A Champion Tail.
Grumman Martlet AL251 on Beinn Bheula.
= 8.9 mile/Ascent =+1041m)
The Highland Dancing World Championships are held every year in Dunoon on the Cowal Peninsular, halfway between our Hotel at Lochgoilhead and Dunoon is Beinn Bheula, location of a Royal Navy Grumman Martlet crash.
I'd already visited this crashsite during our 2012 visit to Cowal but as there was no other crashsites that I knew of within range and also because I'd overlooked the tail on my first visit, I decided to have another walk up Beinn Bheula.
Beinn Bheula shrouded in cloud
On my first visit in 2012 I'd utilised my Mountain Bike to save time as 2/3rds of the way is on a forest track, even so I still only just made it back to Dunoon in time to pick up the girls after the competition. This time I didn't have the bike so I was a little worried that I wouldn't have enough time.
The first stages of the forest track snake their way up quite a steep gradient.
Back in 2012 I'd only just started my second shift of Hillwalking after a very long interval so I wasn't particularly fit, 3 years later I reached the Martlet Wreck in half the time and was back to Dunoon with a couple of hours to spare and that was without the bike but also without about 3 stone of weight.
Almost to the where I had to leave the nice dry forest track.
The default weather on the Cowal peninsular seems to be rain, rain and a bit more rain, on this day I had a feeling it was going to be no different with ominous black clouds loitering all around and the top of Beinn Bheula being covered in clag.
Typical Cowal weather
For the initial walk in along the forest track it stayed nice and dry both underfoot and from above but after a couple of mile a signpost to Lochgoilhead meant it was time to leave the track and head of up through the trees.
The signpost simply reads "Path to Lochgoilhead" with a large arrow underneath pointing the way, it should also say underneath "Forget any notion you had of keeping your feet dry" , because from this point it is a bogfest and because there'd been quite a bit of rain the day before the bogs were flooded and all the burns were in spate. I didn't get very far before I forgot any notion about keeping my feet dry!. At least I made much quicker progress once I started plodging through the bogs instead of skirting around them.
The Grumman Martlet's engine.
As I'd been to this crashsite before there was no challenge in finding it again, that is at least the 4 pieces I found on my first visit, the tail section yet again proved ellusive.
The second sizable piece is a fairly long section of wingspar complete with undercarriage leg.
I took along a photograph of the tail section, so I could get an idea of where it was, but after walking around the area a couple of times I couldn't get anywhere near a match to the cliffs in the background of the photo, I even climbed further up the crags above the other pieces but to no avail.
The largest piece remaining is this big lump of starboard wing with the faded RAF roundel just vsisble,since my last visit it has been moved downhill and partially buried by a landslide.
I did a larger diameter circuit around the area checking in all the peat hags and gullys but there was no sign of the Martlets tail. In case you've never heard of a Grumman Martlet it was the Royal Navy's name for the Grumman Wildcat, The name Wildcat was also adopted by the Royal Navy at a later date.
Bulkhead and armour plating from behind the pilots seat.
Coming to the conclusion that the tail section must have been recovered I resigned myself to not finding it and was heading back downhill when I spotted a bit of cliff very similar to what was in the background of the photo I had. Walking towards it I was then able to line a distant hill up with a step below the cliff in question and yo and behold there was the tail, quite a distance away from the other pieces and quite a way downhill.
Above and below:-The ellusive tail section, If it had of been standing up like this it would have been much easier to find but it was lying flat partially hidden by long grass. I stood it up to take some photos. This same section of tail can be found on Bennan*
Mission accomplished I was then treat to a deluge of very fat wet rain which made the plodge back to the forest track so much more enjoyable. Once back at the forest track the sun made an appearance and I was able to dry my boots out a little and put on some clean dry socks which I find is always a morale booster. I was to have an even bigger morale booster when I arrived back at Dunoon to find out that Heather had qualified for the Highland Dancing Junior World Championship Finals.
Heather(far left)dancing in the World Championship Finals.
By merit of qualifying through the heats on the friday meant Heather was one of the top 20 Highland Dancers in the World who would compete in the finals on the Saturday. My plan had been to drop them off at Dunoon then go back to Lochgoilhead and play Golf all day but now she'd qualified I couldn't miss watching her, so it was one very proud Father who can say 'What to do when Highland Dancing' on this day was watch his daughter compete in the Highland Dancing World Championship Finals.