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

and Heinkel HE111 SJ+SH,
on Eastman's Cairn, Cairnsmore of Fleet.
(Distance covered - 10.4 mile/Ascent =+1092m)

I visited two of the wrecksites on 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

I parked the pug at a carpark below Cairnsmore Hall which is just south of Newton Stewart, at first 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 which could have been 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 tiny scraps scattered around.


Two small scraps of the Phantom Jet.

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.

Above and below:-More pieces of the Anson scattered in the boulders

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.


A piece of the undercarriage retraction unit with some of the wooden structure still in situ, this piece though usually more complete is found at most Anson sites I have been too.

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.


The path down just before the steep bit.

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 I don'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 hillsdie 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 however still incorrect as 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 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 nor 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.

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.