No Fly Zone
Handley Page Halifax DK116 in Kielder Forest.
covered = 10.1 mile/Ascent =+400m)
There's not many competitions held over the Christmas period so consequently I don't get out on many hiking expeditions, this combined with one too many turkey sandwiches over the festive period meant I needed o get out and burn off some calories.
As we wern't travelling up to Scotland to a competition, I could visit a more local crashsite, have an early start and have no time limit to be back. I thought about heading to the Cheviots and doing all of the 7 crashsites which lie on the Cheviot massif itself, in one go. As it would only be my second hiking trip of the year(not counting the one right next to the main road), and since my first trip up the hills had been beaten back by the weather, I decided that plan might be a bit ambitious, fitness and weather wise!. Therefore I opted to revisit the crashsite of Halifax DK116 in Kielder Forest.
My two modes of transport for the day parked at Lewisburn Picnic site.
On my previous visit to this site quite a few years back, I had been plagued by flying insects, mostly large bluebottles, so I was hoping going so early in the year would mean that wouldn't be a problem
What looked like a grave marker beside the forest track, 'The Forking Sike'?
A large proportion of the distance required to reach the Halifax wreck from the Lewisburn Carpark can be covered on forest tracks, so despite having no time constraints I still opted to take my bike to lessen the monotony of trudging through forests on forest tracks.
Forest track towards Glendhu Hill
Since my last visit a lot of the forest had been felled, so it was a
lot more open with a lot more views, at least there would have been if the weather had been
nicer. I could see the area where the Halifax lay was covered in clag but
as I would be in the trees by then that really didn't matter.
Marvin's Cleugh(yellow arrow) and Little Marvin's Cleugh(red Arrow).The yellow arrow up the hill points to the approximate location of DK116.
The area to the right of Marvin's Cleugh had been felled and replanted
making it much easier to find the right burn to follow upstream. On one of
my previous visits this whole area was still covered in trees which
efficienty hid the burns from view and we managed to follow Little
Marvin's Cleugh uphill by mistake(see
Another problem I encountered on a previous visit which prevented me reaching the crashsite was the Lewisburn being in spate with nowhere to safely cross.
The Lewisburn below Glendhu Hill
Crossing the Lewisburn and finding Marvin's Cleugh is now very easy thanks to the Forrestry Commission building a bridge and a forest track at exactly the most conveniant spot to reach the crashsite. The forest track heads up towards the crashsite then turns north east and crosses Marvin's Cleugh which is where I ditched the bike and headed into the woods.
Marvin's Cleugh from the bend in the forest track.
The woods themselves were now much easier to negotiate as well, as the trees were a lot more mature and all their lower branches had gone, making progress on the mossy forest floor very easy going.
Climbing out of Marvin,s Cleugh
Finding the crashsite in amongst the trees is really easy by simply following Marvin's Cleugh uphill and taking the left fork where it splits. This is the same fork I used to find it on my first visit all those years ago, but then I came at it from above.
Above Marvin's Cleugh the going is very easy through the mature trees.
Although there is a considerable amount of wreckage remaining at the crashsite you do have to get quite close before anything can be seen through the trees. 25 years ago when the trees were younger with their lower branches still intact it was much more difficult to find.
I didn't see pieces like this last time because they were concealed by the young trees branches.
Another advantage of the now mature trees and their lack of lower branches was all the pieces scattered around the perimeter of the crashite were now easy to find whereas last time I visited they were hidden under the foliage of the then young trees.
Large heavy part mostly concealed my moss and water.
There was evidence that someone had been trying to drain one of the large puddles at the site, probably to see if any of the engines were at the bottom, this is highley irresponsible considering that there are still remains of the crew at this site.
One of the mainwheels
I have seen comments on other websites about the trees still showing signs
of damage caused by the crash. Although there was some trees surrounding
the crashsite that had their tops missing it was highly unlikely the
Halifax had caused this as although Kielder Forest existed at the time of
the crash the area on Glendhu Hill aound Marvin's Cleugh where the
crash occured had not
been planted yet. Even in 1955 the trees had only reached the north side of
(see maps below)
The clearing containing the crashsite. Note the damaged trees, some with their tops missing.
Map dated 1929, the red cross denotes the location of the Halifax crash, note the fork in Marvin's Cleugh
Map dated 1955,The forestry planting has only just reached the north side of Marvins Cleugh
As I had no time constraints, no limit on the number of photos I could take (digital instead of 35mm) and best of all no Bluebottles, I spent quite a bit of time looking around and taking photos.
Oil cooler from the Hercules engine very similar to the one on Cheviot(see here)
Large section of wingspar
Another tree that wasn't damaged by the crash
This shot shows how open the woods are now.
All of the stuff that used to be in the crater is now collected around the edge, again very irresponsible .
Some parts are gradually being recovered by moss and pine needles.
Stand still for long enough and you might get covered in moss
A hydraulic arm, possibly from the wheel well.
Everything will eventually dissapear under the mud and moss
The Halifax was painted black underneath and brown and green on top, evidence of each colour can be made out.
Another lump of wingspar.
Above and below:-A new memorial cross has recently been dedicated.
Lying in a streambed about 200 yards to the north of the main area of wreckage is the largest surviving piece which is a section of the engine nacelle where the main undercarriage retracted into. Still attached to it are pneumatic arms and a piece of the undercarriage assembly.
Above and below:-A pneumatic arm and piece of uncercarriage assembly, this part is outlined in red in the drawing below,and below the drawing it can also be seen on the photograph of an intact Halifax which was recovered from a lake and restored in Canada.
Another view of the large piece from the wheel well area of the engine nacelle.
Once finished with taking photos I headed back down Marvin's Cleugh but instead of going straight back to the bike I made a diversion across towards little Marvin's Cleugh to where I'd seen a photo of another piece of the Halifax lying. Unfortunately this area had been felled and replanted and the trees were more akin to what they were like on the other side of Marvins Cleugh on my first visit years ago. After battling through the foliage and falling down numerous unseen boggy ditches I eventually made it across to Little Marvins Cleugh and with no sign of the other part followed that back down to my bike.
The Sheepdog Cemetary 15 years later, looking a bit worse for wear and succuming to the moss.
Cycling back to the carpark I past the old Sheepdog Cemetary, as I was in no hurry I spent a bit of time tidying it up as the 'Deed Durg Cairn' had collapsed and the other headstones were in danger of being lost under the moss. My good 'deed' for the day.
Fabulously overengineered footbridge over the Lewisburn.
An impressive signpost to match the footbridge