Bullets, Blaeberries, Buccaneers and B24's.

Short Sunderland DP197 on Creag Riabhach.
(Distance covered =  2.0mile/Ascent =+170m)
Blackburn Buccaneer XN961 and
Consolodated B24 Liberator BZ724
on Beinn Mhealaich.
(Distance covered =  6.9 mile/Ascent =+560m)

 Day 6 on my 2018 Walking Holiday. I was on my own today as after a grueling 28 mile trek the Day before Stuart and Chloe had taken the day off to recover before travelling back to Ireland.

Stuart, was however going to meet me at the third crashsite on my itinerary for the day as he had borrowed a quad bike to return the large lump of the B24's flap that his Dad is pictured holding in an Aviation Archaeology book called Hell on High Ground volume II.

Parked up and ready for an early start in Glen Loth.

The first part of my walking today was only a couple of miles, to the crashsite of another Short Sunderland flying boat. I had already been to visit the crashsite of two others in the previous 5 days but had found very little. I'd wild camped the night before in Glen Loth which is a beautiful uninhabited Glen just down the road from Helmsdale. I would also be starting out on both of my walks this day from Glen Loth.

View up Glen Loth from the top of Creag Riabhach.

It was only a mile to reach the Sunderland crashsite and as I'd set off so early it was lovely and cool and very enjoyable walking in the early morning sunshine. The remains of the Sunderland proved pretty easy to find as there was a large scar that was visible from some distance away.

Above and below:-Approaching the obvious scar where Sunderland DP197 crashed.

There was considerably more wreckage at this Sunderland than the previous two I'd been to including lots of bullets, in fact the most bullets I've ever found at a crashsite. This record was to prove short lived however as I was to find even more in a couple of days time while visiting the remains of a Vickers Wellington on nearby Carn Garbh.

Collection of bullets, these had all exploded 'cooked off' in the crash and ensuing fire. I did put all the bullets back where I'd found them after I took this photo.

View north to Carn Garbh, a Vickers Wellington crashed on the other side of that hill.

above and below:- Other bits of wreckage scattered around the moor.

Another scar containing small pieces.

More Sunderland wreckage. I would be walking up the Glen in the background in a couple of days time to visit the Wellington which crashed just over the other side of the hill on the left. The weather would be quite different on that day,

More wreckage photos

Descending Creag Riabhach back to the car. The weather was now glorious and sunny.

Next on my agenda was the more modern crashsite of a Blackburn Buccaneer, but first I had to move the car a mile or so farther up Glen Loth and park at the end of a track that lead down to a ruined shepherd's cottage. Parking here would allow me to encompass the Buccaneer and a B24 into sort of a circular route, always preferential to having to backtrack.

The ruins of a shepherds cottage at the start of my walk. Beinne Mhealaich is the larger hill in the distance.

The walk down to the old ruin was easy enough but then I encountered a deer fence. I had two choices, either make a diversion to a gate or climb the fence. I decided climbing the fence would require the least effort.

Cracking view back over to Glen Loth, Beinn Dhorain and Ben Uarie.

Another problem with Deer fences, besides the obvious problem of climbing over them, is that they stop critters such as Deer and Sheep from grazing the vegetation on the other side. The whole point I know, but this means the going is very tough with deep heather and in this instance, newly planted trees that each had a 3ft deep hole next to them, hidden in the long grass and heather. On the plus side there was thousands of untouched Blaeberries, so I had plenty of rest stops to enjoy the local produce.

O/S should name this 'Blaeberry Hill' on their maps.

One more deer fence problem I should mention is that a Deer fence is usually protecting an enclosure so you usually end up having to climb over it a second time at some point! Then if you return the same way climb over it twice again. As I was following a circular route today I thought I would only have to climb it twice but it turned out this was one long deer fence.

Out of the Deer fenced enclosure and on to the open hillside. The Buccaneer crashed in one of the scars near the skyline.

Once I'd climbed out of the enclosure the going was much easier and I could see the scar made by the Buccaneer in the distance, so the walking became very enjoyable. I had also accumulated a supply of Blaeberries for refreshments which I'd collected in an empty water bottle, so life at this point was good!

Scar where Buccaneer XN961 hit the hill, there were some small fragments lying around in it.

More wreckage photos.

The area where the Buccaneer hit the hill. Dornoch Firth is visible in the distance.

As I was leaving the Buccaneer site I received a message from Stuart to say he'd set off from Gartymore with the large lump of B24 flap. He had twice the distance to cover than I did to reach the B24 wreckage and he was carrying a large lump of aeroplane, but he had the use of a quad bike for most of the distance. However I still reckoned I would get there before him.

Almost at the B24 crashsite, which is just over the other side of the ridge on the left.

Stuart arriving with the bit of flap.

Above and below:-Stuart above, placing the piece of flap back at the crashsite and his late father John Whittaker below with the same piece in 1997. The photo below was the one featured in Dave Earl's book 'Hell on High ground II'

Photo courtesy of Dave Earl.

above and below:-Diagrams showing where the piece of flap was situated on the B24.

Diagrams courtesy of Stuart Whittaker.

Above and below:-A couple of the craters on the moorland above Helmsdale.

A .50cal shell casing. The indent in the center shows this had been fired.

More wreckage photos.

The area below Beinn Mhealaich where B24 BZ724 crashed.

After having a good look around the B24 site I said my goodbyes to Stuart, as he and Chloe were heading off back to their home in Ireland, then I set a course back to Glen Loth aiming for the northern side of the Allte a Chuluig burn. I was kind of hoping this would take me far enough north to avoid the fenced off enclosure, but unfortunately it was a rather large enclosure which seemed to stretch the full length of Glen Loth so I still had two deer fences to climb, or to be more accurate, one deer fence to climb twice.

Heading back towards Glen Loth and the enclosure along a lovely track made by the local Deer population.

At least the enclosure wasn't as far across north of the burn, but it was worse going. On the plus side there was even more blaeberries here so I filled my waterbottle again then when I was back at the car I mixed the blaeberries into a tin of rice pudding to have for my tea. A delicious way to finish off a very enjoyable days walking.