Supermarine Spitfire P9320 on Gualann.
(Distance covered = 6.6mile/Ascent =+723m)

 The second competition of 2017 in Paisley, this time the BATD Championships. I decided to implement my Duchal Moor plan which I'd ditched for the UKA Championships at Paisley three weeks earlier.

 Yet again I changed my mind at the last minute after I was given a map reference for a Spitfire crashsite above Loch Lomond.  This site was not too far from the Lancaster on Conic Hill* so If I'd known about it 3 weeks earlier I could have visited both on the same trip, however it was such a nice walk along the West Highland Way with spectacular views over Loch Lomond I was kind of pleased for a reason to go back.

Above and below:-Massive carpark at Balmaha, right next to the West Highland Way

This time, to make it an entirely different walk I parked in Balmaha and followed the West Highland way east up the steep path onto Conic Hill. I didn't really need to go to the top of Conic Hill but I did anyway as I had plenty of time and I needed the exercise.

Above and below:-The path up Conic Hill didn't seem too steep at first.

Above and below:-Things got decidedly steeper once these steps were reached.

I suffer from Osteoarthritis in both my knees but I just switch off from the pain when I go hillwalking, that is unless I encounter steps; my knees do not like steps; my knees did not like climbing up Conic Hill from Balmaha!

These steps wern't too bad.

These ones were!

As well as negotiating the steps I had to avoid tripping over one of the many tourists, day trippers and dogs who were on their way up or down the hill. I did feel a little sorry for all the little dogs who must have thought the steps were a very long steep hurdle race!

Chance for a breather after the steps before another steep section is encountered.

Luckily the wooden steps do not go all the way up the hill, there is a section of boulder steps further up but I was able to bypass most of those.

Boulder steps, the summit seen ahead is not the summit.

I was hoping the weather would be a little sunnier than on my last visit so I could get a decent photo of the views over Loch Lomond. Although it stayed mainly bright and occasionally sunny on Conic Hill, where I was, there was a haze hanging over the Loch which didn't shift all day.

I think those two men were trying their best to photobomb all my photos, they are on 6 so far including this one.

There they are again.

The West Highland Way goes straight on here, the path to the right goes to what most people regard as the summit, but it's not, it's a false summit, the highest point of the hill is further along the ridge.

Where I'm going is straight ahead hidden in the clag.

above and below:-Making my way over Conic Hill along the West Highland Way.

 I dropped off the West Highland Way at the same point I did 3 weeks previous but this time I was heading in a different direction. The going up towards Gualann looked pretty nasty from Conic Hill so I had a sit down on a boulder and had a scan with my binoculars to see if I could spot an easy route to follow.

The Spitfire crashsite is next to the hill to the right on the skyline.

I couldn't see any easy looking paths up to Guallan but just over the Burn of Mar was what looked like a rough quad track going in the right direction so I headed for that. Once over the Burn of Mar I instead followed alongside a small burn as there was nice grassy sheeptracks beside it which made for very easy going.

Crossing the Burn of Mar.

Once I reached the head of the small burn I walked up just below a ridge which ran all the way up to the location of the Spitfire crash, again there was some nice grassy sheep tracks to follow. This ridge along with Conic Hill and Guallan is part of the Highland Boundry Fault Line.
The Highland Boundry Fault traverses Scotland from Arran on the west coast to Stonehaven in the east. It separates two distinctly different physiographic and geological terrains known as the Highlands and the Lowlands. So as I was walking on the northern side of this ridge I was in the Highlands.

The Spitfire crashed near the base of the bump up ahead.

This bump.

As with the nearby Lancaster this crashsite had been excavated by Dumfries and Galloway Aviation Museum and one of their members had told me they had buried any parts that they didn't recover. Because of this I wasn't expecting to find anything but went for a look anyway as I figured it would be a nice walk at least. I also thought it was going to prove difficult to locate the spot, especially if the vegetation had regrown.

Above and next 8 photos:-Crashsite of Supermarine Spitfire MK1a P9320, two sizeable panels lying on the surface made it a lot easier to find than expected.

Above and next two photos:-Remains of a fuel tank on Gualann above, and an intact fuel tank below with its location on a Spitfire shown below that.

This restored fuel tank is from a later mark of Spitfire and is is slightly different but it is still obvious it's the same part.

 View west from where I sat on a rock above the crashsite to eat my butties.The haze over Loch Lomond still hasn't shifted.

Cessna Caravan G-LAUD belonging to Loch Lomond Seaplanes flying over Gualann

I considered returning by a different route but that would involve a couple of miles walking alongside the main road so instead I just retraced my route out. I could have avoided going back over Conic Hill but again decided it would be that little bit extra exercise and those few more calories burnt off.

Nice views across to Conic Hill and Loch Lomond. Lancaster PB456* crashed on the flat area to the right of Conic Hill.

Following the same little burn back down to the Burn of Mar.

Random bit of wildlife photography, some flowers growing beside the little burn.

Back on the West Highland Way.

Above and below:- Crashsite of Avro Lancaster PB456* seen from the West Highland Way.

I would summise from comments I've seen on the internet and the fact that on my way down from Conic Hill I passed a group on their way up the hill armed with Metal Dectectors and shovels, that the Lancaster crashsite on Conic Hill is popular with amateur metal detectorists. I'm not sure that 'metal detectorists' is the correct plural for a group of people who engage in metal detecting, so as these ones are highley likely to be digging here without permission or a licence from the MOD I will say the correct collective noun in this instance is  'Dicks with Metal Detectors'

Still not sunny over Loch Lomond, perhaps the forboding clouds make for a more dramatic photo than if it was blue skies and sunny?

Despite appearances this is not a path popular with Lemmings.

View along the Highland Boundry fault line which Conic Hill and Guallan are a part of.

Back to the boulder steps, the two people ahead must have been in their 70's, hope I can still make it up hills when I'm that old!

Just as I reached the steep flight of wooden steps on my way down the hill I was subjected to a dose of instant Karma. A group of teenage girls passed me on their way up the hill wearing only shorts, tshirts and lovely designer trainers, just as I thought to myself, "silly bitches will slip and break their ankles wearing those", I promptly put my size 10 hiking boot on a loose boulder and fell over, much to their amusement. The balance of Karma was restored however when, as I arrived back at the car and most likely they arrived at the summit, it started chucking it down with big fat heavy rain.

*--Lancaster PB456 crashsite