Two sunny one sandy and a very wet one.

McDonnell Douglas F4c Phantom 68-0566,
Avro Anson EG485.
(Distance covered = 9.4 mile/Ascent =+860m)

 Heinkel HE111 SJ+SH,
(Distance covered - 10.4 mile/Ascent =+1092m)

Avro Anson N5140, 
(Distance covered-12.6 mile/Ascent 1179m)

on Cairnsmore of Fleet

I visited two of the wrecksites on the top of Cairnsmore of Fleet while Heather was at a friends in Dumfries Horse riding, I made a second visit two weeks later when she was dancing in a competition at Stranraer to visit a third and in 2021 I returned to visit a fourth.

On all three visits I parked the car at a carpark below Cairnsmore Hall which is just south of Newton Stewart, on my first visit  I drove past the carpark as it is actually just a lane with a locked gate at one end and laybyes to park in, so I thought "that can't be it"

Blueberry Esmerelda Muffin II parked in the somewhat improvised carpark

I knew it was on average a 2 hour trek to the Summit of Cairnsmore of Fleet and once up there I had to drop down the other side a bit onto Eastman's Cairn to look for the wrecksites so I was going to be pushed for time.
The first obstacle of the day was Cairnsmore Farm, despite Scotland's right to roam act I still don't like going near farm buildings, I think because of all the times I was chased by an angry red faced farmer with a shotgun when I was younger. Luckily in this instance there was a sign diverting walkers through some woods and away from the farm.

Approaching Cairnsmore Hall and Farm

To get a little sidetracked, I used to live in a house near Warkworth in Northumberland when I was younger. I lived there for about twenty years and had no idea until recently that two Spitfires had crashed in the field right opposite to our house, the same field I used to walk the dog in every day.
(and be regularly chased by an angry red faced farmer!)

No worries about being chased from this field

Through the woods another track was joined which passed the location where the carpark used to be, adjacent to a field about a mile into the walk. Across said field it was back into the woods where a nice path is followed which goes all the way to the summit.

Back into the woods at the top of the field.

Above and next 4 photos:-The path to Cairnsmore of Fleet through Bardrochwoods.

Walking through woods can be a bit tedious as there's not much to look at other than trees and almost half the distance involved in reaching the top of Cairnsmore of Fleet is in woods, so I was quite relieved when the path finally emerged through the top of the trees onto open ground, not least because I was hoping there might be a bit of a breeze, as it was very hot and hazy.

Out the top of the trees

According to the weather forecast on the radio the atmosphere was full of sand particles which had blown over from the sahara and that's what was causing the haze. Whatever it was it had made it very hot and clammy.
Once out of the trees the path made towards a steep bit of ground then proceeded to zigzag its way to the top.

Spectacular views north to the Rhinns of Kells and Glen Trool(at least there would be but for the sandy haze!)

At first the summit of Cairnsmore of Fleet didn't look too daunting a climb, but of course what can be seen on exiting the woods is a false top and once the top of that is reached the summit is still quite a distance away .

About to hit the zigzags on the steepest bit of the ascent.

Strangely enough on such a popular Hill on such a glorious day I had the hill to myself, just how I like it, especially when I'm pushed for time because if I pass anyone and they ask where I've been or where I'm heading I will tend to give them an in depth account of all the crashsites I have visited, whether they want to hear about it or not.

Looking back down the path from halfway up the zigzags

Once up the steep bit it was a very enjoyable walk up a slight gradient to the summit, but I would imagine on a not so nice day this stretch would be a bit of a slog!. There's a large cairn, an abandoned Bothy, a trig point and a large granite memorial at the summit so it wasn't hard to spot. I had a root around to the south east of the summit looking for any remains of a Blackburn Botha that crashed there but found nothing.

The memorial lists 8 crashes that have occurred on the hill, I have now found 5 of them.

I decided to head for the Phantom first as I could see a cairn off in the distance at the far end of Eastman's Cairn , and the crashsite was close to that.

The trig point on Cairnsmore of Fleet

Someone had very kindly constructed a very small cairn at the top of the scar that is believed to have been made by the Phantom when it struck the hill, this made the site very easy to find, just as well as the only remains of the jet were tiny fragments which would have been hard to spot amongst the boulders.

There's only a few tiny scraps of the Phantom left lying in a scar caused by the crash.

After complaints were received that another hill slightly further to the west called Craignaw looked like a scrapyard after an F111* crashed into it, the United States Airforce sent a Jolly Green Giant Helicopter to clear it and they cleared this site as well while they were at it, leaving only a few pieces scattered around.

On our visit in 2021 we found several more pieces of the Phantom on the steep slopes to the north east of the impact scar.

More wreckage photos.

If someone had plenty of time and a metal detector they could probably find lots of pieces scattered around in the rocks and heather, I had neither so I ate my fish and chip paste sandwiches(much nicer than they sound) and set off towards another wreck.

Heading back towards the summit I found a couple more fragments, the farthest away being at this spot.The crashsite is circled in the background.

I few hundred yards from the Phantom crashsite I found a couple of pieces of the Heinkel 111 that also crashed up here. I had a quick search around the immediate area but found no other pieces amongst the boulders so as I was beginning to be pushed for time I settled for what I had found and continued on towards the area where the Anson crashed.

A piece of HE111 found in the area where the tail used to be.


It transpired that these pieces that I found were lying in the area where the Heinkel's complete tail section used to be before a museum group had it away.  The area where the rest of the Heinkel burned out was not far away but I didn't quite search far enough uphill to find it, never mind! an excuse for a return visit.

Although the HE111 and the Anson crashsites are very close together there was no mistaking this panel was from the Anson.

 The Phantom, HE111 and Anson crashsites are all pretty close to each other on Eastman's Cairn so I didn't have far to go before I came across some panels from the Anson. I'd read reports of this crash which described how it had bounced up the hill and ended up in a large boulder field. Thoughts that I would easily find the wreck by looking for the said large boulder field were soon dashed when I realised the whole of the hill was a large boulder field. As it turned out however it was easily found by following a 300 yard long trail of pieces up the hill to the area where its journey had finally come to an end.

More wreckage photos.

After taking photographs at the Anson site I worked out I now only had 1.5 hours to get back to the car and drive back to Dumfries to pick the girls up. Oh well! at least it would be all downhill.

The location of the Phantom and the Heinkel 111 crashsites, taken from the Anson crashsite.

I saved a bit of time by contouring around the western slopes of the summit to reach the path just above the zigzags. I could have saved more time by resisting the urge to keep stopping to take photographs.

Back on the zigzags, much easier on the lungs going down

After her horse riding Heather had gone to a dance class in Dumfries and I was meant to pick them up from there at 4pm, it was now 3-30 and I was still about an hour from the car and then a 40 minute drive from Dumfries, better put a spurt on and not stop for anymore photos!

OK, one more. Looking over to Knocktim on the left, another Anson crashed on there but at the time I didn't have an accurate grid ref for that one.

News that their dance class had overrun a little and they were going to go to Morrision cafe afterwards meant I wouldn't be in too much trouble for being late so I eased off a bit and enjoyed the rest of the walk back to the car.

Back into the trees on the way down, at least there would be no more nice photo opportunities to distract me

Two weeks later I was back again and the weather was even better than my first visit.

Back up out of the trees, clear blue skies and a nice cooling breeze. Perfect!

One of these days my undoubted good luck with the weather is going to run out and I'll eventually get to try out my new waterproofs.

This time the views north to the Rhinns of the Kells were even better.

Last visit I made it to the summit in 1hr 50 minutes, I was determined to beat that this trip and just managed it at 1 hr 45 minutes.

The summit cairn, memorial and Bothy ruins, again!

I had another look for any remains of the Blackburn Botha that crashed not to far from the summit but again found nothing, despite the terrain and vegetation being very flat. It was either cleared away very thoroughly or I have an incorrect grid ref!.

Meickle Multaggert from Cairnsmore of Fleet.

This time I continued over the top of Cairnsmore of Fleet and down the other side to check out the eastern slopes of Eastmans cairn, I figured if a Jet going at full tilt had hit the western side not far from the top then momentum must have carried some of it over onto the other side.

Dropping down the eastern side of Eastman's Cairn.

The trouble with going down the other side of the hill is that I would have to climb the hill all over again once I got down there. At least it would burn off a few more calories and get me a bit fitter even if I found nothing.

The eastern side of Eastman's cairn, if my theory was right there might be some pieces of the Phantom amongst those boulders, if my theory was wrong I would at least be a little fitter by the time I got to the top.Again!.

I found a nice spot below an area called 'The nick of the saddle' and sat down to eat my butties,(fish and chip paste again) while I was doing that I scanned the hillside with my binoculars. I didnt spot anything on the hillside but further down the fenceline I was following, right at the bottom of the slope was what looked like a piece of wreckage.

Above and Below:-Piece of wreckage I found below Eastman's Cairn.

My theory that a piece of the Phantom might have made it over the ridge and down the other side was actually correct as during a later visit in 2021 we found several more peices of the Phantom, but on this occasion although my theory was correct my application was a little out as I searched the slopes a little too far south and the piece I found was from the Heinkel 111 and had most likely been blown down here by the wind or dumped here by some idiot souvenier hunter when it became too much of a chore to carry.
In case anyone is wondering how I knew it was from the Heinkel and not the Phantom, the fasteners around the two access holes in the panel were identical to ones I found later at the actual Heinkel crashsite, so unless Mcdonnel Douglas bought a load of surplus fasteners from Heinkel after the war and then used them in their Phantom Jet then this piece was from the Heinkel.

Halfway up the Eastern side of Eastman's Cairn

A good search around in the boulder fields on the ascent back up yeilded no more pieces of either plane so I made towards the pieces of Heinkel I found on my previous visit and walked straight onto the Heinkel crashsite. Despite the crash occuring over 70 years ago the area of boulders still looked burnt and is littered with pieces of melted alloy and small parts.

Above and below:-The area where the Heinkel burned out after crashing.

More crashsite photos.

As is usually the case I now found myself running out of time for picking the girls up but luckily I had a phone signal and I received a text to say the competition was finishing later than expected so that gave me that little bit extra time which meant I didn't have to hurry.

By following a line from this cairn which is near the summit to the one in the distance(circled) on Eastmans Cairn you will walk right onto the Heinkel site.

On the way down I bumped into a few people on their way up, so after spending a bit of time having a chat with them I found myself running short of time again.  Of the 8 crashes that have occured on Cairnsmore of Fleet I have now visited 5 of them, the 3 on Eastman's Cairn, and two Ansons below the Clints of the Spout. There are two other Ansons that I don't have a grid ref for and the Botha which I have a grid ref for that is probably wrong.

In the spring of 2021 I was contacted by someone who goes by the name of 'Dabhand' on the interweb, he had also been walking on Cairnsmore of Fleet and had found the remains of one of the other two Ansons. He also gave me a description of the whereabouts of what he believed to be the Blackburn Botha remains. Armed with this new information I arranged to meet up with Stuart at the Carpark near Cairnsmore Hall. As well as going to look for these other two crashsite we also planned to visit the 5 others that I had previously visited as Stuart had never been on Cairnsmore of Fleet before.

Setting off to Cairnsmore of Fleet via Knocktim.

As well as being in possesion of the information from Dabhand we also had a couple of possible grid references for the 8th crashsite on Cairnsmore of Fleet that we were going to check out on our way up the hill.

From this point the weather just got worse and worse.

Although the weather was quite pleasant when we set off by the time we reached our search area for the possible location of Avro Anson DJ126 it was zero viz and wet so despite a good search around we found nothing other than a couple of 7" artillery shells and we were also hit by the curse of the Happy Birthday balloon.

They always seem to be right at the grid reference you're looking for.

above and below:-An artillery shell found on Knocktim.

After the dissapointment of an 'FTF' on Knocktim we set off up into the gloom with high hopes of finding some remains of Avro Anson N5140, saying as we had a 10 digit grid ref for it's location which always helps!

The weather was not conducive to getting any nice photos.

The crashsite of N5140.

More crashsite photos.

After visiting the crashsite of N5140 and of course paying our respects we continued up the hill towards the summit of Cairnsmore of Fleet but then dropped down the other side to below the Clints of the Spout so Stuart could see the two Anson wrecks down there. On the way we checked out some information I'd received in another email pertaining that there was some wreckage lying in the dyke that split the hill; although this information was a bit vague we had deduced it meant the Nick of Clashneach. After finding no sign of any further wreckage we summised it must have been windswept panels from N5140 that had been seen there.

Stuart surveying the Anson wreckage below the Clints of the Spout**.

We found no trace of the Botha, again, but as the weather was by that time atrocious we were more concerned with safely making it down to the base of the Clints of the spout than searching for Botha remains. After Stuart had a look at the remains of the two Ansons there we climbed back up to the summit of Cairnsmore of Fleet, but the chilling wind, driving rain and zero visibility also discouraged us from looking for the HE111 and Phantom sites up there, instead we dropped straight off the eastern side where there was some respite from the weather. On the slopes to the east near to Billy Marshall's cave we found more pieces of the Phantom as well as another panel from the HE111.

In the vicinity of Billy Marshall's cave. There are pieces of Phantom scattered over a wide area here.

In October of 2021 I returned to Cairnsmore of Fleet again, with the sole aim of finding the reputed Botha wreckage above the Clints of the Spouts. This time I made a beeline straight up the tourist path, but just before reaching the summit I veered off to the right and dropped down to the area above the Clints.

above and below:-Up the tourists path again in quite reasonable weather.

View over to the crashsite of Avro Anson N5140

I didn't have a grid reference of any description for the reported Botha wreckage but I had seen images of it on a youtube video made by a walking group in 2012 and a brief description of it's location. As soon as I dropped back off the summit plateau to start my descent down to the area where I thought it was, I began making large zigzags to increase my chances of finding something.

Above and below:-About to enter my search area for Botha wreckage.

Found it!

Although I was initially excited at eventually finding the Botha crashsite at what was now my 4th attempt, it didn't take me long to realise that the remains were not from a Botha but from an Avro Anson. This area of wreckage is actually where Anson N9589 crashed**, the engines and other large pieces that lie below the Clints of the Spout most likely having been pushed over the cliffs by the Maintenance unit at the time of the crash.

Standing immediately above the Spout of the Clints waterfall, The engines and other large parts from N9589 can be found on the flatter ground about 300ft below this spot and were most likely pushed over the top of the cliffs here..

There was further evidence that this area of wreckage above the cliffs was Anson N9589's final resting place as there was a trail of wreckage leading down to the top of the waterfall; below which lie the engines and other large pieces. Just before the ground started to drop off rapidly towards the top of the cliffs there was the unmistakable shape of an oil cooler from one of the Anson's cheetah engines, there was also a piece visible on a ledge about halfway down the actual waterfall itself. This trail of wreckage added substance to my theory that the engines and other large pieces had been dragged down the hill by the Recovery Crew then dumped over the cliff to dispose of the wreckage after the crash. 

The scar and wreckage in the foreground, pieces are scatterd down the slope behind to where it drops steeply down to the edge of the cliffs.

Taken with a zoom lense, this photo shows more pieces of Anson lying in the area below the cliffs.

Back on the Tourist path to start my descent back down to the carpark.

Just as I re-entered the woods on the way back down I passed a fell runner on his way up to the summit, his dog wasn't in the mood to have a chat so I continued on my way after exchanging pleasantries. However as I was crossing the final field before reaching the farm he caught up with me on his way off the hill, so I asked him if he went up there often. Turned out he was completing a challenge to visit the summit of Cairnsmore of Fleet 500 times I think he said, as I was payng more attention to the information he gave me about the location of an other area of wreckage that he described as definately not from an Anson?

Another trip to Cairnsmore of Fleet required!


**--Clints of the Spout.