I often wonder how many who climb that magnificent mountain Beinn Eighe and do not know that there is a plane crash on the mountain. So many walk by the Lancaster aircraft wreckage that lies in the wild and Cathedral like corrie Mhic Fhearchair. To me it is in one of the most impressive Corries in Scotland. The Loch and the foreboding Triple Buttress over 1000 feet high just paint a picture that on every visit you will never forget.
I have written several blogs made many journeys with relatives of the crew who died here in the hard winter of 1951. The aircraft hit the ridge on Beinn Eighe killing all the 8 crew. It took 3 days to get a rough area to search as there was few reports of where it could be. You have to remember this was 1951 the roads were basic there were no mobile phones and the equipment was poor. It took till Sept to locate the crew such was the depth of the snow.
It was a incident that changed not only RAF Mountain Rescue but also had implications for Civilian Rescue Teams in the future. Many lessons were learned and despite the criticism at this period the Kinloss team did there best. I had spoken to few involved mainly the late Joss Gosling who as a young lad on National Service was on the Callout. Joss was like many so unassuming of that era yet that incident effected him and others. He spoke often to me about these days and took marvellous photos of the incident in wild winter that are unique to this period.
This is especially relevant during Mental Health awareness week the effects of Trauma on Rescue Teams. In 1951 only a few years after the war few spoke about tragedies they had seen and only recently has these traumatic incidents been spoken about. Mountain Rescue nowadays has help available for team members and families which is a great improvement. Things are greatly improving but there is still lots to do.
I was asked to help with a film on the area and tell the story of the Lancaster crash. Hopefully my wee fee will go to Torridon MRT.
The weather was awful and we filmed in a lovely chalet along from Sheildaig. The rain was pouring down along with the wind but we filmed inside. I made the 2 hour journey early stopping to see the grand kids in Inverness then over to Torridon.
I was well looked after by the film crew and enjoyed our few hours in the chalet as the rain poured down. Lucky they had filmed yesterday in the Coire and got good weather. It’s an amazing story and a sad one but one that should be remembered.
Many locals helped bring the casualties of the hill by ponies but what a hard time all had. Of course as always there was many mistakes made but Mountain Rescue learned from them. It’s so good to see how things have developed nowadays with the local Torridon Team and all the others so professional despite being unpaid volunteers . How things have moved on in gear equipment and training yet the folk involved are still the same people and make my heart feel warm in these dark days.
The new slate memorial is in good condition and not obtrusive attached to the propellor at the crash site. Thanks to Joss’s family and Geoff one of the relatives of the crew.
I chatted for ages the film crew were lovers of wild places and we hit it off. It was a joy to work with them and see how much they enjoyed there work. I drove over to see my friend who lives nearby. The road was closed for over an hour when a lorry went off the road. It was impressive watching it being recovered by Loch Carron Garage no one was hurt. As normal there was no communications or signal on the road. Lots of vans and elite cars about many rushing driving to fast and the road is in a poor state. Such is the popularity of the NC 500. It was interesting to people watch ad the road was closed the driving rain and the poor lorry drivers digging the lorry out of the peat.
I was in no rush and got to Kalies we went out later to see a singer In Applecross hall. Adam Holmes is one of the brightest rising stars on the UK roots music scene, with influences from either side of the Atlantic mixing traditional and contemporary folk with his own brand of soul and Americana. He was excellent and great to be out again.
These halls are the life blood of small communities and money especially after COVID hard to keep going. Fundraising is hard and it’s good to be able to support them.
I headed back next day in the pouring rain we took the dog Islay for a quick wander up a wee hill. No wonder the area is so green Andy ewith the amount of rain that has fallen. The drive back was slow with vans potholes and wet roads. A busy few days now to get ready for Harris and hopefully St Kilda all in natures hands.
Unseen from the road, the majestic cliffs are hidden.
The long walk, views expanding as we climb.
Liathach brooding in the mist, is watching?
As usual we meet a family of deer
They have been there for many years
What have they seen?
Great cliffs sculptured by time and nature.
Wreckage, glinting in the sun.
The Cathedral of Beinn Eighe
This is a wonderful poignant place.
Only too those who look and see.
How mighty is this corrie?
This Torridon giant Beinn Eighe.
In memory of the 8 crew who sadly died.
Flt Lt H S Reid Second pilot Sgt R Clucas
Navigator Fg off R Strong
Signaller Lt P Tennison
Flt ENGINEER G Farquhar
Signallers Sgt J NaismithSgt W D BeckSgt J W Bell