99th just, 2nd brilliant
DH Mosquito MM244 at Corryfoyness.
(Distance covered =
6.8 mile/Ascent =+416m)
Although it was a Championships at Inverness, Heather's section didn't start until 11.30am, so we were driving up that morning which mean't leaving home at 5.00am and as I had a long drive back home when it was finished I decided not to go too far on this day.
The crashsite of A De Havilland Mosquito on the slopes above Loch Ness was an ideal candidate, for as well as not being too far to walk it was also only a 12 mile drive from the Competition venue in Inverness. There was two obvious ways I could see on the map to reach this crashsite, park on the busy A82 and follow the Great Glen Way north or park at the Abriachan Forest Visitor Centre and follow the Great Glen Way south.
Ample parking at the Abriachan Forest Visitor Centre.
I remembered from previous expeditions down this way, to Vickers Wellington crashsites in Glen Affric and Glen Morriston, that the few laybys along the A82 were usually full of Loch Ness tourists, probably looking for the Loch Ness Monster. The Great Glen Way from this direction was also through woods all the way to the crashsite of MM244, I therefore decided to approach from the north, slightly longer but easier to get parked and across some open moorland. As an added bonus there were Toilets and a cafe at the Visitor Centre.
Heading off up the Great Glen Way from Abriachan Forest Visitor Centre.
Abriachan Forest is one of those more open and green forests as opposed to some, that have the trees so tightly packed the floor is dark and devoid of vegetation, I've been through a few like that. Not far into the walk I was able to add another abandoned tractor to my little collection, although this one was nothing to do with a ski tow.
Abandoned Tractor no4 in my collection
Parking at Abriachan also mean't all the altitude necessary to reach the crashsite was done in the car, in fact according to the contour lines on the O/S map the crashsite was only 50 metres higher than where I parked the car. The climb from the A82 would have involved about 270 metres of altitude.
Approaching the highest point of the Great Glen way.
Although it may sound like I was being particularly lazy, the route I chose was a bit longer and although the crashsite was only 50 metres higher than the carpark, to reach it meant going up and over the highest point of the Great Glen Way which was at 380 metres. So there was a little bit of effort involved. There was however no effort involved in the navigating side of the walk, as the Great Glen way passes very close to the crashsite and in case the wide forest track wasn't easy enough to follow there was large wooden signposts and blue marker posts along the way as well.
One of the signposts along the way, as well as these there were blue marker posts for the Great Glen Way.
Just before reaching the crashsite the path passes above Corryfoyness farm which looked like it was derelict. I considered going down to have a nosey around, perhaps bag another abandoned tractor for my collection, but the thought of an angry Scottish Hermit with a shotgun made me err on the side of caution and I continued on my way.
Passing above Corryfoyness Farm, the crashsite of MM244 is marked with a yellow arrow. If anybody watched 'The Biggest Little Railway' on the TV there was a scene of them laying track here.
Just before the Great Glen Way entered the woods at the other side of the open moorland it was time to leave the track and head across a boggy area towards the grid ref I had. There was a quad track running adjacent to the Deer Fence which mean't the going was quite easy but it was a very short distance anyway.
Where the track enters the woods, exit stage right!
The Deer fence running up the edge of the woods was only about 5ft high but the fenceposts were not the most stable, making it very difficult to climb over. As well as a grid ref I also had a photo of the crashsite taken after someone had been digging stuff up, just as well because there was nothing immediately visible on the surface and I would have struggled to find the right location without the photo.
The boggy hollow between the trees is the crater where the remains of the Mosquito are buried. Judging by all the Deer footprints in the mud the Deer do not find the Deer fence as difficult to negotiate as I did.
When I go looking for a crashsite I do not count it on my list of crashsites visited unless I find a piece of the aircraft or there is a memorial at the location. Even if I can positively identify the location as being correct from a photo, I don't count it unless I find something. I thought that was going to be the situation here, I was in no doubt I was at the right place but there was nothing to be seen on the surface of the crater. A search around the area adjacent to the crater proved more successful however as I found a couple of tiny fragments, a piece of aircraft alloy and a scrap of plywood, not much, but just enough for this to count as crashsite number 99 visited.
A piece of the Mosquito's plywood skinning on the left and a small scrap of alloy on the right.
A more thorough search in and around the boggy hollow where the remains are buried turned up a few more fragments including an even smaller piece of plywood which still had traces of light blue paint on it, MM244 was a photo recconnaisance Mosquito so would have been painted light blue.
Tiny piece of plywood with traces of blue paint, as the Mosquito was mostly made of wood and painted blue for it PRU duties this tiny piece would have been helpfull in finding out the identity of the aircraft that crashed here, that is if it wasn't known already.
I would have found a lot more pieces of the Mosquito if I'd have had a bit
dig in the area in and around the boggy hollow, but I'm quite happy
leaving any digging to Baldrick and his mates ,and also I was lacking 3
things that would have proved useful:-
1--A metal detector, 2--A spade, 3--A licence from the MOD.
On the subject of Baldrick and his Timeteam mates, this bit looked like it could be a a bit of Anglo Saxon pottery but it turned out to be a bit of metal from a Mosquito.
After successfully finding and confirming the crashsite(just) my next objective was to head uphill to see if I could acquire a good view down loch ness but the best on offer was a glimpse of the Loch just above the trees(see last photo), so I figured I'd head back to Inverness and have a good couple of hours sleep before the 5.5 hour drive back home.
above and below:-Crashsite taken from just above.
Passing back above Corryfoyness Farm I found a nice flat rock to sit on to eat my butties, this also gave me another opportunity to contemplate going down to the apparantly abandoned farm to have a nose about, but again the thought that there could still be someone living there who might be in possesion of a shotgun put me off the idea!.
Taken from my butty rock above Corryfoyness Farm, the location of the crashsite is again marked with a yellow arrow.
Once back into the Abraichan Forest I decided 1 hours sleep would be sufficient back at Inverness, this would give me time to take a longer route back to the carpark over a nearby hill which I hoped might give me a decent view down Loch Ness.
Almost back at the highest point of the walk.
On my detour, I did not manage to find a decent view down Loch Ness, I walked across three peaks but each time any view of the Loch was obscured by trees, although I did find a giant wordsearch made out of an old cart.
above and below:-next best thing to a spectacular view down Loch Ness! A giant wordsearch!
I still managed about an hour and a halfs sleep back at Inverness and I was awake in time to go into the venue for the results. I was pleased I did because Heather was runner up in the North of Scotland Championships, 2nd only to the current World Champion. As I've said before it's always a good end to my day when I find out she's done well so this day had a spectacularly good end. Well worth the 11hour round trip.
Heather sitting beside the River Ness with Inverness in the backgound, she is holding the trophies she won for the fantastic acheivement of being runner up in the North of Scotland Championships.