Boulton Paul Defiant on Hunt Law.
(Distance covered = 10
It was the day of the yearly 'Hogwarts' Competition in Edinburgh. I couldn't make make my mind up between two crashsites that I could visit , a Boulton Paul Defiant or a De Havilland Vampire. Both of which were just a little way down the road from Edinburgh in the Lammermuir Hills.
I took the maps for both locations and I still hadn't decided as I dropped the Girls off at their competition, which was right in the city centre below the Castle. The Competition is held at the George Heriot's School but, because the inside of the building reminded us of another School in a certain film about a wizardy type kid called Potter, we call it 'Hogwarts'.
The George Heriot's School in Edinburgh, AKA 'Hogwarts'.
As I had my bike along and the Defiant on
Hunt Law could mostly be reached by following Landrover Tracks and dirt
roads I decided to go for that one so parked the Pug at The Faseny Bridge on
the Gifford to Longformacus Road.
Blueberry Esmerelda Muffin II parked at Faseny Bridge.
The track running from Faseny Bridge across Hareshaw Knowe is Known as The Pylon Road for some reason, it runs more or less in a straight line for just about two mile gaining altitude gradually as it goes,then drops down sharply into a valley Between Meickle Law and Little Law.
The Pylon Road across Hareshaw Knowe
At the bottom of the Valley, (although as it's in Scotland I should be calling it a Glen) there is a little bridge which crosses a stream, (although as it's in Scotland I should be calling it a Burn) called 'Burn betwixt Laws', 10 out of 10 for inginuity in naming that one. Up the other side of the Valley/Glen is a Large Electricity Station which sits in the centre of a Windfarm.
A lovely unspoilt view across the Lammermuir Hills, Windturbines, Mobile Phone Masts, Electricity pylons, a Large substation and a maze of dirt roads leading off in all directions.
I had planned on following one of the dirt roads to the west then approaching the crashsite from the north over the top of Hunt Law, but when I got onto the wide dirt road that runs over Little Law I could see a Communications mast that was much nearer to the crashsite, so I decided to leave my bike there instead.
Hunt Law from Little Law, The road that appears to go to the Communications Mast was in fact a dead end at the Wind Turbine.
As I didn't want to be carrying my bike over any rough moorland I had to make a diversion down the main access road up from Dye Cottage, to pick up the track that passed the Communications mast, several of the Dirt roads that appeared to lead to the mast were actually dead ends terminating at each Wind Turbine.The slight diversion downhill at least gave me a photo opportunity with no Wind Turbines in the background.
A couple of hundred yards downhill, over the small bridge then back up the other side.
Usually when I have to ditch the bike to
go cross country I will wonder whether or not I will be able to find it
again, especially if I hide it in trees, on this day however finding the
bike again was definately not going to be a problem.
I don't know why I bothered to chain my bike to the Mast as their was no-one to be seen for miles and if anybody had happened past I doubt they would have been interested in knicking my bike anyways, but better safe than sorry!.
Bike number 3, chained to the Mobile Phone mast, I broke Bike number 1 + 2 on previous wreckhunting expeditions. The small wind turbine that appears to be in front of my bike is actually an optical illusion as its a full sized wind turbine about 500yards behind and downhill.
From the Communications Mast, or 'Bike Locating Mast' as it was now, it was only about a quarter of a mile to half a mile over the moorland to reach the crashsite. Sometimes it can be difficult to locate a crashsite if its in amongst heather or hidden in a peat hag or gully, especially if there's only small pieces remaining, this one can be spotted from quite a good distance away thanks to there being a large memorial on site.
Approaching the crashsite, easy to find thanks to the grave marker.
As the Defiant ploughed into the ground vertically and buried itself about 15ft down the Pilot could not be recovered so he lies here still inside his plane. This is therefore a War Grave and it is illegal to move anything.
Above and below:-The Headstone with wreckage from the Defiant lying on top of a crater in front of it.
I have a saying that I learned from my Mam, whenever I shiver I will say "someone just walked over my grave". I remember when I worked for Alnwick Council years ago tidying up neglected graveyards, I would always be very careful not to stand on anyones grave. As I didn't want to walk on Sgt La Gruta's grave I took a zoom lens for my camera which allowed me to photograph the pieces of Defiant from the edge of the crater.
There is an obvious infilled crater where the Defiant and Sgt La Gruta lie buried, the pieces lying on the top would most probably be from the wings and tail that would have been ripped of as it buried itself into the ground.
I was a bit uncomfortable at first at the thought that someone lay buried here but after I saw a picture of a happy smiling Sgt La Gruta on a cross someone had placed below the Memorial I was put completely at ease, strange as it may seem I even, without thinking, asked if he minded me taking some photos.
This looks like it may have been left by a Family Member
I had read reports in some Hillwalking reviews that this was a bleak and desolate spot, but I didn't find that at all, perhaps it was because it was a pleasant day weatherwise when I visited. I did find it to be a very sad place for obvious reasons.
Looking over the crashsite to the windfarm and Bike locating Mast
Below:-Some of the pieces lying on top of the crater
It's amazing how shiney this piece is after lying on a Scottish Hillside for over 70 years
There were some shooting butts quite close to the Defiant crashsite so I sat in one of those to have my butties and do a spot of sunbathing before setting off back to the bike.
Now where did I leave my bike?
The way out comprised of mainly gradually uphill interupted by a couple of very steep downhill sections. The way back was therefore going to be mostly downhill interupted by a couple of very steep uphill sections.
Two of the steep downhill out/uphill back sections, the farthest one away is the drop into the Glen of the 'Burn Betwixt the Laws' which is hidden from view behind Little Law.
Going down the last two mile stretch of Landrover track I was gaining
quite a bit of momentum, up ahead I could see about 10 sheep lying in the
middle of the track sunbathing, thinking of my encounter with Dopey the
dozy Sheep in Alva Glen I began politely enquiring if they should be so
kind as to move aside so I could continue on my way. On hearing my polite
request the flock of Sheep decided that instead of taking a couple of
steps of the track into the heather the best course of action would be to
run down the track in the same directions as me. I therefore found myself
catching them up quite quickly shouting abuse at them to get out of the
way. Just as I came in range of giving them a boot up the backside they
decided to vacate the track and allow me on my way.
All downhill back to the Car from here.
In case anyone wants to accuse me of animal cruelty I of course would not
have given the sheep a boot up the backside, but it would have been tempting if they
had not have moved out of the way.
A Hawker Typhoon crashed beside the Faseny Burn about a half mile north of where I had parked the car, I had time to nip up and have a look for that one as well but decided to leave it until later in the year when I was coming back for an expedition up the Faseny Glen to look for a further two crashsites up that way.
The Faseny Burn running down to Faseny Bridge.
I would say my good luck with the weather is negated by my bad luck with photo opportunities, take for example standing on top of Knochendoch Hill near Dumfries while two Avro Lancasters flew up the Solway Firth and passed right below where I was standing, and I didn't have my Camera. Well today it was the last remaining airworthy Avro Vulcan flying very low and slow over the Lammermiur Hills, trouble is I was back at the car busy putting the bike back onto the cycle carrier and I could only stand and watch as it flew behind Hunt Law in the distance, over the very spot where I'd been standing only 1 hour earlier.