Assynt – The Anson Memorial – Aeroplane flats and a high ridge walk Beinne Uidhe and Glas Bheinn 776

This freize of mountains.

“This frieze of mountains.” Assynt a magical land of great peaks and magnificent scenery and wildness.

“this frieze of mountains, filed
on the blue air — Stac Polly,
Cul Beag, Cul Mor, Suilven,
Canisp — a frieze and
a litany.” Assynt

It was so good to get up early I had porridge for the first time for ages “magic food” for the hill and I only have to drive a short distance to get the Moray Mountaineering Club Bus for the long journey to Assynt. It has been a busy week with three lectures and a lot of travel but I needed a “fix of the hills” and Assynt is the answer. The bus had 28 on board and the journey up to the North West was magic all the hills clear in a broody light, Though the weather was good it was not sunny but perfect for walking. The first two club member’s  got off for the Beinn Dearg hills and we headed on up into Assynt to Inchnadampth. The familiar hills were looking great it was clear and everything was at it late Autumn best. You could hear the stags roaring as we arrived at the car park.

The Moray Club of on a chase of the great hills, worth the early start.

The Moray Club of on a chase of the great hills, worth the early start.

There was a large group that got of at Inchnadampth and the girls were heading for the two Munros Conival and  Ben More Assynt, everyone was in fine form. I was a bit worried as I am returning from my operations and planned to go to the Anson Crash on the plateau and 2 hour walk in and check the new memorial for the Anson that crashed in the war. On the 13th April 1941 an Anson aircraft from RAF Kinloss on a cross country training flight crashed near Ben More in the North West Highlands at Inchnadampth above Ullapool.

Assynt Map Crash site

The area where the Memorial is at NC 29463  23129. October  2015.

It is called the  locally named “Aeroplane flats”.

If I was feeling okay then I would look on a nearby hill  Beinne Uidhe .727 for more wreckage that I had been told may be on the ridge. I had good company and it was great wander in.

It is worth noting that the stalking season is upon as and each estate will have information advising.

It is worth noting that the stalking season is upon as and each estate will have information advising.

It is a wonderful stalkers path that winds its way up to the Crash site at just over 2000 feet and Loch nam Cuaran is a special place to be. I know it well having made 10 journeys in the past 3 years to assist with the new Memorial. Today was as good as I have felt for a long time and after checking the memorial (some lichen is forming on it, may need a clean wire brush)

The Anson crash site a sombre place in a wild setting the engine and propeller a bit away from the main wreckage.

The Anson crash site a sombre place in a wild setting the engine and propeller a bit away from the main wreckage.

As you approach it is always special, gone is the cross and a granite memorial that will need little up keep is now in place this is where the crew are buried.

The Memorail

The Memorial at the locally named Aeroplane flats  a poignant place

The aircraft was reported overdue at Kinloss and an air search was initiated but this failed to locate the missing aircraft, it wasn’t until the 25th May that the aircraft was located by a shepherd. All six of the crew were killed. The crash site is the only site in Scotland where the crew are buried at the crash site. This crash happened in the days before a proper mountain rescue service existed. It became policy thereafter to recover bodies no matter how difficult or unpleasant this might be. It should be noted that at the time of the crash it is said that 3 local shepherds’ died in the wild weather. When the wreck was discovered it was thought that the crew may have survived the crash but died shortly after of exposure and their injuries. One crew member had attempted to walk for help but was walking east away from civilisation and had died of hypothermia.  The aircraft was found by a local shepherd on the 25 Th May 1941, nearly 6 weeks after the aircraft went missing! The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has placed a memorial to the crew beside the gateway to the local church at Inchnadamph. The inscription reads;

“Here are commemorated the crew

of an aircraft crash on Ben More Assynt on the 13 Th. of April 1941, whose bodies rest where they fell”

Flying Officer JH Steyn DFC.  Pilot

Pilot Officer WE Drew.             Observer/ Instructor

Sergeant J Emery.                      Wireless operator gunner

Flight Sergeant T R Kenny.       Wireless Operator

Sergeant CM Mitchell.              Observer Pupil

Sergeant HA Tompsett.           Wireless operator gunner.

Looking at this wild place with Conival and Ben More Assynt in the background this is wild land.

Looking at this wild place with Conival and Ben More Assynt in the background this is wild land.

I was feeling good first time for over a year and the wander up onto the summit ridge of Beinn Uidhe at 740 metres was enjoyable. I felt the fitness come back and was enjoying the day and decided to stay with the group as they had planned the Corbet Glas Bheinn 776 metres at the end of a long ridge walk. I was looking for the report of some wreckage on this hill but in a hasty search saw nothing. Anyone got any ideas? The views were outstanding and the stags were roaring all day,  We saw so many deer all very high on the ridges enjoy the great weather. The wildness of this area is amazing with many lochans everywhere, big wild corries, so much space and the constant sound of the stags. How I had missed this freedom and was savouring it, the open space the colours and moving a lot better on the hills at last.

The rough ground on the ridge - makes walking a bit interesting, this is a wild place.

The rough ground on the ridge – makes walking a bit interesting, this is a wild place.  The  SMC Corbett book states there is plenty of rough rocky ground but this is easily avoided? Not true.

I  seemed the only one who was enjoying this rough ground and had a hard apprenticeship after  having to take stretchers on this type of ground over the years it was interesting walking and we soon spread out. I had enjoyed being on the ridge looking into the remote corries and the shattered quartzite rock well weathered after many millions of  years.  This area is so rich in Geology many of the summits have fossils and the great glaciated glens are a Geologists dream. I broke my ski pole in the rough ground when it got caught in a boulder but I managed to fix it and the poles really helped on my boulder hoping.  Should a Leki Makalu carbon pole break so easily?  To be fair it was hard going and the Corbett book  which states this ground is easy to avoid? It is a bit incorrect in my view. But who am I to comment?

Among the Boulders

Among the Boulders care needed!

I was enjoying the rough ground ( sad man) and to be able to move after that year of pain was fantastic, mountains are great medicine and saw the odd ptarmigan in the boulders changing to white for the winter.  The final ridge was lovely walking and the views now of the sea and the massive Quinag  with its many tops wild scenery

Last pull ontp Glas Bheinn (the grey hill)

Last pull onto Glas Bheinn (the grey hill)

The last break on the summit of the Corbett  Glas Bheinn was enjoyable and a cold wind got up but it was so clear and the views inspiring. I took a direct line to the bus testing my knees and hernia operation on the steep ground and apart from a muddy fall at the end it was magic. Maybe I can climb again after giving it a stern test?  I felt pretty good and a lot better than I thought I would and arrived back at the bus as the parties started to return off the hills. Everyone had a superb day you could see it in the faces and after a drink in Ullapool we picked the last party near the Aultguish Pub it was shut! By now it was pitch dark and we were soon homewards bound. It  was a reminder that I  would advise you to check your head torch is working from now on!

Summit break on the Corbett Glas Bheunn

Summit break on the Corbett Glas Bheunn

The bus was full of chatter on the way home lots of plans and the next few meets and ideas it was great to be out again and the recovery is going well.  It was a great bus meet the first for a while thanks to the Moray Mountaineering Club a great bunch of people and the Committee who do so much for us all. Please keep the bus meets going they are not easy to get up early for but great for the soul. Great to see so many new ones out and all the lovely lassies!

What a great weekend I am feeling so much better after a  few hills and such lovely weather, what more can one want?

Mountain Medicine is free of charge!

Assynt a place I love !!

Assynt a place I love !! The mountains lochs and sea mean so much to me!

If you want to more about the Anson Crash I have written on the Journey to renew the Memorial in this blog dated 11 June 2014 and many other blogs. This is a wonderful place to be and makes life so special to us all.

 

 

 

 

About heavywhalley.MBE

Lecturer and Mountain Rescue Specialist
Aside | This entry was posted in Aircraft incidents, Articles, Books, Corbetts, Enviroment, Equipment, Friends, Gear, mountain safety, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Wildlife. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Assynt – The Anson Memorial – Aeroplane flats and a high ridge walk Beinne Uidhe and Glas Bheinn 776

  1. Lyndon Jones says:

    Hi. Dave.
    Another great blog, its infectious your obvious passion for mountaineering in general. The extensive historic knowledge you have for the Scottish Highlands and the Memorials to plane crash sites and the Crews that lost their lives in such an awful manner, is also a privilege to read.
    It’s so good to hear that you are feeling so much better after the medical problems that have kept you from your mountain medicine, I hope you continue to improve and I lookfarward to reading about your future expeditions..!

    Liked by 1 person

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