In the zone.
Grumman Wildcat JV404 on Bennan
(Distance covered =
7.4 mile/Ascent =+545 m)
Day 2 of my 2017 walking holiday . Day one had been a success as I had found both crashsites I set off to visit and the weather had been lovely and sunny. Today was a much shorter walk as I had to be at the ferry terminal at Ardrossen by 7:30pm to catch the ferry over to Arran.
I'd tried to visit this crashsite before but on that occasion I had slept in and the weather had not been the kindest so I left it for another day, this day. I set off nice and early before even the sun or the midge had made an appearance as I didn't want to end up being pushed for time to catch the ferry.
Well used path, but not to get to Bennan, to get to The Merrick!
There was a really good and well used path right next to where I parked the pug, it didn't go to Bennan but to The Merrick via Benyellary, however it went in the right direction and passed very close to the summit of Bennan so proved very useful.
Gotto have a photograph of a waterfall!
Bennan on the left, Merrick on the right.
Once I reached a forestry track just above the Bothy at Culsharg I had the choice of continuing on the path which would take me very close to the summit of Bennan but on the wrong side of the hill from the crashsite, or turn left and follow the forestry track which contoured all the way around Bennan before climbing up to the summit from the other side of the hill, passing very close to the Wildcat's remains. Option 1 was 1.5 mile, option 2 was 3 mile. I took option 1!
Just over the other side of the forest track the path went into woods.
After walking up through the woods I was a bit puzzled by a sudden lack of trees surrounding me, but luckily this metal plate on the path clarified things, I did think whoever made the plate had spelled mountain wrong but 'Montane' is the name for the ecosystem found on mountains
In the 'Montane Zone', looking back down to the 'Forest Zone'.
Had to leave the Merrick path at this deer fence for a short boggy stretch over to the summit of Bennan, the mast sits on the summit.
Good view over to Bennanbrack and the location of Anson MG356(yellow cross)
The summit of Bennan seemed to have a proliferation of Deer fences but luckily most had either a gate or in one case a rather impressive stile to negotiate them, once past those it was a short descent from the top of the hill down to an old fire tower and the Wildcat wreckage was just below that, on the edge of a recently felled plantation.
Approaching the old fire tower from the top of Bennan.
The first thing I found was both of the Wildcat's undercarriage assemblies which were lying under some forestry debris a short distance from the rest of the wreckage.
Main collection of Wildcat wreckage on Bennan. More wreckage photos
Remains of the Wildcat's tail, an almost identical although more intact piece can be found on Beinne Bhuela*
View from the Wildcat crashsite up to the mast on the summit of Bennan.
I'd made it to the Wildcat with loads of time to spare so on the return I took the previously mentioned 'option 2'. My decision to take the longer route was helped by the now glorious sunny weather and the fact that taking 'option 2' mean't I didn't have to climb back up and over the top of Bennan to regain the Merrick path.
View of Bennan summit from the forest track around it's base.
An F-16 flying over Bennan.
Almost back to Culsharg Bothy and the Merrick path back to the carpark.
I was back at the car with plenty of time to drive up to Ardrossen to catch the ferry, I even had enough time to call in to Girvan for some fish and chips which I ate in the beachside carpark with spectacular views over to Ailsa Craig, Arran and Kintyre.
On the Calmac ferry to Arran, my luck with the weather had now held out for two days.