Getting the Wind up!
Spitfires X4614,
AR254 and P8276 on Kings Seat Hill.
(Distance covered = 4.3 mile/Ascent =+519m)

The Westpark Monthly Competition at Denny is, as the name suggests, held every month and this one was also Heather's first competition of the year giving me the opportunity to do my first expedition into the hills of the year.

There are two crashsites I know of in the vicinity of Denny, a Percival Prentice on the Kilsyth Hills which I'd already visited and a Fairy Firefly on Meickle Bin which I'd been to numerous times, so I started searching for somewhere to go a little farther away and came across stories of a formation of 3 Spitfires that had crashed in the Ochill Hills above a town called Dollar. As it turned out Dollar was only 15 miles from Denny so easily within range.
As Blueberry Esmerelda Muffin II was on sick leave due to a dose of MOT-itus we had to borrow my youngest Son's car, unflatteringly named 'The fag Wagon' by my eldest Son. With me, my wife, Heather and Hayley, my hiking stuff and all their Highland Dancing gear it was a bit of a squeeze but we made it.
There's two obvious routes to Kings Seat Hill where the three Spitfires crashed, one parking at Tillicoultry and going up the west flank and one parking at Castle Campbell above Dollar and going up the east flank. As the crashsite is on the Dollar side of the hill I chose to park in the Castle Campbell carpark.

The Fag Wagon parked at Castle Campbell

I don't usually go into the hills looking for wrecks when there's snow on the ground as the likely hood is any wreckage will be buried, but I knew from researching this crashsite on the interweb that there was a memorial onsite and not much chance of finding any wreckage anyway so the snow wasn't going to make much difference on this occasion.

Kings Seat hill on the right

Castle Campbell used to be called Gloom Castle, it sits at the bottom of a Glen called Glen of Sorrow, below a hill called Gloom hill. Despite all the despairing names it is a lovely place even when it was covered in snow and on this day freezing cold and also as I was to find out, Windy!.

Castle Campbell, ancestral home of the Campbell Clan.

From Castle Campbell the route to Kings Seat Hill heads off up the Glen of Sorrow. The Glen is quite deep in its lower reaches and the path makes it way uphill using wooden walkways and bridges, passing some dramatic waterfalls on the way.

A section of walkway making its way up the Glen of Sorrow

After following the Glen for a while one last wooden footbridge is crossed then some steps brought the path out of the top of the woods and into the wind.

One of several Waterfalls passed in the Glen of Sorrow.

When wind hits a Hill it speeds up as it goes up and over it, the fact that I was at the bottom of the hill and it was proving hard work to walk into the wind did not bode well! The tourist path goes off to the left out of the woods but I continued up the Glen of Sorrow, hoping to get some shelter from the wind for as long as possible.

The Glen of Sorrow out of the top of the woods.

After battling my way against the wind to about half way up the hill, crouching down during gusts then progressing as quickly as possible during lulls, I thought my plan had failed but I realised when I joined the tourist path further up the hill that the Glen of Sorrow had actually been sheltered by comparison.

Lumpy bit of hill called The Banks of Dollar.

Once onto the tourist path I must have only been 200yards short of reaching the memorial but there was now no shelter whatsoever and it was proving impossible to make any headway, as to progress any further uphill meant walking directly into the wind. The very strong wind was not the only hurdle I was now facing, the snow on the hill had been lying a while and was now hard and icy, the wind was blowing these little ice crystal into my face at quite a high velocity and it stung.

Drifting snow or to be more accurate, drifting ice.

The only relief from being sandblasted by the ice crystals was to stand with my back to the wind, the gusts of wind were now coming close to lifting me off my feet and the gusts were also lasting a lot longer. I hunkered down in the hope the onslaught would ease off a bit but it didn't.
When walking up in the Hills I always make sure to stay in my 'comfort zone'. Standing on the side of Kings Seat Hill in gale force winds and being blasted by wind swept ice I was definately no longer in my comfort zone, so knowing I would have plenty of opportunities to return and have another go, I called it a day and beat a hasty retreat back down the hill.

To be continued.


A couple of Months later I was back, this time in  Blueberry Esmerelda Muffin II, the Pug, (peugeot, not canine).
Things didn't start off well as while driving up the very narrow quite steep lanes leading up to Castle Cambell the usual faultlessly reliable Pug decided to misbehave and the gear selector cable broke leaving me unable to go up the hill and another car following about two foot behind prevented rolling back down.

After a hasty repair involving a piece of wire and some pliers I made it to the carpark, where it was just a case of retracing my footsteps from my previous visit which probably would have actually been possible if the snow hadn't melted away.

Approaching the memorial

The weather on this day was a vast improvement on the last time I was here but the top of he hill was covered in clag which sort of spoilt the view a little and the sun failed to make an appearance.

The momument on Kings Seat Hill

I had a quick root around the general area of the monument but didn't really expect to find any remains as it's a well trampled area and a piece of Spitfire would be an attractive find for any 'respectable' souvenier hunter so any pieces would have up and left long ago.

Almost a view but not quite

Three Spitfires flew into King Seat Hill, although they were flying in formation they would not have all crashed on exactly the same spot so although I had a grid ref for the monument I  didn't have any for the actual crashsites, although they were probably close by.

The Monument sits right next to the tourist path to the summit of King Seat Hill

I don't know if the Monument was placed where it is because it is sort of in the middle of the three crashsites, on one of the crashsites or simply put beside the path to the summit so more people would see it. So as I only found the momument I have only counted this as 'one' on my list of crashsites visited instead of three. Perhaps in the future I will have  another visit if I ever find out the exact locations.

Heading downhill out of the clag, the ghostly figures of a large walking group coming up the hill can just be made out.

As I was leaving the memorial I could hear the voices of a large walking group coming up the hill, as I was quite keen to get down the hill and out of the clag and couldn't really be arsed to exchange niceties with all of them I walked about 50 yards off the path and was able to sneak past without being noticed.

A photo taken from where I was forced to turn back on my first attempt

Back down out of the clag it wasn't sunny but also it wasn't raining, so it was a nice pleasant and cool walk back to the carpark and I also had company in the form of one of the large walking group who had turned back because she didn't feel well. She went home that day knowing an awfull lot more about all the crashsites I had visited and how well my Daughter was doing in the Highland Dancing Competitions than when she left!

Approaching the other side of The Banks of Dollar

The memorial is above the large snowbank in the centre that is partly concealed by the clag

Back at the Carpark the only thing that I had to worry about was if my bodged gear selector cable would last the 170 mile trip home.