MUNRO ADVENTURE 2015 DAY 40 ( 9th JUNE ) – Ben Avon, Beinn a’Bhuird, Beinn a’ Chaorainn, Beinn Bhreac

DAY 40 ( 9th JUNE )
Ben Avon – 1171 metres Munro 17  “Bed of the Yellow Stag”

Beinn a’Bhuird –  1196 metres – Munro 11   “Hill of the Table”
Beinn a’ Chaorainn –  Munro 11 – 1082 “Hill of the Rowan”
Beinn Bhreac – 931 metres  Munro 249 –  “Speckled Hill”

After having tea we drove round to Kelloch so I could get dropped off for a 3 day bothy trip , I thought what harm are we doing if we just drove up the private road a little way so on we went and 2 miles later came to the end of the decent track ,what a bonus as by now it was 7.45 in the evening , loaded up the big rucksack said my goodbyes to Shona and off in search of the secret howf, just over a hour and 3 miles on I found it and had it all to myself
Had a brew and if bed by 9.30.

The Secret Howf Cairngorms!

The Secret Howf Cairngorms!

I got a 3.45 wake up call from a very chirpy Ouzel which lasted 20 minutes , Back to sleep and up at 7 had breakfast and away at 8 up the excellent new path which took me all way to the col below Ben Avon, left my rucksack here and headed up towards the summit tors where I caught up with a fellow hiker and we carried on together to the top , not a breath of wind today and it was a pleasure to hang around and take in the superb views today . We descended and carried on together to Beinn a’ Bhuird where we stopped for lunch , again in the sunshine .

Ben Avon

Ben Avon

We parted company here as I was heading to Beinn a’Chaorainn and he was going to the Hutchison bothy where I was also but later on. It was a pretty well path less route all the way to the Moine Bhealaidh where I left my rucksack again and did a out and back to the summit , back to the rucksack again and moved to where my descent route for the bothy was , again left the bag and then a bog trot to gain the heathery final ridge of Beinn Bhreac which had a excellent view down the Glen of Quoich. Back to the rucksack and down into the Lairg Laoigh and the path up the bothy where I met Dave again. Seen loads of grouse families today and also a young Doteral which I got to within 10 metres of.
Today’s totals: 20.18 mls – 1453m ascent – 9 hrs 11 mins

116 Munros to date.

Graeme and Penny had a great few days in magnificent weather and seeing these great peaks in good weather must be great and I get more envious than ever reading their daily progress. This is a superb area and there is great climbing in the massive  Corrie Of Ben A Bhuird – An Garbh Corrie with The Classic Squareface and Mitre Ridge  are great routes to do on this crag. These cliffs are nor seen easily from the plateau but it is worth looking into this huge Cavern of a Corrie.

Mitre Ridge what a cliff.

Mitre Ridge what a cliff.

Many years ago in Mountain Rescue Days we could drive onto the plateau now this is no longer possible( thankfully). These are incredible mountain routes and what a situation to be in with snow field at times baring the way in the climbs.



This is a rough wild Corrie with the sharp Cairngorm granite and the big cliffs. The climb Squareface was first climbed by that incredible man Tom Patey and is as described in Classic Rock ” as a secluded jewel typical of Pateys discoveries in the mid 50’s. Those who make the effort will not disappointed. I was so lucky doing many routes in here and even a couple in winter what a place!


Squareface in the shadow!

Missing Oxford aircraft  PH404 from 311 Squadron – Beinn A’ Bhuird

On January 10th 1945 at 1045 hrs, Oxford PH404 took off from RAF Tain on the North East coast of Scotland bound for RAF Hornchurch near London. The weather in Tain at that time was reported to have been good with blue sky, no clouds and no wind. However, the met forecast was apparently for adverse weather. On-board the aircraft were five airmen from 311 (Czech) Squadron which was based at Tain, four Pilots and a Wireless Operator/Air Gunner.

Cheetah engines from the Oxford

Cheetah engines from the Oxford – Photo J Ritchie 

Squadron Leader Karel Kvapil – Pilot
Flying Officer Leo Linhart – Pilot
Flying Officer Jan Vella – Pilot
Flying Officer Valter Kauders – Wireless Operator/Air Gunner
Warrant Officer Rudolph Jelen – Pilot

The flight was not an operational one. It is believed that F/O Jan Vella was travelling to London to receive his DFC award, F/O Linhart, S/Ldr Kvapil and F/O Kauders are believed to have been taking some leave, and W/O Jelen was detailed to return the aircraft from RAF Hornchurch to RAF Tain.

The aircraft failed to arrive at RAF Hornchurch, and no record could be found of it having landed at any other airbase. It was believed that Oxford PH404 must have crashed in the sea since no trace of any wreckage had been reported.

It was not until August 19th 1945, that the fate of Oxford PH404 and her crew was finally known when the wreckage was discovered by two hill walkers.

Port engine rear elevation

The men who unwittingly found the aircraft were Dr James Bain, a teacher in Elgin, and Flight Lieutenant Archie Pennie who was in the RAF but who was at the time taking a few days leave at his mothers in Elgin. Long-time friends and both keen hill walkers, they had decided to spend their Sunday climbing two mountains in the Cairngorms, namely Beinn a Bhuird (3924 ft / 1196 m) and neighbouring Ben Avon (3843 ft / 1171 m).

Ben a' Bhuird Memorial.

Ben a’ Bhuird Memorial.

They set out at mid-morning from Inchrory, and on approaching the summit of Beinn a Bhuird they found some aircraft debris and soon afterwards part of a wing. Finally, they discovered the remains of the wreck of the Oxford PH404, and alarmingly the bodies of five airmen.

One can only imagine the horror of that awful find high in the Cairngorms at the end of  the war but at least the families would have the knowledge that their loved ones had been located and were no longer missing!  There is still plenty of wreckage on the mountain and I wonder how many know the tragic story!

There is another crash on Ben A’ Bhuird with a memorial in Braemar to aircrew who lost their lives

Braemar Memorial

Braemar Memorial

Wellington L7775 on Beinn a’Bhuird, Cairngorms.

On 24th October 1940 the crew of this aircraft were undertaking a training flight when, at 21.00hrs while flying in the Braemar area, the aircraft flew into the side of Beinn a’Bhuird mountain which was covered in snow at the time. The pilot believed that he was flying into a bank of cloud rather than the ground. Upon striking the ground on Bruach Mohr, just south of the South Top of Beinn a’Bhuird, the aircraft ploughed its way up hill and came to rest on a reasonably flat part of the mountain. The two airmen who died as a result of this accident are listed first while though who survived are listed below.

Second Pilot – P/O Herbert Martin Coombs RAFVR (84954). KILLED. Aged 28, of Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol. Buried Dyce Old Churchyard, Aberdeenshire.

Wireless Operator / Air Gunner (U/T) – Sgt Frank Hutson RAFVR (975183). Killed. Buried Sheffield (Crookes) Cemetery, Yorkshire.

Pilot – P/O Douglas Veale Gilmour RNZAF (36240), of Epsom, Auckland, New Zealand.

? – Sgt A W Milroy (Possibly Alfred Wilson Milroy RAFVR (745713)?)

Navigator – Sgt Kenneth Winchcombe Bordycott RAFVR (755783). Of Shirley, Southampton. Injured.

? – Sgt George Ronald Lyon RAFVR (970987), of Moston, Manchester. Injured.

Air Gunner – Sgt J A Sparks. Probably John Adam Sparks RAFVR (970251). Of Aberdeen.


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, Enviroment, Friends, Hill running and huge days!, Mountaineering, Munros, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Wildlife. Bookmark the permalink.

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