Heavy metal campers unwittingly spark mass rescue mission

The group ready to sail to the island Image copyright David Henderson
Image caption Ready for an adventure: Ross Anderson, his son Jude, Natalia Teo, Andrew Vassiliadis and his father Pan Filis

An innocent camping trip on a Scottish island turned into a “scene from a movie” after a group of friends were the subject of a massive rescue effort.

Someone mistakenly believed the group of heavy metal fans were sailing to the island for a sinister suicide pact.

The friends told ghost stories around their camp fire on a tiny island on Loch Leven on Sunday night.

But little did they know, police, helicopters, boats and fire crews had been dispatched to “save” them.

After smashing windows in their two cars parked on the shore to look for suicide notes, boats made their way to the island.

‘Like the X-Files’

There they “rescued” campers David Henderson, a teacher from Glasgow, Aberdeen University lecturer Panadiotis Filis and civil engineer Ross Anderson, along with 10-year-olds Natalia Teo and Jude Anderson, seven-year-old Andrew Vassiliadis and a dog called Jazz.

David Henderson, singer with black metal band Nyctopia, told the BBC: “We are just a group of friends who like to go wild camping, drink beer and listen to heavy metal music.

Image copyright David Henderson
Image caption The campers set up on a smaller island

“We parked the cars opposite Lochleven Castle and did a safety briefing before we rowed over to the island.

“A woman from Historic Scotland told us we weren’t allowed to camp there. So we rowed away to another island and camped there.

“We set up our tee-pee and got a fire going with lots of nice food.

“We were sitting around the fire telling ghost stories and that’s when we started seeing loads of weird lights in the sky and across the water and then there were more and more of them.

“The lights seemed to come towards us and the dog started barking – it was very surreal and we really didn’t know what it was.

“It was like something out of a movie, like some kind of an X-Files episode.

Suicide note

“We thought, if it came to it, we would grab the kids and get in the boat and get away from there.

“We killed the fire because we didn’t know who this was and our priority was to protect the kids.

“When they came closer we realised it was a rescue team and I could hear on their radios that they wanted us off the island.”

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The group saw lights heading towards them and getting closer and closer

The group had to take their equipment apart quickly and the rescuers took them off the island by boat.

When the adults reached the shore, there were fire engines, police cars and ambulances.

Mr Henderson said: ” I think there were 22 vehicles there, and about 50 to 70 people. It was bizarre. We were taken to the ambulance and they were putting thermometers in our ears as we walked to the ambulance and checking our pulses.

“They then told us the reason they put our car windows in was because they thought something sinister was going on and they were looking for a suicide note.”

The adults were questioned by police who were concerned about a possible kidnapping.

Once police established no one was in any danger and the children were all entitled to be there, the police and rescue teams left.

Image copyright David Henderson
Image caption Police broke windows to search the cars

Mr Henderson said: “They kind of made us feel as if we did something wrong, but when they realised we were just a bunch of good friends taking our kids on a heavy metal camping trip that was the end of it.

“Nowhere on the island did it say it was protected heritage site.”

The group, who were prepared for a night’s camping on the island, ended up having a more uncomfortable night instead.

“We were left in the dark, in the cold with no fire, we couldn’t drive away because we’d had a couple of beers round the campfire,” explained David.

“They rescued us from an environment which was absolutely safe and comfortable to an environment that was freezing cold and broken windows on our cars.

“It was a total over-reaction.”

After a cold night in their cars, the group had to pay for the replacement windows.

Image copyright David Henderson
Image caption The children in the group wore heavy metal-style face paint

Mr Henderson put the incident down to the group’s appearance. The kids had some face paint on and the adults were dressed in black.

He said: “Because we were all dressed in black and look like heavy metal fans, people sometimes assume we are dangerous.”

Despite the drama, the episode has not put them off.

He said: “Apart from all that, it was fun. The kids were calm and are used to wild camping so it was just another adventure really.”

The group were rescued from Reed Bower Island, north of Lochleven Castle.


The castle is where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned in 1567.

The ruin is looked after by Historic Environment Scotland, while other islands are maintained by Scottish Natural Heritage.

A spokeswoman for Police Scotland said: “We were called regarding a concern for a group of people on Sunday at around 19:00.

“Inquiries were carried out, along with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and they were all traced safe and well at around midnight’.


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