A family has told how they fled in terror as a huge landslide and flood water surged downhill towards their holiday home.
Matthew Dunsmore, 36, described how the holiday cottage they were renting on the banks of Loch Katrine began to fill with water before he and his wife, Michelle, 26, gathered their two young children and ran for their lives.
He said: “At first I noticed water on the back steps and then it started to come in the door.
“We put towels down to try to stem it but it was useless.
“The rain was heavier and the water levels rising faster than we could cope.
“One couple managed to escape through the roof.
“We saw a shed coming towards us at what felt like 60mph.
“It was like a near-death experience.”
Cars were washed away and homes ruined after heavy rain caused tons of mud, rocks and water to slide down the hillside above the village in the early hours of Monday morning.
Some of the boulders which crashed down in the landslide were bigger than cars and, along with others in the adjoining cottages, Matthew, from Birmingham, tried to build a dam to spare the cottages.
“But by then the water was up to window ledges and we were trapped without a phone signal or any way of calling for help,” Matthew said.
“Surely it is not too much to ask for a mast to allow people a phone signal in emergencies?”
The families could only huddle further down the hills between the rising loch and the landslide.
Matthew and Michelle were on holiday with his parents, Margaret, 67, and Alex , 72, and Michelle’s grandmother, Sylvia Hamill, 81, from East Kilbride.
With them were their young children, Louisa, four, and Jacob, five.
They spent the night awake, along with the other holidaymakers, terrified of falling asleep in case the landslide moved further.
At first light at 4am, Michelle made her way along the single-track road desperately searching for a phone signal to call for help.
“She walked three miles before was able to make a signal,” Matthew revealed.
At 11am a rescue boat came in to take them to safety.
They travelled the choppy loch covered in mud.
Some had lost their shoes in the dash for their lives.
All were freezing cold and desperate for warmth and food.
Their clothes were drenched and they were exhausted having been kept awake through the night.
The rescue boat landed at Stronachlachar Pier where cafe owner Brian Graham was waiting.
He said: “We got them in, some had lost their shoes but all were covered in mud from head to foot.
“We got the oven on and baked a fresh batch of scones and served them tea and coffee, all on the house.
“It was the least we could do. It was the children and elderly I felt really sorry for.”
Karen Cassidy, another holiday cottage owner has called for a phone mast to provide a signal to the area.
“We have been asking for one for years. It is very much needed in this area,” she said. “My main concern has been the safety of the families caught up in the landslide. It could have been much worse and we are all so glad no one was injured.”
Food supplies and fresh water were delivered last week to isolated families whose homes were cut off but so far, remained out of path of the landslide.
Contractors are working round the clock to repair the damaged single track road that snakes round the loch.
One couple have described the distress of the damage wreaked to their £200,000 holiday home by the devastating landslide.
Sheena and David Moore ploughed their life savings into their an idyllic cottage on the banks of Loch Katrine.
The couple say they are only one of four families whose properties have been wrecked in the mudslide caused by torrential rain on The Trossachs’ beauty spot.
Sheena, 58, said: “We spent years working hard to save and furnish our cottage which has had visitors from all over the world.
“We don’t know how long it will take to clean up and repair the walls and mud-filled interiors.
“Hours of painstaking work and devotion went into making these houses lovely Scottish retreats.
“Now we can only wait for the insurers to assess and go through the painful clean-up operation,” she added.
“But hours of hard work and renovations lie ahead. It’s heartbreaking.”
Sheena, a retired credit and contracts manager, and David, 60, a retired engineer, say they have already lost a significant income and have had to write off the rest of the holiday season.
The cottage nestles at the end of a single track road near Stronachlachar, in the heart of Stirlingshire’s tourist country, close to the birthplace of Rob Roy.