22nd March 2022
Day bag packed, with daal bhat in the food thermos, some fresh fruit salad and a flask of coffee, and I was ready to go. I picked up Doug and we collected Grant and Steve on the way to Glen Clova.
Ascent to Loch Brandy
We left the Clova Hotel car park at 10:30am, to head up to Loch Brandy and thence to the Wellington Bomber. In August 1942 a Wellington Bomber crashed on a test flight from RAF Lossiemouth, with the loss of four of the five crew. Much of the wreckage still remains on the mountainside.
I was wearing a sub layer and a t shirt and still feeling the heat. We made a couple of stops on the way to the loch for the others to disrobe.
At the loch side we stopped briefly for coffee and flapjacks (supplied by chef de mission). We then decided to walk right up the shoulder of the mountain as opposed to left up the Snub.
At the top of Green Hill there were great views over to Lochnagar to the northwest, Mount Keene to the northeast and many other tops in between. The plateau and the tops were spotted by patchy snow like giant Dalmatians.
We turned east, losing height as we went until we hit our first stile. The adjoining gate was open, thus avoiding the need to scale it.
We circled right of the snow covered peat hag directly ahead, but eventually headed back left to the fence line which we followed for the next mile. The walking here was on snow then grass then peat hag. The icy ground made walking firmer than usual.
Now Grant was leading, and the next stile took us over the fence and back into the National Park. Underfoot conditions remained the same as we now walked north east up another fence line for a few hundred yards.
Our third and final stile of the outward route turned us back east.
The route was easy, although the underfoot conditions were not, as we continued along the fence line towards Muckle Cairn. There is a more direct route but that would have taken us across a snow covered gully which had a stream running through it.
The crash site
We kept to the high ground alongside the fence until we saw the remains of the Wellington Bomber glinting in the sun. We then struck out right and down the hillside navigating deep hags, bogs and ground water.
It wasn’t far and we were soon tucking into our lunches as we sat in the sunshine surveying the remains of the fuselage and a couple of engine parts. There was no memorial or plaque to explain what was before us. Google provided the details of the crash and those that perished on this hillside nearly 80 years ago. It had taken 3 hours to get here.
While we were sitting having lunch in the snowy surroundings of the Cairngorms, Garry and Neil were meeting in London to discuss some of the details of the Hike, fundraising, training and other matters of high importance. They kindly texted us a photo to show how well their discussions were going.
We turned for home, largely retracing our steps. Doug, whose lungs object to steep ascents, strode out ahead, amply boosted by his lunch and more flapjack. No novice of the hills he, his walking strengthened with every step. The rest of us tried to work out where his “eBoots” had come from and where the battery might be hidden. Doug wasn’t prepared to divulge this until his patent application has been accepted and he’s sorted out the uphill function.
Our last stop for drinks was back at the loch. It was then a 30 minute descent back to the car, with knees and ankles screaming “Stop!”.
The return to the car was at 4:30pm.
As everyone surveyed their phones, we were again afflicted by quantum matters when determining the length of our walk. Relive displayed 10.5 miles and LocaToWeb 12.2 miles. My OS crashed before divulging its distance secrets.
The reward for our efforts was a chocolate doughnut, refused by the iron-willed Steve, but devoured with gusto by the rest of us. Perhaps affected by this sugar rush, Doug (rather rashly, I thought), pledged that any profits from the sale of his eBoots would go to our charity!
What a great day in the hills.