Northern Ireland news

Co Derry hiker stranded in Welsh mountains after testing positive for Covid

Paul McErlean (right), Charlie Coward (left) and Andreas Maltan (centre) self-isolated in a vacant property in Cheshire for a fortnight

A CO DERRY hiker who tested positive for Covid was left stranded in the Welsh mountains with two friends after they were unable to stay at their planned campsite.

Paul McErlean (23) from Lavey had been hiking for nine hours when he received a text saying he had the virus.

He had already received his first vaccine but but felt unwell en route to Wales and took an early test in Wolverhampton.

When the positive result came through, Mr Erlean and his friends, Charlie Coward and Andreas Maltan, took to social media in desperation as they knew they couldn't stay in the booked accommodation.

They were inundated with replies after Derry Girls creator Lisa McGee reposted the tweet, and even got a response from former British home secretary Jacqui Smith - who had a spare caravan.

The story was first reported in the County Derry Post.

Speaking to the BBC, the Co Derry man said he had almost forgotten about his test results until they neared the end of an 18 mile hike on July 23 and got the alert.

"We were all absolutely knackered. We had hardly any water left, batteries on our phone were dying and we were pretty much in the middle of nowhere," he said.

"I called the campsite and explained what happened so we couldn't go there.

"There was no room at any B&Bs in the town [Dolgellau] and the closest hotel was not taking Covid-positive travellers for isolation."

The trio ended up staying in a vacant property in Cheshire for a fortnight after a friend of Mr McErlean's father came to the rescue.

Mr McErlean said the experience was a "wake-up call".

"I was due in for my second jab but that's obviously delayed now with my positive test.

"We got lucky - my symptoms were mild. Many young people haven't got two [vaccine] doses yet and many may not have money if they were to get stuck like us.

"I don't think I'll be going anywhere too soon but I'll definitely be getting a Covid test if I do."

Paul McErlean, Charlie Coward and Andreas Maltan were hiking the Snowdonia way from Machynlleth to Conwy Picture Paul McErlean

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