Day out at Duns
Fairey Firefly MB447 on Sparleton.
(Distance covered =
1.5 mile/Ascent =+74m)
WA432 on Fennie Law
and Hawker Typhoon DN366 at Faseny.
covered = 13.7 mile/Ascent =+645m)
Heather was Dancing in a competition at Duns just north of Coldstream, they had a lift there and back which meant I could have a really early start, no time limit to pick them up and I could go where ever I wanted.
As I'd originally thought I would be taking the girls up to Duns I had already planned visiting a couple of crashsites in the vicinity, so I ended up going up past Duns as well, to the Lammermuir Hills. Because time was now not an issue I had added another two to my itinerary and was going to attempt to beat my record of visiting 3 crashsites in one day.
Parked up at 7.00am below Johnscleugh Farm
The first crashsite didn't involve much distance , probably less than a mile, however in hindsight I wish I'd left it to last as it involved wading through waist high bracken and long grass which was still soaking with the early morning dew so by the time I was back at the Pug my boots were soaking wet and the next three crashsites I was visiting involved a 14 mile trek.
Back on 'The Herring Road', I crossed this going to the Defiant on Hunt Law.
I parked where the 'Herring Road' crosses the public road then started to walk back
along the road towards Cot Cleugh which is a gully on the western slopes
of Spartleton and where the Firefly crashed. I could see
across the valley that there was a quad track running parallel with the
road along the other side
of the burn so I cut across and followed that instead.
The quad track on the other side of the Burn ran right past the bottom of Cot Cleugh.
Once at the entance to Cot Cleugh it wasn't far to walk uphill, but the long bracken and grass made sure I had no chance of keeping my feet dry. I had two grid refs, one for the remains of the engine and one for the location of a crater containing small pieces of the Firefly. I found the location of the crater no problem but could see no sign of the engine.
A crater with some small pieces of MB447 lying on the top.
The two grid refs were pretty close together so I started to wonder if what I had found was actually the location where the engine used to lie and it had been removed by someone , so perhaps the area where the rest of the Firefly ended up could be a little further uphill. I searched the hillside thoroughly around the area where I found the other pieces but found nothing so concluded that I had actually found the crashsite after all and the engine must have been spirited away by someone.
Pieces of MB447 lying on top of the small crater
While searching around the hillside
I was walking through a patch of Heather and put my foot right next to a
very large very well camouflaged Adder. the Adder was sunbathing and was
not very happy at me putting my size 10 right next to it, so promptly had a
go. I was extremely impressed with my own fast reactions as I managed to
get my leg out of the way before it was able to give me a nip. I have been
Hilwalking for over 30 years now and that was the first time I had ever
spotted an Adder never mind being attacked by one.
The only place I hadn't looked for the engine was in the long grass right beside the burn and while walking through this I tripped over the remains of the Firefly's Rolls Royce Griffon engine which was completely hidden in the long grass.
The crankshaft from the engine, visible after I trampled down all the grass.
All that was left of the engine was the crankshaft, still attached to the supercharger gears and part of the lower crankcase. Although I had hoped to find a complete engine this was better than finding nothing and if it had of been a complete engine someone would have had it away long ago.
Above and below:-Supercharger Gears attached to the back end of the crankshaft
Even with the grass trampled down its still almost hidden
To reach the other 3 crashsites necessitated moving the car a few miles to the west to park at Faseny Cottage.
A good view of where I'd just been from the Gifford to Longformacus Road next to Faseny Cottage.The crashsite is incorrectly marked as Spitfire BM647 which is what I thought it was at the time I visited but BM647 crashed just over a mile from here on Rook Law.
Of the next three crashsites on my itinerary, one was only 500yards from where I'd parked the car, one was about 3 mile away and one was 7 mile. I could have moved the car nearer to the second and third crashsite after visiting the first but I had all day and I needed the exercise.
Passing Faseny Cottage and heading for Fennie Law
I couldn't decide to visit the Typhoon near to Faseny Cottage first or leave it to last. As most of the way to crashsites 3 and 4 was on a landrover track I was wearing my trainers, so I could tie my hiking boots to the back of my rucksack so they would dry out . I therefore decided to leave the Typhoon to last as it involved mud and puddles. So crashsite number two became crashsite number four.
The hill on the right is Bleak Law, Fennie Law is the other side of that.
One annoying stretch of the landrover track involved crossing 4 deep fords because the landrover track and the burn decided to mimick a soundwave as they passed through a valley between two hills.
Picture of a soundwave for the uneducated amongst us.
About to enter Soundwave Valley
I thought the wreckage of the Vampire would be easy to find as it lies in a distinct gully on Fennie Law called Rushie Cleugh. Trouble is Rushie Cleugh although easy to find was well overgrown with all sorts of vegetation including chest high bracken.
A slightly overgrown Rushy Cleugh, a piece of the Vampire can be seen near the top right of the photo.(see photo below)
Although I managed to find a few pieces of the Jet there was some pieces I couldn't find because of the thick undergrowth. As well as doing a good job of hiding the wreckage it also made it very difficult to see where I was putting my feet and as it is quite a steep gully and I didn't want to end up on my arse at the bottom of the ravine, I exited, with the intent of returning at a time of the year when the foliage would be a lot thinner**.
Same photo as above taken when I returned to this site in March 2016**. Definately one to visit in the winter!
Above and next 7 photos:-Some of the pieces of the Vampire Jet I did find.
After slogging about in the overgrown Ravine, then back up the hill to the
Landrover track, I was in two minds whether to go over 3 more mile in the
opposite direction to where the car was parked, to look for crashsite
number 3 of the day, another Spitfire on Bullhope Law. I kept changing my
mind but eventually decided to walk towards Bullhope Law until 3 o'clock
then see how far I had left to go then.
Hopes Resevoir from Fennie Law
By using the 'I'll just go as far as that' method I eventually tricked myself onto Bullhope Law. However, probably because it was hidden under the deep heather and aided by a rather viscious downpour of cold fat stinging rain, the remains of the Spitfire refused to be found. I searched for quite a while without luck but figured as I was coming back when the foliage was more revealing in Rushie Cleugh, I could also nip back along and have another look for this one as well, especially if I parked at East Hopes which was only a couple of miles away.
Bullhope Law(pronounced Boolip), if my map reference is correct the remains of the Spitfire should have been just beyond where the burnt patch of heather meets the lighter shade area.*
Sods Law dictated I wouldn't find the one that was farthest away, but I had already found two and there was one still to look for, it did mean however I could now only match my record.
Passing above Hopes Resevoir at the start of a long trudge back to Faseny Cottage.
The last ford going back through what I called the 'Soundwave Section'
At least I didn't have to make a diversion over to Fennie Law on the way back and my good luck with the Scottish Weather had regained its status quo, so what I thought was going to be a bit of a slog back turned out to be very enjoyable.
Its becoming a challenge not to get a Windfarm in the background.
By the time I got back to Faseny Cottage it was 7-30pm, I was a bit worried I might loose the light before I reached crashsite number four but the weather was now very nice and the sun was still beating down.
Faseny Cottage, the crashsite of the Typhoon is just past this along the Valley.
As I approached where the Typhoon crashed there was more and more very thick high bracken, so I was beginning to think I wasn't going to find this one either, but it was lying in a thinner patch of the stuff right beside a quad track.
Remains of DN366, the pylon road I followed to a Defiant Wreck on
Hunt Law can be seen in the distance.
The crater is filled with small pieces of the Typhoon
Bits of perspex from the cockpit canopy.
The crater contains lots of small fragmented pieces.
Up that hill back to the car
I don't know when the RAF allocated the serial numbers to their aircraft but if it was at the factory then this Typhoon (DN366) could possibly have been next off the production line to the Typhoon I visited in Clyde Muirsheil Park (DN365)see here
A welcome sight on top of the hill
A very enjoyable but long day, it's always nice not having to worry about
the time for a change. On the drive home I received a text(which
I stopped to read of course!) with two
bits of excellent news.
1-Heather had won at Duns
2-There was a platefull of chinese food waiting for me when I got back.
*--I have since been back and found the crashsite of W3244. Slightly higher up the hill than where I searched I had walked past within feet of it but it was hidden from view from below by the heather.
**--March 2016 visit to Rushie Cleugh