Report and Photos courtesy of Chris Spencer.
Beware; we are watching you!.
AW Whitley LA837 on
(Distance covered =
7.5 mile/Ascent =+487m)
On 31st January 1943 this aircraft departed from RAF Kinloss on a cross country training flight. Whilst recovering to Kinlossthe aircraft flew into high ground near the summit of Carna’GhillieChearr in the Hills of Cromdale Moray, during poor weather. Sadly it is believed three of the aircrew died at the scene of the incident, one died two days later and one other survived his injuries.
We started our walk from the small car park that is located beside the bridge near the Mains of Inverouriewithin Strath Avon just a few miles north of Tomintoul. The weather though a little chilly was very spring like with clear views and some much needed sunshine; a great day to go wrecK hunting.
Road bridge beside the car park at Mains of Inverourie in Strath Avon
We followed the well signposted track towards the disused farm at Knock through fields of newly born lambs that were either taking a morning snooze in the sunshine or madly bouncing around like crazy possessed sheep. A lot of the land around the Cromdale Hills and Tomintoul is owned and managed by the Glenlivet Estate which is part of the Crown Estate, the good news is that they actively encourage the public to explore the stunning landscape, so thankfully there were no Farmers or Gamekeepers here screaming “Get off my land!”Whilst walking to the start of the landy track that goes up the hill from the Knock we noticed a few scary looking abominablesheep in the field. I believe they are Valais Blacknose and originate from Switzerland.
snow sheep, aka Valais Blacknose .
Talking of sheep on the way back down after our wreck visit we came across a wee lamb completely trappedunder one the strangest looking cattle grids I have ever seen. After much tugging and pulling to extract the lamb; and after chasing a tractor for a mile or so we finally got some assistance from the farmer’s wife and managed to safely drag it to the safety of its mother. Regrettably lamb chops are nowoff the menu!
Derelict steading and waterwheel at Knock Farmhouse
To get onto the Cromdale Hill ridge line we followed a zig zag landy track that runs parallel to the knock burn, it eventually fades away and becomes open moorland which then led us up onto a hill called the Carn Eachie that’s about 700 metres high.
Zig zaggy landrover track that lead onto the Cromdale Hill ridge with fine view to a snow capped Ben Rinnes
Walking on the Hills of Cromdale ridge with the Cairngorms in the far background
From the rounded summit of Carn Eachie; which had fantastic views all around, we made our way the short distance across easy ground towards the Whitley wrecksite. The small remains are located just a few hundred metres below Carnna' Ghillie Chearr.
Approaching the wreck site of the Whitley LA837 which can be just seen in the near distance.
The wreckage is mainly located in a shallow peat grough with some small bits and pieces lying about in much deeper groughs. Sadly there is not much left of the Whitley today, though a lot was recovered by the RAF shortly after the incident it would appear a lot has vanished since then; but to where?
Main area of Whitley wreckage.
A small aluminium fragment.
During our searching and photographing of the wreckage debris we noticed an E3D in a local orbit, perhaps they were keeping an eye on us? But what was stranger, is that it was a Saturday and the aircraft was actually serviceable!
An E3D Sentry watching our every move.
After spending an hour or so at the wreck site searching and having lunch we decided to take a further look down the hillside. There was a small possibility that snow, rain or wind may have pushed further bits down the slope and into the burn. Unfortunately we couldn’t find anything else, but there was no harm in having a look. We then simply retraced our steps back to the car via our distressed lamb that was stuck down the cattle grid.
Summit cairn of CarnEachie and the distant Cairngorms.