The wrong hole!
Blackburn Botha L6478 (Dirnow Loch)
covered = 2 mile/Ascent = +8m)
A bit of an epic weekend was started off by going to a competition in Stranraer on the saturday, then after that had finished driving straight up to Aberdeen ready for a Championship the following day.
I was originally planning on hanging around at the venue at Stranraer, perhaps having some zzz's in the car in preperation for the long drive up to Aberdeen; Partly because I was planning on tackling a 15mile trek around the Hill of Wirren to look for 9 crashsites on the Sunday and partly because Heather's section of the competition at Stranraer didn't start untill after 12pm, meaning I didn't have much time to go anywhere. As is often the case I changed my mind at the last minute. I had been given some map references for crashsites near Stranraer by an Aviation Archaeology expert from the Dumfries and Galloway Museum and one of them was very near to a road, so off I went to have a look for that.
Unnamed road that passes very close to the Botha crashsite.
As the road near the crashsite was single track and narrow there was no obvious place to park without running the risk of becoming stuck in the soft verges or blocking a passing place, so I parked about a mile down the road beside a caravan site called the Three Lochs Holiday Park.
Above and below:- Passing the 'Black Loch', the third of the three lochs beside this road that I presume the caravan park takes it's name from, the other two being Loch Ronald and Loch Heron.
The person who gave me the grid reference also told me that most likely all that might be found would be a hole full of water. This crashsite was one of the first excavations carried out by the Dumfries and Galloway Aviation Museum way back in 1974. I could clearly see a pool of water right at the correct spot on a satellite image of the area so I figured that must be it, and even if I found no wreckage at least I could try and find that. I could also see on the satellite image that it should be easy enough to find by walking along the road past some conifers to a clear area then following the edge of the trees along to where some adjacent conifers had been felled.
Satellite Image of the crashsite, the water filled hole is marked with a yellow arrow, my intended route with red arrows.
After walking down the road past the three lochs my plan quickly became unstuck when I realised the area of conifers had now been felled and the area of felled conifers had now been replanted, this meant the crashsite was now amongst young conifer trees which would make it much more difficult to locate. Instead of walking past the conifers that were no longer there I walked across through some deciduous Trees, which can be seen at the bottom left of the image above.
It was a pleasant walk through these woods.
It wasn't so pleasant crossing this!
Instead of being easy to find in a clear felled area the Botha crashsite was now in there.
Searching around in the trees for a water filled hole that may not even be there any more 43 years after the Museum group dug it.
After scratching around in the trees for about half an hour I decided it was time to give up, especially after I put my foot in an unseen drainage ditch and promptly ended up in muddy water up to my knees. As soon as I started off back towards the edge of the plantation I came across quite a large hole which was full of water but covered in spaggy moss and it was at the exact right spot.
Above and below:-Quite a large hole full of water and spaggy moss.
I had a prod and a poke around the edges of the crater to see if there was any wreckage hidden in the undergrowth but there was nothing, so happy that I'd at least found the hole that the Botha was dug out of I continued on my way out of the forest.
Why I thought I was so lucky to at least find the crater, it's right there but impossible to see from just 10 foot away!
As I was
making my way out of the plantation
and thinking about how
lucky I was to have found the overgrown crater in amongst the trees, I
got even luckier!
I had started walking out with the intention of going straight over to the road, but I changed my mind and changed direction into a thinner area of trees which took me back on a course towards the edge of the deciduous Woods I had walked in through. As I came to a small clearing I walked right onto a small peice of aircraft alloy sticking out of the ground.
Above and below:-If I hadn't of walked right over it I would never have spotted it. It's beside the small tree in the foreground.
This piece of Botha was about 200yards away from what I thought was the crashsite, it could have been blown here or dropped here but regardless, I had now found something, so this one could go on my list. I started having a quick look around the rest of the clearing and started finding other bits hidden in the grass or under forestry debris and fallen trees, until I came across an even bigger water filled hole which was well hidden by trees and spaggy moss. It would seem the first hole I'd found and the one I'd spotted on the satellite image was the wrong hole!
Close up of the satellite image in question, 'A' being what I thought had to be the water filled crater, and 'B' being the actual crashsite.
Another piece of Botha sticking out of the mud.
The actual crashsite of Blackburn Botha L6478, as with the Warwick in Culbin forest it would seem the Landowners have left, or planted Deciduous trees around the crashsite.
The correct hole is in the middle of those trees.
Collection of pieces lying under a fallen conifer tree.
above and below:-Back across the recently felled area, the going was a lot worse than it looks.
Passing the Black Loch on the way back to the car, I'm sure I've seen that scene in a Horror Film!
I still made it back to Stranraer in plenty time to have an hours sleep before the competition finished and the drive up to Aberdeen commenced. The first part of the 230 mile journey to Aberdeen was very enjoyable thanks to some fantastic views from the road up the coast to Kilmarnock and some well nice Fish and Chips at Girvan, savoured with a spectacular vista of Ailsa Craig, Arran and the Mull of Kintyre.