I was on Elgin sorting out some admin and the weather looked good so I decided I had enough gear in the car. I had Islay with me my pal dog she is away and she is such a great hill dog. She is used to sheep and wild animals and never bothers with them so off we went.
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.
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 sadly still lots of dog Poo bags about, left for the dog poo fairy, I collected them again 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 some of my winter kit again from the start of the walk. I met about 5 folk some running some out with there dogs. It was a lovely walk but they were burning the moor below and the smoke kept us moving . It’s great to be out and Islay was very pleased despite the cold weather. 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. All the way up Islay carried a stick. I love the Cairngorm granite on the summit it makes this wee hill special.
I had some lunch then headed down straight from the summit to check the aircrafts crash. Few know that there are the remains of a Wellington Bomber on the hill near the summit. There is little left of the aircraft one 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 I nfound 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.
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
On the way down I met Graig Fletcher running he had come all the way running from Keith. He is doing 46 kilometres 46 times as his daughter needed neonatal care for 46 days. We had a great quick chat and it was great to meet him on the week that I lost two mates Mark Sinclair and Neil Main who was from Keith. It was the 16 March 1995. We all need good news nowadays and it’s good to hear Rosie Neil’s daughter is doing well. If you would like donate please do.
Running 46kms+, 46 times in 2022 for The kArchie Foundation – Highland Appeal because Rosie needed neonatal care for 46 days
We went on Craig was soon well ahead then we met another character Mark Chadwick and his dog. Mark has just been off the mountains for a few months but recovering well. We had a good catch up he is a mountain Guide and a great guy. He is definitely on the road to recovery . If your looking for a guide he is your man.
We were soon back at the car plus a few extra dog poo bags . Then head the short distance home Islay was asleep in the van the whole way. A slow but lovely day, well worth getting out for and meeting some good folk.