Bristol Beaufighter X7588 on Shirlaw Pike.
(Distance covered = 3.5mile/Ascent = +159m -160m)
Supermarine Spitfire R6891 near Black
(Distance covered =
3.0mile/Ascent = +127m -127m)
The Girls had a lift to their competition which gave me the opportunity to go and look for two less well known crashsites and have another look for one I'd previously failed to find..
I've all but run out of crashsites that I know about to visit in the Cheviots, but there was a couple on the moors between Alnwick and Rothbury. Both were only a couple of miles walk so I planned on doing three walks in one day, the two on Alnwick Moors then a third over the other side of Rothbury which I'd been to before but failed to find. My son wanted a lift to work and he started at 4:30am so I took the opportunity of a sort of enforced early start.
Blueberry Esmerelda Muffin parked beside the A697 at Framlington Gate.
The drive up to part one of my three part walk was entirely in thick fog so I wasn't expecting much weatherwise, but Framlington Gate where I was parking the car was like an island of sunshine amongst a sea of clag.
View east from the layby.
All I had to do to reach the first crashsite was follow a forest track for about one mile then cut through a firebreak for a couple of hundred yards onto moorland below Shirlaw Pike, then it was a couple of hundred yards to where an Air Accident Research group had found fragments of a Beaufighter.
Off up the forest track
A few years back a member of the Group that found this crashsite gave me a list of all the high ground wrecks they had found. The entries on the list were all colour coded, red entries meant they had visited the site and found something, most of the red entries were also accompanied by a 10 digit grid reference. The Beaufighter on Shirlaw Pike and the Spitfire at the Black Lough, which was part two of my days walking, were both red entries!
Above and next two photos:-Sunrise and fog off to the east.
The first half mile of the walk was very pleasant in the early morning sunshine but then the track turned into the woods where, out of the sun it was quite nippy and this was one of those dark dense oppressive type of woods.
Scottish Woodlands owned the woods.
The firebreak I needed to follow would be more accurately described as a clearing which conveyed a burn through the trees, but whatever it was it was easy going until the last hundred yards where everything became very boggy.
Clearing through the trees.
This area was very boggy and a little bit foggy!.
Despite having a 10 digit grid ref I failed to find any pieces of the Beaufighter, I was pretty sure I found the exact spot but because of knee deep heather it proved impossible to locate any of the fragments; another instance when I wished I had a metal detector! I have since spoken to the member of the group who found this crashsite and he has told me exactly where the wreckage is located so another trip here is definately on the cards.
The summit of Shirlaw Pike.
View north from Shirlaw Pike.
The area where the Beaufighter crashed.
In 2022 I finally received a Metal Detector as a christmas present, so in February of 2023 I returned to Shirlaw Pike and was able to locate several small fragments of the Beaufighter hidden in the heather. Not much but enough to promote Beaufighter X7588 to my crashsites found list!
After relocating the Pug a couple of mile to the north east I set off up another track through some woods towards Black Lough and the crashsite of a Spitfire. These woods were much more pleasant and as the Spitfire site was listed as having small pieces as opposed to fragments I was much more optimistic about finding something.
Parked at the entrance to Wide Hope Woods.
There was a public path marked on the map that passed about half a mile to the south of where the Spitfire crashed but when I reached the gate in the woods where this path branched off it looked very indistinct and boggy, so I followed the track up through the forest instead.
above and below:- Track through Wide Hope Wood.
Once out the top of the woods walking through bogs became unavoidable, so I headed down to the Black Lough in the hope there was a fisherman's path around the shore; there wasn't!
As there'd been quite a bit of rain in the preceding days the bogs were not only boggy but wet and boggy, but I knew my mk5 Hiking boots would keep my feet dry as long as I didn't sink so far that water went over the top, so the only part that gave me any problems was a wide ditch containing a burn flanked by spaggy moss; fortunatley I came across a small bridge which was hidden in the reeds.
Approaching Thorny Knowe just east of the Black Lough, where the Spitfire crashed.
Again, although I had a 10 digit grid ref which allowed me to pinpoint the exact spot, there was no sign of even the tiniest scrap so I had a search around just in case the grid ref was a little out but there was nothing to be found.
If the grid ref the Air Crash Investigation Group gave me is correct the Spitfire crashed in the area just to the right of the stone wall.
Usually when I don't find anything I will say that at least I'd had a nice walk, but in the case of the two walks I'd done so far on this day I was hard pushed to say that. Both had been a bit of a bog slog and the woods on the way to Shirlaw Pike were not the nicest I've ever walked through. So! even though I didn't find anything at least I'd had a bit of exercise!
View north to the Cheviot and Hedgehope from Mare's Rigg.
It was at least a pleasant walk through these woods.
When I arrived back at the Pug from the Black Lough I was undecided about heading over to the other side of Rothbury for another attempt at finding the Spitfire site on Darden Rigg. As I'd already sufferd two fails already on this day I didn't fancy a third, especially since I'd already been there and didn't find it, so I decided to eat my sandwichs first then make my mind up. My decision was helped however when I had a quick nap. As I'd been up since 4am my quick nap lasted a lot longer than I'd intended so when I eventually woke up I couldn't be arsed to do anything other than go home!