Lochnagar Munro/Climbs Memories Good and Sad and the Canberra Aircraft Crash on Carn an t-Sagairt Mor

Lochnagar Munro/Climbs Memories Good and Sad –  the Canberra Aircraft Crash on Carn an t-Sagairt Mor 

1978 West to East wild days on Lochnagar.

1978 West to East wild days on Lochnagar.

I have had some great days in this area it was a well-used stomping ground for me in my days in RAF Mountain Rescue.  Lochnagar was a favourite cutting my teeth on some of its famous climbs when at RAF Buchan on the East Coast. In winter it is a wild place and I have had some epics including a huge avalanche in the 80’s. My Blog tells that tale.

1984 Lochnagar Teallach

In winter it is an incredible place and the long walk in made it a place to savour and once we climbed 4 days in a row on this great cliff. I was caught also in a wild storm after climbing West Gully and had a real epic getting off the wind came from nowhere and it was full survival mode and not getting the rope of till back at the car it was frozen solid.

Reaburns Gully

Reaburns Gully

I also enjoyed the classic rock climb Eagles Ridge on many occasions what a grand climb and a few times we would finish with the 5 Munros making it a big mountaineering day, Nick Sharpe now a Mountain Guide in Canada took troops on this classic and the nipped over a few Munros and on to Creag an Dubh Loch for another big rock climb. This was because I stupidly asked him to get more hill walking time in how daft was I. The poor troops had a day to remember, memories they would never forget.  Mr Robertson the local keeper in my early years was a great friend of the teams and we made use of the tracks in these days to gain quick access on call – outs. Creag an Dubh Loch is another huge cliff and also incredible in winter what fun we have had even a huge lower down the cliff 1000 feet plus some interesting situations. It is an area neglected as many are on the chase for the Munros and miss this massive cliff, well worth taking a detour and enjoying the views.

Mark and Neil sadly missed

Mark and Neil sadly missed


Twenty Years ago last month I lost two great friends on Lochnagar Neil Main and Mark Sinclair who fell from Parrell B Gully in winter, both were killed. It was a tragic time for us all and both at the time were climbing so well and at the top of their game. They were recovered by my great friends Breamar MRT and the 202 Sqn Sea king.  This is when I really needed friends and the care of Graham Gibb and the Team at Breamar gave me and Marks wife will never be forgotten. I saw another side of Mountain Rescue that made me very proud to know such people.

Mark Sinclair>

Mark Sinclair> Miss a great friend – Look well to each step.

These were dark days for us all it was a hard winter  that year with some terrible tragedies many I was involved in. Losing Mark and Neil made me take a few months of the Rescue Team and the week later I lost another friend Paul Williams rock Climbing in the Peak District.

Neil Main a top young climber and great pal/

Neil Main a top young climber and great pal/

I had to go back to Lochnagar over the years  and even climbed a few routes in winter.  It is still an incredible moving place with on the right weather an incredible atmosphere and place that means so much to me. I regularly have a wander into the Corrie when on these hills and how the memories come flooding back.


The 5 Munros can be a good day in winter hard going.


Lochnagar (Cac Carn Beag) (1155m, Munro 20) ‘pass of the small cairn’

Carn a’Choire Bhoidheach (1110m, Munro 42) ‘hill of the beautiful corrie’

Carn an t-Sagairt Mor (1047m, Munro 84) ‘big hill of the priest’

Cairn Bannoch (1012m, Munro 117) ‘peaked hill’
Broad Cairn (998m, Munro 142) Lochnagar : ‘little hill of laughter or noise’

The Lochnagar 5 ‘This group of five Munros forms a high-level circuit around Loch Muick. The highest peak is Cac Carn Beag, which looks down into the dark coire of Lochnagar below, which is a favourite winter climbing area. The other summits are less characterful, but many discoveries are made when roaming over them, including wildlife, waterfalls and plane-wreckage. The second site I visited is perhaps the most spectacular air wreck site in the Scottish mountains. An RAF Canberra jet crashed on the summit of Carn an t-Sagairt Mor in 1956, Killing both crew and a very large amount of the wreckage still lies scattered around the summit area. The debris field covers an area of about 600m by 600m, centred on the flat 1047m summit of Carn an t-Sagairt Mor, with large pieces to the north, west and east of the summit, some lying in boulder fields away from the main walking paths, down to an altitude of about 960m. It used to make an interesting navigation exercise during the hill day for the RAF mrt team members  This is From the Site Air Crash Sites Scotland

Wing of Canberra on ridge

Wing of Canberra on ridge!

“On the way, you should encounter some scattered plane wreckage, including a large section of wing. These pieces are the remains of a Canberra jet that crashed into the hill in 1956 (more info A good amount of the remains of all three of the Canberra’s main wheels are still at the site, including one that is standing upright and in excellent condition – this is perhaps one of the most unusual pieces of air wreckage of all the crash sites in the Scottish mountains. Remains of parts of the Canberra’s Rolls-Royce Avon jet engines and wings are still visible as well.”

RAF Kinloss Archives

22/11/56 Carn an t Sagairt Mor44/208844 Search for a missing Canberra aircraft and the recovery of 2 Crew. One Of Ray Sunshine’s Seftons first call out.  Locals & RAF Leuchars RAF Kinloss on call out . Crew recovered with assistance of a RAF Sycamore Helicopter! Early Rescue/ Recovery in the mountain by Helicopter.



1956 Sycamore helicopter used to recover the crew of the Canberra that crashed on the hill.

1956 Sycamore helicopter used to recover the crew of the Canberra that crashed on the hill.

“From the summit  there are excellent views at the site towards Lochnagar and the southern Cairngorms, and this site one of the most likely to be encountered by hillwalkers in Scotland, as it is so close the main path to a Munro summit.”


Great hills great memories and lots of interesting things to see, there is also the remains of another aircraft on the way to Lochnagar!

Great Days on Lochnagar with Bill Batson.

Great Days on Lochnagar with Bill Batson.

Dark Lochnagar

The tight road, stags and hinds nearby.

Park and leave the woods.

Mr Oswald the cheery keeper long gone.

The bothy still stands, the sign still there.

The flats, more deer and wild animals.

The Royal bothy, unused?

Scots pines, the small wood

Safety after a long day.

The grind up the track never- ending.

Familiar names the ladders, fox’s well, comforting.

Then the view   Dark Lochnagar

Brooding formidable,

Historical and familiar climbs.

Summer and winter battles.

Steep  granite and dark gully’s.

Laughter, joy and sorrow.

Wind, rain, snow and tears

No photos today!

Sit in the peace and wildness.


Dark Lochnagar


For Neil & Mark Heavy Whalley March 2013


About heavywhalley.MBE

After dinner speaker Lecturer and Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 36 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 4 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer and loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Aircraft incidents, Articles, Enviroment, Equipment, Friends, Gear, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Rock Climbing, Scottish winter climbing., SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering, Weather. Bookmark the permalink.

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