The Cromdales and a visit to the crash site of a RAF Armstrong Whitworth Whitley, Carn a’ Ghille Chearr, 710 metres Cromdale Hills.

I have visited the Cromdales a few times mainly on the odd winter course when we skied from Grantown on Spey. This was due to heavy snow at various years stopping us going to the Cairngorms. Yet I have never found the remains of crashed aircraft near the summit of Carn a’ Ghillie Chearr. It is a sad reminder of the war where 4 of the crew died. It is usually hidden by snow in peat hags near the summit.

As many will know I have not been on the hill for a long time. I have a terrible cough that is getting investigated and awaiting the results of a scan. I was very worried how it would go but so looking forward to getting out.

On the way to the Cromdales my pal Terry Moore who was visiting and me visited Jim Morning in Grantown On Spey. We had a coffee and cake then a wander down to the Old bridge. Jim and Terry were soon chatting of climbs past and The two Everest West Ridge-expeditions. There was also a great tale of an abseil of the Ben in wild winter conditions on a dodgy peg. I was filming them chatting on the bridge when my North Face jacket was picked up by the wind and deposited into the Spey. We left Jim in Grantown and headed for our wee hill.

Before my jacket went into the Spey . Jim, Terry and Islay .

It was last seen heading down the river with Islays lead in the pocket. Jim and Terry could only laugh I was so glad my car keys were not in the pocket.

My jacket before it’s trip down the Spey.

Càrn a’ Ghille Charr the more northeasterly of the two Grahams in the Cromdale Hills. Though a simple rounded hill it has fewer visitors than its neighbour, and the old paths that lead up onto the ridge from the Cromdale side have become overgrown which means parts of the route involve harder going through deep heather. Walk Highlands


Pathless for much of the ascent, with sections of deep heather. The ridge is soggy in places with an intermittent path. This description is very apt there is a lot of Heather and burning of the hillside. After not being on even a wee hill it was steady going. Poor Terry and Islay the collie had to listen to me coughing like I was at altitude.

Slowly going with another spare top on.

The weather was fine very windy at times but once we got onto the ridge it was easier and had some shelter, food and a drink. The Wessex little wild life but I have rarely seen so many Cloudberry plants about.


Cloudberry is closely related to the bramble family s, but unlike those, possesses no thorns. It spreads from creeping rootstock very low along the ground, never reaching more than 8 inches in height. It inhabits damp or wettish acid moorland and peaty bogs. The leaves are palmate, crinkly and usually solitary, and not in threes like most other brambles.


Cloudberry is a very shy flowerer.

The berries change from red to pale orange, and are edible. They have an unusual fused appearance rather reminiscent of a mass of conjoined soap bubbles.

Cloudberry is a dioecious plant with male and female flowers on separate plants.

Cloudberry ?

Islay who I am looking after just now was ahead with her new pal Terry but it was just great to be out. We met no one, Terry waiting for me to catch up. The views were great Ben Rinnes and Morayshire looking so green. We had one shower but missed the rain we descended from the summit and after a short search near the start of the burn located the wreckage we were looking for.

At the wreckage

On 31st January 1943 this aircraft took off from Kinloss airfield at 10.35hrs to undertake a cross country training flight. At around 17.00hrs the aircraft flew into high ground close to the summit of Carn a’Ghillie Chearr; one of the larger peaks in the Hills of Cromdale, Moray while returning to base in poor weather. Three of the crew died at the scene of the crash, one died two days later and one other survived his injuries.

Grid ref and height from summit of crash site.

Pilot – Sgt Peter William Barrett RAFVR (1425570), aged 20, of Beverley, Yorkshire. Buried Beverley Church Cemetery, Yorkshire (A/K/43).

Observer – P/O Sidney John Stenning RAFVR (129370), aged 20, of North Kensington, London. Buried Kinloss Abbey, Moray (50/B).

Bomb Aimer – Sgt Joseph Raymond Charles Rugeroni-Hope RAFVR (1387054), aged 20, of Edinburgh. Buried Edinburgh Mount Vernon Cemetery (O/148).

Wireless Operator / Air Gunner – Sgt John Douglas RAFVR (980831), aged 23, of Glasgow. Buried Glasgow (Riddrie Park) Cemetery.

Air Gunner – Sgt A P Wilson. Injured.

We spent some time looking about found various bits and pieces in the peat hags. I always think of those who died here. Yet one survived and we know little of his story ?

Out of the wind.

We descended heavy going in deep Heather seeing several mountain hares and a deer. Terry and Islay were ahead I took my time the ground at times covered in deep Heather hard going. We were soon down at my van then home via Elgin and Lossiemouth after Terry bought me dinner. Islay was fast asleep. We then drove home had a bath sorted the kit and Islay slept all night after a big meal.

Dog tired

It was a fun day met Jim and had a great chat with Terry true pals. Not feeling bad today but hope the medical world can stop my hacking cough. Lost a jacket had so many laughs and great to feel the wind battering your face ! I do not care how slow I am just to be out on the hills is great. As I was walking this folk song by the Corries was in my ear all day.

The Haughs Of Cromdale – The Corries

A s I come in by Auchindoun,
Just a wee bit frae the toun,
To the Hi’lands I was bound
To view the Haughs of Cromdale.
I met a man in tartan trews,
Spiered at him (asked) what was the news,
Quo’ he, “The Hi’land army rues
That e’er we come to Cromdale.

A great book .

This is the first colour definitive guidebook to The Grahams & The Donalds and follows in the footsteps of the Scottish Mountaineering Club’s best selling guidebooks to The Munros and The Corbetts. There are colour location maps of each group, together with their neighbouring hills, plus 175 detailed colour route maps and over 250 detailed descriptions, including links to other hills. The guidebook is illustrated by 320 colour photographs of the hills. There are Gaelic hill name translations plus an indexed list of Grahams and Donalds in height order, together with a full standard index.

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 Articles, Books, Corbetts and other hills, Enviroment, Equipment, Flora, Friends, Health, Himalayas/ Everest, Mountaineering, Other hills Grahams & Donalds, People, Plants, Recomended books and Guides, Weather, Well being, Wildlife. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Cromdales and a visit to the crash site of a RAF Armstrong Whitworth Whitley, Carn a’ Ghille Chearr, 710 metres Cromdale Hills.

  1. Pete Kay says:

    A good day Hev’s, as you so rightly say it’s the quality of the company and the hill that makes the day. We are more fortunate than some, I never take anything for granted, I know only too well how fate can deal a low blow. Hope breathing improves, with the meds. Take care and keep the stories coming, stay safe fella.

    Best regards

    Liked by 1 person

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