The missing Mountain Bike
Vickers Viscount G-AOHI and
Westland Wessex XT674 on Ben More
(Distance covered =
8.0 mile (map)-15mile (fitbit)/Ascent =+1687m)
It was the weekend of the All England Championships held in Corby. I usually have to take Heather to this one but as she had now passed her driving test and had her own car she was able to make her own way there.
This as just as well as on the Sunday I had arranged to meet the son and daughter of the USAF Pilot who was lost when his F100 Super Sabre crashed in Glen Strae*, to take them up to see the crashsite. As I also had the saturday free I decided to go up a day early and take a walk up another mountain not too far along the road from Glen Strae, to check out two crashsites up there.
Ben More taken from just above the road. This hill is very deceptive, distance wise.
I was parked up at the bottom of Ben More and ready to go at 5:30am on the saturday morning, so a lovely early start mean't I'd have plenty of time to look for the two crashsites, especially the Vickers Viscount which was, according to some reports I'd read, scattered over the summit of the mountain for some distance.
View along Glen Dochart and the western end of Loch Dochart.
Ben More is a very deceptive hill in that the summit doesn't look to be all that far away, but that is definately not the case and it is a long old trudge to reach the top, but luckily for me I had the distraction of looking for bits of aeroplane on the way up.
The summit of Ben More, so near yet so far away!
Although the Viscount crashed near the summit of Ben More there is a sizeable lump that has found it's way down to the woods just above the road so this was my first objective of the day.
Above and below:-Large piece of Viscount, it is the loading bay door from the rear end of the aircraft.
The Aircraft that crashed on Ben More. The cargo bay door that can be found on Ben More can be seen opened near the tail. (photo by kind permission of Charlie Stewart)
After photographing the cargo door section I had a good search around for another part from the Viscount that I had seen photos of on the interweb, but even though I had a 10 digit grid reference I could find no sign of it so headed off up the hill towards the area where the Wessex crashed, passing a couple of other bits of Viscount on the way.
Another piece of the Viscount lying in the bed of a small burn.
As I gained a bit of altitude things started to become a bit gloomy as I entered a cloud but luckily I soon emerged out the top of it back into the sunshine. It was at this point that I decided to have my treat. The day before Heather had made a rather lovely Strawberry Protein Milkshake, I had filled a 1ltr Lucozade bottle with this and frozen it so that by the time I was on my way up Ben More the following day it would have melted and been lovely and cool, great idea if only I hadn't left it in the boot of the car!
Above and below:-Ascending Ben More in and out of the clouds.
I spent a long time searching the hillside for a scar where the Wessex had burned out after it crashed but managed to find nothing, I managed to miss a memorial plaque that is fixed to a rock as well. I did get a comparison photo to compare with one taken at the time of the crash but although it was close it wasn't close enough to go on my list as a probable!
My photo taken in 2018 on the left and the one taken at the time of the crash on the right**.
My plan after failing to find the Wessex had been to head up to the summit
and look for the bits of Viscount up there, then make my way back down the
mountain via a steep gulley to the west called Sloc Curraidh.
I had read a walkers report written by two hikers who had inadvertantly strayed into Sloc Curraidh on their way to the summit, along with their report they had posted a photo of a pile of wreckage they happened upon in there, which they described as "The skeletal remains of a mountain bike."
It was quite clearly a pile of wreckage from the Viscount.
Photo taken looking west from Sloc Curraidh, its so steep it's dropped off the bottom of the photo!
Another photo taken in Sloc Curraidh, this time looking north.
When I reached the tourist path up to Ben More summit I decided to head across a bit farther and check out how steep Sloc Curraidh actually was, trouble is I spotted a bit of wreckage, so went over to investigate and get a photo, I then spotted another piece and did the same. This ended up with me walking up Sloc Curraidh to the summit, which in hindsight was just as well as it was steep so would have been a lot trickier coming down than it was going up.
The first piece of wreckage I spotted in Sloc Curraidh.
Above and next 3 photos:-There was a few pieces scattered in these rocks right up to the crags.
Although I found a few fragments on my way up Sloc Curraidh I didn't find
the 'Skeletal remains of the mountain bike'. When I returned home I read
the walkers report again and it turned out they had been to a cache on
Meall Daimh that was over to the south of Sloc Curraidh, they were then
heading north to regain the footpath to the summit and only crossed Sloc
Currraidh, whereas I thought they'd walked up it. So it would seem the
Mountain Bike was downhill of where I entered the gully so I had managed to
miss that as well!
Never mind, it means I've now got an excuse to go back to Ben More to have another look for the Wessex memorial and the missing Mountain Bike!
An electrical connector found in Sloc Curraidh.
Above Sloc Curraidh before the top of Ben More is reached is a relatively flat grassy area then a rocky boulder strewn area just below the summit. Somewhere here is possibly the remains of one of the engines, I didn't find it, all I managed to find was a large electrical motor hidden behind one of the large boulders.
Electrical motor or generator.
It would seem it was going to be one of those days when I wasn't going to find anything I was looking for and this was also the case up on the summit where, despite having seen several photos on the interweb of pieces up there I managed to find none of them. I did manage to find the gouge where the Viscount had first hit the hill and there were several fragments lying in that.
Above and next 4 photos:-The impact gouge containing a few fragments near the summit of Ben More where the Viscount first collided with the hill.
After finding the impact gouge I went over to the trig point on the summit and did a bit of bonus Munro Bagging. Ben More is actually 16th on the list of Munros in order of height.
Trig point on Ben More summit.
View east from the summit. The Viscount hit the hill just beyond the flatish rocky area on the right.
As I was leaving the top of Ben More I received a welcoming phonecall to inform me Heather had won at Corby to become the English Adult Champion for the second time, this put me in a very good mood to tackle the very long trudge back down the tourist path to the car.
Again it doesn't look too far to the bottom of the hill but this path just seemed to go on forever and ever!
It was about 9pm by the time I arrived back at the car. I was planning on stopping at a campsite for the night before meeting Jim and Kat the following morning but before setting off I decided to have a 5 minute nap in the car, I didn't wake up until 6:45am.
**--photo of wessex tail rotor sourced from:-https://heavywhalley.files.wordpress.com