The Long Muddy Puddle.
General Dynamics F-111 68-0803 on Craignaw.
(Distance covered = 9.6  mile/Ascent =+825m)

 Luck would have it that we were staying with one of Donna's Dancing Friends over Dumfries way and her Husband had offered to take them to the Competition at Girvan, so as I could make a really early start on my expedition, 3 crashsites up the top of Glen Trool.

Because of this I was parked up at The Bruce's Stone Carpark in Glen Trool and on my way by 7-00am, and although I still had to pick the girls up from the competition; that wasn't until 5-00pm, so I had loads of time, or so I thought!

      The Bruce's Stone Carpark at 7-00am,the Midges were out in force looking for their breakfast.

As I was setting off from the carpark I heard a strange noise coming up the road behind me, it sounded a lot like a robot walking up the hill, indeed as it came around the corner into view it looked a lot like a robot as well. What it actually was, was someone dressed in what I could only describe as a cross between a chemical warfare suit,a beekeeper's outfit and an Astronaut suit, I presume he was expecting an onslaught from the midges so had come suitably attired, but standing watching while I was wearing only shorts and a t-shirt, I couldn't but help a wry smile!

Leaving Bruce's stone carpark

The weather was a bit overcast and damp at first and it had been bucketing down during the night, but as the day went on the weather gradually improved. This situation was reversed when I visited here again later in the year*.

The path goes diagonally across and up this hill, when I returned later in the year this section was covered in chest high bracken.

About a mile along the road the path I needed turned off up the hillside, and promptly became a mudfest, in fact I would descibe this path as the world's longest muddy puddle. All the rain during the previous night hadn't helped.

Loch Trool, compare this with the shot I took from the same spot on the way back.

The path from the road in Glen Trool up to Loch Valley proved to be very slow going due to numerous diversions around bogs and puddles trying to keep my feet dry. On reaching Loch Valley any hopes that the path might improve were soon forgotten about, as things became even more wet and boggy.

The western tip of Loch Valley with the first glimpse of Craignaw beyond.

Not far past Loch Valley is Loch Neldricken, it outflows at it's southern end down a short burn into Loch Valley, today it was quite full and I needed to be on the other side of the outflow.

The outflow from Loch Neldricken making it's way down into Loch Valley.

I'm not that good at Leaping across things, I can make the leap but invariable my dodgy knees will give way on landing, so I like to find conveniantly place boulders that I can just step across, not that easy here but after walking about 100yrds back the way I'd just come I found a suitable spot and I was across. There was no path to talk about around the south of Loch Neldricken as the only people that venture here are fishermen and the odd person like myself going to visit the F-111 memorial.

Craignaw from the southern shore of Loch Neldricken,The momument is circled and an arrow points to where the F-111 hit the rockface.

I thought of the three crashsites I was planning on visiting this day, that this one would be the hardest to find , but it was actually very easy to locate as the only obvious route up from Loch Neldricken leads right to it, and also it's right below the aptly named 'Monument Cliff'.

View south-west over the memorial, Loch Neldricken is behind the monument and Loch Valley can just be seen middle distance, just left of centre.

There used to be quite a lot of the F-111 left here but after complaints were received about the area looking like a scrapyard the US Air Force sent a Jolly Green Giant Helicopter to remove everything, while they were over doing that they also cleared the Phantom site** on Cairnsmore of Fleet as well.

The largest piece to be found,it is made of thick steel and quite heavy.

Apart from a foot long heavy steel part there are only small fragments to be found, mostly collected around the base of the memorial or in the scar where the jet hit the rockface.

View south over the memorial to Bennanbrack and the location of another crashsite.

Next on my agenda for the day was the crashsite of an Auster Workmaster which crashed on Dungeon Hill in 1963, the same year I was born. The Auster crashed on a flat bit of ground on the bealach between Dungeon Hill and Craignairny but there are also a few pieces of it, including its engine, on the slope to the south.
I was dermined to find these parts first but despite a thorough search of where they were supposed to be I could not find them, so I searched where they wern't supposed to be as well but stiil found nothing, probably because they were well hidden in the long grass and deep heather and as the parts in question were also half buried, probably the only way I would of found anything was if I tripped over them.

Taken from The Devil's Bowling Green on Craignaw, Mullwharcher, centre distance with Craignairney in front of it on the left and Dungeon Hill on the right,The Auster crashed on the bealach between Dungeon Hill and Craignairney.

When I left the carpark at 7-00am I thought I had loads of time but now because of the slog up the bogfest of a path taking so long and because of spending way to much time looking for the illusive engine, I found myself  running out of time. Bearing in mind I had to tackle the boggy path on the way back plus squelch my way halfway around Loch Neldricken to even get to it, I erred on the side of caution and set off back to the carpark thinking of Arnold Swarzeneggers catchphrase as I went.

Craignairny, up the top of the Valley on the other side of Loch Neldricken.

"Arll be back" in case you've never watched an 'Arnie' film.

The outflow from Loch Neldricken had subsided a bit from when I crossed it earlier..

Loch Valley with the 'Rigs of the Jarkness' behind

Bennanbrack, across the other side of Glen Trool

Same shot I took on the way out but much better weather.

Rejoining the road at Buchan Bridge.

I wasn't as bothered about keeping my feet dry on the return journey so I saved a bit of time just barreling through the boggy sections instead of going around them and also some of the flooded parts had dried out as once the sun came out it was quite warm. I did however lose a bit of time stopping to take photographs as the weather was now lovely and sunny, so by the time I arrived back at the car and got changed out of my muddy gear, I had to make like Colin Mcrae to get up to Girvan in time.

Ever wondered what a direct hit from lightning does to a tree?

It turned out the competition at Girvan was running well late, so I arrived in plenty time to watch Heather's last dance followed by the results, which was nice saying as she won!

Heather(no 238) with her trophies for winning at Girvan. The girl on the left did very well  considering she has a seagull on her head!

*--second visit