Time to go home.
Hawker Hunter XK151 on Keppoch
(Distance covered = 2.0 mile/Ascent =+281m)
General Dynamics F-111 70-2377 on Sgurr na Stri(Distance covered = 8.4 mile/Ascent =+629m)
Day 15 of my 2018 walking holiday and my second day on the Isle of Skye. My first day on Skye had been a total wash out after I suffered some attrocious weather and failed to find any sign of the crashsite I was looking for.
This day started off much better weather wise with patches of blue sky here and there and occasional glimpses of the sun. Parking proved to a bit troublesome but I eventually found somewhere about 300m east of where I needed to access the hill, but as this walk was only going to be a 2mile round trip that little bit extra was nothing to worry about.
The Hunter crashed on the top of the cliffs in the distance at the right of the photo.
Having had a look at maps and satellite imagery before I came, the only
difficulty in reaching this crashsite appeared to be how to get up onto
the hilltop through the forest. On arrival I discovered this problem had
been removed for me, literally!
Sometimes walking through a recently felled forest can prove to be much harder work than if the trees were still there but in this case there were caterpillar tracks from the bottom to the top which made the going very easy.
At the top end of the ex forest.
Once up and out of the top of the forestry it was a very easy and pleasant walk for the rest of the way up to where the Hunter crashed, and despite the surrounding landscape being shrouded in cloud and mist the hill I was on remained dry and was occasionally bathed in sunlight.
View south across Loch Slapin.
Rainbow off to the west.
The Hunter crashed at the top of these vertical cliffs at the eastern end of a small hill called 'Nead an Fhior-eoin' above Keppoch.
The scary looking slopes of Blabhein to the north west of Keppoch.
above and below:- The impact scar where the Hunter hit the hill.
This crashsite was exactly where it was supposed to be so was an easy one to find. There is a scar containing some small fragment where the Hunter had first hit the hill then a little further to the south west is a memorial cross with some pieces collected at it's base. Continuing south west a couple of hundred metres beyond the cross was a rocky area with more small fragments scattered about. On a return visit to this site the following easter with Stuart Whittaker we would find a lot more wreckage including more turbine blades and a number of 30mm cannon shells.
Above and below:- Memorial cross fixed in the rocks above Keppoch.
Some fragments of the Hunter gathered at the base of the cross, including some turbine blades from the engine.
View of the cross taken from the impact scar.
While I was taking some photos at the crashsite the weather closed in a bit and I was subjected to a bit of a downpour, but after that the skies began to clear and the sun made an apearance. I returned to this crashsite with Stuart Whittaker during the 2019 Easter holidays and we found a lot more wreckage scattered for some distance from the impact scar and memorial cross.
Time for another photo of the cross in the sunshine.
Above and below-This rocky area to the south west contained more small fragments.
As I descended the hill back to the car the weather continued to improve, so as it was still quite early in the day I made the decision to continue on and do the walk I had planned on doing the following day to an F-111 crashsite on Sgurr na Stri. Sgurr na Stri is reported to offer some of the most spectacular views in the country from it's summit so I was keen to climb to the top in nice weather.
Nearly back to the car in now glorious weather.
The start of the walk in to Scurr na Stri was a mile or so down the road and there was a good car park adjacent to it. The sunshine I had enjoyed on my walk to the Hunter crashsite had decided to stay on Keppoch so I set off walking along the landrover track to Camasunary in slightly more overcast conditions.
Plenty of parking at the start of this walk.
Landrover track to Camasunary.
View back over to Keppoch, the Hunter crashed at the top of the cliffs at the right hand side of the hill.
Once over this rise there were some fantastic views of Camas Fhionnairigh Bay and the southern end of the Cuillins including Sgurr na Stri.
Camas Fhionnairigh Bay.
The lodges at Camasunary with Sgurr na Stri beyond.
Although not the biggest of hills Sgurr na Stri still looked like it may prove a bit of a challenge, with the whole hillside being covered in rocks and cliff faces and the area where the F-111 crashed looking particularly steep and craggy. The first challenge involved in ascending Scurr na Stri however was a wetter one; crossing the Abhainn Camas Fhionnairigh burn without getting my feet wet.
Walking upstream looking for a place to cross.
There did use to be a suspension bridge across this burn but it had long since dissapeared, so the only options were to take my boots off and plodge over, or walk upstream to look for some stepping stones I had read about on some walk reports on the interweb.
This was the only thing I found which resembled 'stepping stones'. I did manage to cross here with only my left foot getting a little bit of a dunking.
Once over the water I made a rising traverse up some grassy slopes between the rocks until I reached two gullies which ran quite steeply up to the summit. I followed the most westerley gully uphill and found some pieces of the F-111 in there.
above and below:-First piece of the F-111 I came across lower down in one of the gullies..
The western most gully was quite steep but easily managle with care, I found a few pieces of wreckage as I climbed up it, then about 100m from the top I exited the gully to the west as I followed a wreckage trail which led me to a large vertical cliff face below which is where the F-111 had hit the hill.
above and below:-Another piece of wreckage higher up the cliffs on Sgurr na Stri.
Just as I reached the cliff above the F-111 crashsite my 'good luck with the weather' metre well and truly ran out and I was subjected to gale force winds and large cold and horizontal rain which for want of a better word battered me into submission. I found a large boulder to shelter behind and waited in the hope the nasty bit of weather would pass but it didn't, it just kept deteriating.
Above and below:-The F-111 collided with Sgurr na Stri about 20 metres below this cliff face.
above and below:- A couple of pieces of wreckage below the cliff.
The rain was so heavy that the only photos of the wreckage I was able to take were of pieces that lay next to any boulders that was large enough for me to shelter behind and I was also by this time more concerned with escaping off the hill than taking any photos. On a return visit the following easter in more favourable weather we found thousands upon thousands of bits of wreckage scattered over the hilside.
There were pieces of wreckage scattered around the boulders in this photo.
I had noticed on the way up that there was a lot of black rock slabs that were very slippy, these were now all wet and consequently provided as much traction as a banana skin on a sheet of ice, so after slipping on my backside down one I made sure to avoid those. I was tempted to descend by another route to look for other bits of wreckage but because of the atrocious weather and the fact that there were numerous small cliff faces that would be invisible from above in the best weather I took the safest option and returned by the same route I had used on the way up. I wouldn't have been able to take a decent photo of anything I found anyways!
Safely back down to be rewarded with a view up the glen to Loch na Creitheach.