Marie Bremner‘I chewed on acorns and grass as 100-strong rescue party and helicopters failed to find me’

SHE had gone out for what should have been her normal early morning stroll.

But being a cool August morning Marie Bremner, 53, became ambitious and decided to climb her nearest hilltop in El Gastor, Cadiz.

It is a decision that she will live to regret for the rest of her life.

Having just reached the top of the 1100 metre El Algarin peak, she slipped, lost her footing and found herself paralysed and unable to move.

El Algarin

With shooting pains down her leg and in her back, the retired trauma nurse from Edinburgh, knew she had to stay still and wait to be rescued.

It was to be the start of a three day ordeal that left her close to death and pondering the meaning of life.

“It was terrifying and I am just trying to get my head around it now,” Marie told the Olive Press. “The idea that I would never see my family again. It was psychologically hard.”

Despite a search party being sent out by her husband Roger, a classical guitar teacher, the group of around 100 villagers was unable to find her.

Her family had soon flown in from Scotland to help, but alongside police with sniffer dogs and helicopters they were still unable to locate her.

“I could not move and had no water,” recalled Marie, who moved to Spain from her native Scotland two years ago.


“I could see the helicopter flying around and tried to attract its attention by waving and shouting like mad, but because it was mostly below me I had no luck.

“I realised I had to get out of the sun and somehow managed to drag myself over to a hollow in the rock. But I was soon so dehydrated I could not think straight.

“My tongue was swelling up and my mouth was completely dry.”

In order to gain sustainance in the searing 40 degree heat she started to chew on acorns and grass.

“The acorns were very dry, but they helped to get the saliva going. I also chewed on grass, and while it made me retch it did help.”

While the daytime temperatures were high, at night the cold winds brought the temperature right down.

“It was very cold and I shivered through most of the night,” continued Marie, who bought a house in the centre of the scenic village of El Gastor seven years ago.

“On the second night it was even colder, but I managed to pull some wild grass and oats over my body to keep me warm. It definitely helped.”


By the third morning she knew she had to do something. With the pain having subsided a little she took a few tentative steps down the slope towards the village.

After about an hour of creeping down the hill she was finally spotted by a local group out looking for her.

“They ran over and gave me two litres of water and a pear. They then phoned Roger with the news. We were crying and clinging on to each other.”

Rushed to Villamartin hospital by ambulance, it was quickly established that nothing was broken and apart from some serious bruising and “millions of mosquito bites” she is otherwise OK.

“I just feel so sorry for my husband and family and thankful to the villagers for rallying around and being so kind. They cooked him meals and made sure he never gave up hope.

“I am certainly going to be more careful when I go out walking in the future.”

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