A wander on Ben Rinnes – Hares, Ptarmigan and an Aircraft Crash.

Ben Rinnes –  This hill is a favourite of mine, its my nearest hill  a Corbett and has been a good pal over the years.  We used it often in my early days with the RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team for training and I remember doing a SARBE TEST in 1972 with a helicopter.

1972 Rinnes SARBE Testing.

I have often introduced lots of friends and work mates to hillwalking on this mountain. The guide book tells you that if you climb it from outside Dufftown by its shortest route it takes you one hour and forty minutes to the summit. It’s a huge track well maintained and surprisingly litter free but lots of dog Poo bags about, left for the dog poo fairy, I collected them on the way off. If you want a longer day if you continue along the ridge to the Bridge of Avon and have transport there. It is a grand looking hill with great views over the Moray Firth to Ross and Cromarty and of course the Cairngorms.

The easiest way is to follow the B9009 about 5 k from Dufftown and take the minor road to Edinville. Parking can be tight with room for only about 8 cars and it can be a busy hill. t several runners and a many walkers all out on the hill. The path is good and maintained by The Friends Of Ben Rinnes a great bunch of people who look after this wee hill. The wind was pretty cold and I was glad to be wearing most of my winter kit again from the start of the walk. I met lots of folk some running some out with the family many with kids as young as 5 all having fun and very pleased despite the cold weather. It was great to see. The views are great the Cairngorms still holding snow and the Moray coast and the many windfarms that are now here. I took my time to the summit of Ben Rinnes (The Headland Hill) at 840 metres where I got some shelter. It was then an enjoyable break amongst the granite Tors that make up the summit with its trig point and viewpoint.

It is such a lovely summit with such a panorama today. Many climb the hill and leave quickly yet this hill has an interesting side.

Few know that there are the remains of a Wellington Bomber on the hill near the summit. There is little left of the aircraft but I had a rough grid reference and had visited it often ago with groups from work. I had plenty of time so off we went into the mist on a compass bearing and after about 250 metres we found some wreckage at 783 metres and spent some time looking about. I found it not even by navigating and this side of the hill is so different. There were so many hares about they looked at me and then scampered off.

A ptarmigan sat nearby and watched as I looked around he was not bothered and sadly someone had left rubbish nearby that I took home. The ground is so mossy and soft and I sat enjoying the views and the solitude occasionally hearing voices coming from the summit. The Wellington was from nearby Lossiemouth and it crashed killing both of the two crew a Sgt Grove who is buried in Evesham cemetery. The other Sgt Rennie was taken to Glasgow. The aircraft got caught in a violent snowstorm and crashed whilst on a night Exercise from RAF Lossiemouth.

This is from the Friends of Ben Rinnes Website

Ben Rinnes was the scene of a terrible plane crash on 14th November 1943.
A Wellington Bomber HF746 of No20 Operational Training Unit, based at Lossiemouth, crashed into Ben Rinnes whilst on a navigational exercise. Both the crew were killed.
A former member of the ground crew who went to the site on the hill shortly after the crash described it as “the most complete burn-out he had ever seen”.
The outline of this crash site is still clearly visible from the north side of the Ben where the ground was scarred so badly that nothing will grow there even today.

“A Wellington Bomber crash in 1943 John has dropped us an email giving his recollections of that event. John and his family lived in Edinvillie at the time of the crash; he still has relatives living in Edinvillie today.

I traversed back to the path had a short rain storm and was soon on the path back to my van. I met a few going up all enjoying this wee hill most chatted and a mountain biker speed by coming from the summit. The car park was still busy and then it was a short journey home. It was good to get out again hopefully maybe get a Munro done this week depending on the weather.

How I have missed the hills.   

John writes:-
It was on a Saturday night after 10 o’clock.It was snowing very heavily and myself, my brother & a friend, Geordie Davidson, were outside with our father and a neighbour when we heard the plane go over.
We could tell it was in trouble by the sound of the engines. We then heard a thump so we knew it had crashed.
There was not any fire, just the wreckage covered a large area. It was about 200 yrds.straight down from the top of the Ben, My brother Peter told me nothing is growing on the crash site still.
There was only two killed in the crash and their remains were amongst the wreckage.
Three crew bailed out, One landed on a farm in Elches and it is said he married the farmers daugher.
Maybe some of the locals could verify if it is true?
On our way down it was airmen that was spread out looking for the two crew because they were supposed to also bale out.
We did take a few 303 bullets as a keep sake.
I never saw them remove the wreckage, but I can imagine it must have been terrible hard work.
I don’t think there is anything else I can tell you.
Maybe you can tell me, if there was a memorial service on the Ben a few years ago for the two crew members?
Keep up the good work and I will be up to Aberlour at the end of June
John Murphy


The Friends of Ben Rinnes is a registered charity (No SC 034370) which works to care for the paths and environment of Ben Rinnes and to promote responsible enjoyment of the hill by walkers. Its members are all volunteers who share these aims and who wish to support them.

The increasing popularity of the hill with walkers of all abilities has resulted in major erosion and widening of the existing paths, particularly on the upper slopes. Worst affected is the most popular route to the summit leading from the car park at Glack Harnes on the Edinvillie to Glen Rinnes road over Roy’s Hill and up the north eastern ridge. The resultant scarring on the summit cone is unsightly, unpleasant under foot and, worst of all, damaging to the fragile environment.


About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Aircraft incidents, Corbetts and other hills, Friends, Mountaineering, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being, Wildlife. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to A wander on Ben Rinnes – Hares, Ptarmigan and an Aircraft Crash.

  1. Love Alone says:

    Reblogged this on Love and Love Alone.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. xmetman says:

    Well done with the dog poo bags!

    It reminds me of the occasions when my wife and I went hill walking with Mark and Libby, and he like you, would always be picking up litter left by others.

    I worked as an observer at the Met Office at Kinloss between 1987 and 1995, and my forecaster mate there, and who introduced me to Munroing, would phone up during an early winters afternoon to ask if I would like to make a quick dash with him to catch the sunset from the top of Ben Rinnes.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Norna Hall says:

    Had a great day up there with the late John Hinde many years ago. We came across wreckage, which he was sure came from the Wellington, in a couple of places on the NE slope. He noted the grid refs. I have a treasured copy of his diary notes from the day.

    Liked by 1 person

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