they wouldn't need for the Loch Etive trip - maybe they intended to bivvy in the open overnight at Loch Etive so didn't even bother to take a tent (but that would depend very much on the weather).

I think that for the Loch Etive trip they would have taken the path that leaves Loch Dochard in a SW direction and carried on through Glen Kinglass. If Neil turned back after 90 minutes he would have just about reached Glenkinglass Lodge (which I estimate is about 3 km from Loch Dochard).

Was there any evidence that Neil had spent the night (8th - 9th) at the camp?
 

orbtastic

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They planned a 5 day hike as I said above. Wild camping each night.

There was no camp per se - he pitched his tent a day or so from the car park because they decided to walk on.

They left him with 5 days food, stove etc, planning to pick him on their way back. They then decided the weather was too bad a day later and came back to find an empty tent.

There's a pile of rocks marking where the tent was as the police have all his stuff (still).
 

orbtastic

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>>I think that the reference in this story to "a fellow walker who passed his tent" is fanciful speculation for which there is no evidence.

No, that is what the police told us. Several people came forward. Another said they had seen him elsewhere.
 

Sillybilly

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Good morning everyone,

I'm very sorry this notification is late but @orbtastic has been verified as a family member of Neil's. As a VI, they do not have to provide supporting links to whatever they state as fact about the case.

Hearts go out to you orbtastic, and thank you for being here to discuss your father's disappearance. And thanks to everyone else for being here to try to help find out whatever has happened to this dear man.

Sillybilly
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orbtastic

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Newspapers get things wrong and make mistakes. That article quoted above is wrong. He didn’t go back to camp. There was no camp. He pitched up where they left him which is on the bank near the loch. Marked by a pile of rocks. We are going up there next year to put something more permanent.
 

annpats

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@orbtastic

Do you think while the other two went on their expedition, Neil began to feel a bit better and more capable, so went off on a small hike or short walk while they were gone?
Is it possible he could have become disorientated in the terrain there? Lots of woods etc? Is that possible?
 

WingsOverTX

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@orbtastic

Do you think while the other two went on their expedition, Neil began to feel a bit better and more capable, so went off on a small hike or short walk while they were gone?
Is it possible he could have become disorientated in the terrain there? Lots of woods etc? Is that possible?
Answered earlier in thread by VI: "He had a long, long history of getting lost, ever since I was a child (so going back 50 years). His sense of direction was always appalling. He would always compound it by refusing to ask for directions and carrying on further when he should have turned back. We got lost on holiday once and were gone for hours! He once got us lost on a sponsored walk that had a marked trail with volunteers giving directions."

From this post:
He was on a planned 5 day hike/walk with two friends, who he has been walking with lots of times previously.

He decided after the first day he was feeling tired and pitched up his tent. They carried on walking and then day or so after they turned back and ended up back at his tent.

He wasn't there but all his stuff was - wallet, keys, phone, charger/battery, waterproofs.

He had a long, long history of getting lost, ever since I was a child (so going back 50 years). His sense of direction was always appalling. He would always compound it by refusing to ask for directions and carrying on further when he should have turned back. We got lost on holiday once and were gone for hours! He once got us lost on a sponsored walk that had a marked trail with volunteers giving directions. We ended up finishing AFTER pensioner aged nuns and disabled people.

He got lost last year on a walking trip to Skye and the helicopters were out. he laughed it off but it was a serious wake-up call if ever there was one. Luckily the chopper spotted him but he was missing for over five hours.

As to why his friends left him, who knows. They have steadfastly refused to speak to the family and when police asked them why, they said that they didn't want to get in the way. The have co-operated with Police and they are satisfied. They didn't ask for a single update which we found odd but they couldn't have got updates from anyone else because only my sister was allowed to speak directly to the Police as next of kin.

The Police have done all they can - had dogs out, corpse dogs, choppers, divers in the loch, walkers endlessly walking etc. They have found zero trace and a month or so ago one of the dogs showed some interest for the first time since searching but it turned to nothing.

He didn't drive up there, his friends did. He doesn't have a car and doesn't drive any more (thankfully).

As to why he hasn't been found, see above. He would have got up early, gone for a walk and then got lost (as he has many, many times in the past) and because he has no map (refused to use maps on phone and complete technophobe, no signal anyway for GPS) he would have just compounded his misery and kept walking. His body will be miles away from where he was walking because he has no visual reference point to where his tent is once he got lost and there's no markers or visual markers on the horizon or anything to "aim" for.

They searched the area near the car park where the car was left (they at least gave him the spare key) and haven't found anything there either.
 

MsMiniSleuth

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Police in Argyll have renewed an appeal for missing walker Neil Skinner, six months on from when he was last seen.

The 71-year-old from Doncaster in Yorkshire was last seen walking in the area of Loch Dochard near Bridge of Orchy on Sunday, 8 May.

Despite extensive searches and police enquiries, Neil remains missing and has not been found.

Inspector Ian Hutchison said: “This has been an incredibly distressing six months for Neil’s family and we have remained in contact with them throughout.

“They would like Neil to be found and I would continue to urge anyone who may have information or any knowledge of Neil to get in touch.

“Anyone who was walking in the area around that time or since who believes they may have seen anything out of the ordinary to let us know so we can follow it up.

““Any new information received will continue to be investigated fully and anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101, quoting reference number 3773 of 9 May, 2022.”

 
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