MUNRO ADVENTURE 2015 – DAY 47 ( 16th JUNE )
A GREY DAY OOT THE DAY
Carn Dearg – 1034 Metres Munro 98 “Red Hill”
Geal Charn -1132 Metres Munro 26 ” White Hill”
Aonach Beag – 1114 Metres Munro 38 “Little Hill”
Beinn Eibhinn – 1100 Metres Munro 48 ” Delightful Hill”
Ben Alder – 1143 Metres Munro 25 “Alder burn or rock water”
Beinn Bheoil – 1019 Metres Munro 112 “Hill Of The Mounth”
The forecast today was for dry conditions with cloud lifting off the summits in the morning, didn’t sleep that well so was up and about at 5.30 had a brew and a couple of breakfast bars and out into the grey morning at 6.10. Started by going past the private Culra Lodge then steeply up heathery slopes and very soon into the clag , on the way up the three most interesting things all day happened , first I came across a meadow pipits nest with 2 eggs,5 minutes later a grouse nest with 7 eggs and another 5 minutes a pair of ptarmigan with 6 very small fledglings , they weren’t happy with me being around and were swooping in front of me then playing the wounded game to distract me away from the chicks. I crossed over a steep snow bank and onto Carn Dearg summit in thick mist . A long easy descent to the col and I could just see the lochs either side of me before climbing the narrow ridge and up onto the plateau following the compass towards the summit. (This is a tricky area and in winter care is needed Heavy especially in descent) The sky opened up directly overhead for a brief spell and I thought that was the beginning of the change but it didn’t last, the visibility was about 50 metres but found the top easily enough. There was now a well established path to Aonach Beag and Beinn Eibhinn so no need to navigate , came back to the col between the 2 hills and found a path which led down towards Bealach Dubh but soon lost it so just picked my way down to the bottom. Had my first food and drink of the day before setting off up 500m of steep path less slopes and onto the Ben Alder plateau still in the thick clag so again it was compass work to find the summit. Now for the tricky bit of the day to find the descent route off the plateau down to the bealach far below , followed the corrie edge most of the way till I came to the gap between the crags and found the zig zag path down. I was below the cloud level and again it looked like clearing but no it came in again just as quick. Last summit of the day and again a reasonable path to Beinn Bheoil , continued down the ridge for about 1 and a half miles before descending to pick up the path back to the bothy which unfortunately was on other side of the river, as I only had on trainers and my feet were damp anyway I picked up penny and just waded across , finished off what food I had left fetched my rucksack out of the bothy and my bike from round the back and a pleasant downhill cycle back to the van. The hills never did clear today the cloud level just sat at 850m all day but it was dry, 15 minutes after getting back the heavens opened up and it poured rain .
Today’s totals: 27.1 mls, 2137m ascent, 8 hrs 17 mins
140 Munros to date.
There is an amazing story of a Vickers Wellington 10/12/1942 that crashed south eastern flank of Geal Charn . One survived in mid winter and went for help – what a story that few have heard.
The crew, from B Flight of No.20 OTU, were on a day navigation training flight from RAF Lossiemouth. The planned route was from base to a point some 30 miles east of Peterhead – Crieff – Friockheim, near Arbroath – Maud, near Peterhead – base. At some point the aircraft deviated from this route and at about 15:00 while heading in an easterly to north easterly direction (some 40 miles off course) flew into Leacann na Brathan on the south eastern flank of Geal-charn which at the time was snow covered and enveloped in blizzard conditions.
The only survivor of the crash, Sgt Underwood, after checking for signs of life from his crew made his way off the mountain and arrived at Corrour Lodge in a very poor state. He was taken in and the next day transferred to hospital in Fort William.
After the aircraft had failed to return from its exercise a search was organised but nothing was found before the report of the rear gunner reaching help was received.
Following the recovery of the bodies of those who had been killed the task of clearing the site was given to No.56 Maintenance Unit at Inverness. They inspected the wreck and decided to abandon it until the spring of 1943 before any work could begin. The recovery operation eventually began in July 1943 with a camp being established some distance from the site, assistance was rendered by army personnel of the 52nd Division, Scottish Command. They provided 25 pack mules and a 3 ton lorry. With these most of the wreckage was removed from the site, but today a reasonable amount still remains.
The most well-known wreckage is that which was dumped in Bealach Dubh to the south of the crash site and beside the path from Ben Alder cottage to Culra bothy but the crash site lies some distance further up the mountain and it marked by sections of airframe the two exhaust collector rings and one of the aircraft’s engines.
There was an aircraft wheel at the dam at Loch Ericht for many years . we used to see it on the way to the base at Beinn Alder Lodge. Mr Oswold who used to be the Keeper and George Bruce told me of this tale.
For many years there was an aircraft wheel at the Dalwhinnie end of the loch. I am sure it came from a Vickers Wellington L7867/ JM -Z that crashed on the 10 Dec 1942 from RAF Lossiemouth. It was on a Navigational Exercise and much of the wreckage lies on the southern slopes of Geal-chàrn, in an area labelled Leacann na Brathan on the OS map. The wreckage is in three debris fields, with the lowest lying (containing a few twisted pieces of fuselage) right on the main path going over the Bealach Dubh between Ben Alder and Geal-chàrn at an altitude of about 730m. It was here that much of the aircraft was brought down by mules and I am sure that is why the wreckage is there on the path? I am sure this is where the wheel came from as the road passes the point where I used to see the aircraft wheel. This is the details of the crew, one survived and made his way to Corrour for help, what a trip that must have been.
OS 10-figure grid refs (GPS):
NN 48049 73196
NN 48072 73585
NN 48223 73680
What a tale incredible story.