A ROYAL Marine died yesterday while taking part in a routine training exercise on a Scottish mountain.

The 21-year-old, who has not been named, was part of a group of about 30 Royal Marines taking part in the exercise when the accident happened at about 10.15am on the east side of the Ring of Steall in Glen Nevis, near Fort William.

It is understood the soldier was at a height of around 3000ft when he fell about 300ft from a ridge.

Lochaber mountain rescue team was taken to the scene in a Royal Navy helicopter from HMS Gannet in Prestwick.

The team quickly located the marine, but reported that he had died.

The RN helicopter had to be stood down after developing mechanical problems. However, the Lochaber team was able to continue the operation a short time later with further assistance from an RAF rescue helicopter from Lossiemouth.

Terry Confield, leader of Lochaber mountain rescue team, said: "The party this young marine was with were on a ridge called the Ring of Steall.

"This poor guy unfortunately slipped, or tripped about 300ft down the ridge. It proved to be fatal.

"Our guys quickly located the young marine, but unfortunately he had died.

"We got him on a stretcher but we had to wait for another helicopter to come from RAF Lossiemouth because the first chopper developed a problem with its winch.

"We eventually got airlifted off the peak and flown to base, arriving around 3.30pm.

"It is such an unfortunate tragedy."

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said last night: "It is with deep regret that we can confirm that a Royal Marine was fatally injured in a climbing accident this morning in the Glen Nevis area.

"The family are being informed. No further information will be given until that process is completed."

Yesterday's fatal accident is the latest in a series to occur in the Ring of Steall, which consists of a nine-mile-long circular ridge walk encompassing four Munros.

Last July the body of a man was found. In February 2003 the body of Adrian Hoppit, 48, a former Royal Marine, from Glasgow, was also discovered on the mountain.