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The dark side of Bynack

The dark side of Bynack


Postby BlackPanther » Fri Aug 07, 2020 8:14 pm

Route description: Bynack More from Glenmore

Munros included on this walk: Bynack More

Date walked: 11/07/2020

Time taken: 7 hours

Distance: 25.8 km

Ascent: 928m

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Our favourite mountain in the Cairngorms is Bynack More - it was one of my early Munros, climbed first in 2009 and repeated several times since then using different routes, including a memorable return via Bynack Beg and Strathnethy, when we almost drowned in bog. On another occasion we were sucked dry by midges and two years ago we crawled to the top in high wind (likely 50mph gusts). We also visited the neighbouring Corbett, Creag Mhor. So I thought we had explored every side of Bynack, but I was wrong. There is a dark side of this mountain, one very few people know about. An obscure, peathag ridden top, called An Lurg hides the remnants of a long forgotten tragedy from 1944, when a Wellington bomber crashed here, sadly killing all crew.

OK so as many of you probably suspected, this is going to be another Panther's Aircrash Investigation, but this one came as a surprise to us since we never knew about this dark secret of Bynack More. Not until I found it mentioned in "Aircraft wrecks, the walker's guide". The location of this site is not as remote as one might think though, only about 1km in a straight line from the Lairig an Laoigh path as it emerges on the high plateau below Bynack More itself. Yet as An Lurg is an unimportant top (not even a Tump), next to no-one visits this ocean of peat hags. Several sources I read mentioned that the site had been completely forgotten and was only re-discovered in the previous decade.

Kevin was still complaining from sore knee so we planned to go to the crash site first and only continue to the summit of Bynack if he was OK after all the peat hag hopping. As it turned out, his knee behaved a bit better and he was able to visit the summit with me as well:

Track_BYNACK MORE 25,8KM.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


It was Saturday so we expected crowds in Glenmore hence an early start. When we arrived it was still very quiet and no problems with parking. The real crowds all came later, when we were already half way up the mountain :lol:
It is always nice to walk to the Ryvoan Pass, taking a short break by the Green Lochan:
2020-07-11 bynack more 003.JPG

I noticed several tents perched on the small beach at the eastern end of Lochan Uaine. I have nothing against camping, love wildcamping myself, but I had mixed feelings about using the Green Lochan as a campsite.
As we walked along the path, we were overtaken by several runners and cyclists, but we didn't care about being slow today. Weather was good and this side of the Cairngorms has so much character, we didn't regret a single moment spent here.
Looking into Strathnethy from Nethy Bridge. Beware, walkers who enter this kingdom. There will be bog!
2020-07-11 bynack more 017.JPG

Panoramic view of Stac na h-Iolaire and Meall a'Buachaille:
2020-07-11 bynack more 032.JPG

We gave Strathnethy a miss this time and instead, stayed on the main path as it ascended onto the plateau. An Lurg is the undistinguished top to the left hand side when going up. When we reached the point where we decided we should leave the safety of the path, we stopped to program our GPS (we had grid references from the "air-crash bible"). More people passed us, looking curiously at what we were doing and I bet their astonishment grew bigger when we left the path and started marching over towards the summit of An Lurg.
Kevin on his quest:
2020-07-11 bynack more 154.JPG

it is possible to avoid some of the peat hags by sticking to the edge of the plateau but eventually we had to head for the flat summit of An Lurg and we had some serious peat-hag hopping to do en route:
2020-07-11 bynack more 160.JPG

Bynack More from An Lurg:
2020-07-11 bynack more 163.JPG

We spotted the crash site quickly from the distance as somebody assembled the bigger pieces of wreckage in a pile. I'm not going to deliberate if it was moral or not though personally I'm in the "take nothing but memories, leave nothing but respect" club and prefer to leave all found pieces in exactly the same spots where I found them.
2020-07-11 bynack more 162.JPG

The impact crater is more a shallow depression in the ground where a substantial amount of fragmented pieces can be found.
2020-07-11 bynack more 166.JPG

According to the "aircrash bible" the site contains broken sections of geodetic work, oxygen bottles, armour plate and shattered engine parts. The first recognizable object we noticed was a large part of the Bristol Hercules radial engine from the Wellington:
2020-07-11 bynack more 172.JPG

We noticed that what we found was very fragmented, most of the parts in the main impact crater are so mangled that it's impossible to say which part of the plane they came from. Neither me not Kevin are plane designers or mechanics, so we usually guess. The bent aluminum bits are probably parts of the fuselage:
2020-07-11 bynack more 041.JPG

A burst oxygen bottle:
2020-07-11 bynack more 199.JPG

More small parts of airframe:
2020-07-11 bynack more 051.JPG

This little wooden cross was left by one of the previous visitors. Generally, I'm against leaving anything on crash sites but this tiny gesture of remembrance touched my soft side and my eyes got wet. So the boys who died here are not forgotten. As I wrote in my previous report about the Scaraben crash sites, memories are the best memorials.
2020-07-11 bynack more 046.JPG

So what happened here?
Little is known about the circumstances of the accident here. The plane was a Vickers Wellington HF816/A of 20 OTU, RAF. On the 14 August 1944 it took off from RAF Lossiemouth on a cross country night navigation training exercise. The aircraft failed to return to the base and later it was reported that the plane exploded in the air before crashing into the ground close to the top of An Lurg at about 22:30pm. Sadly, all six crew lost their lives.
2020-07-11 bynack more 189.JPG

The fragmentation of the wreck as well as the fact that it is well scattered over the moorland seems to support the theory of mid-air explosion.
2020-07-11 bynack more 194.JPG

The pile of mangled wreckage:
2020-07-11 bynack more 045.JPG

Having photographed the main impact zone, we spotted more small parts further to the west, mostly small bits of aluminum. Continuing towards a large peat hag, we found several metal rings and shafts, possibly parts of the undercarriage, and more oxygen bottles:
2020-07-11 bynack more 206.JPG

In the next peat hag, we spotted more debris:
2020-07-11 bynack more 203.JPG

Twisted armour plate:
2020-07-11 bynack more 210.JPG

Small part of a motor:
2020-07-11 bynack more 211.JPG

A larger part of the aircraft frame:
2020-07-11 bynack more 214.JPG

2020-07-11 bynack more 066.JPG

Mangled cables, possibly from the cockpit?
2020-07-11 bynack more 222.JPG

More oxygen bottles and hydrolic cylinders:
2020-07-11 bynack more 077.JPG

A small part of aluminum from the fuselage still in its original colour:
2020-07-11 bynack more 218.JPG

We found four separate peat hags with debris of different shapes and sizes, most of it unidentifiable:
2020-07-11 bynack more 234.JPG

Other bloggers suggested that the second engine could still be there somewhere, maybe buried in a peat hag, so we scanned the nearby area but sadly didn't find it. It could have sunk into the soft ground completely and is now invisible. All we found were more small bits of fuselage, scattered about:
2020-07-11 bynack more 251.JPG

Eventually, we set off across the peat haggy terrain to return to the main path. Again, several other groups of walkers watched us suspiciously as we marched past them, I felt like they wanted to as "what the hell were you looking for out there?".
I understand that not every hillwalker or rambler shares our passion for aircrash investigations, but I still find it surprising, next to no one knows about this Wellington, with the site so close to the Lairig an Laoigh pass. If you decide to follow our footsteps and visit An Lurg and its dark secret, please, take nothing but memories and leave nothing but respect.
...
We still had time to nip up to the summit of our favourite Cairngorm Munro, so joined in a long parade of walkers on the main path. It was busy, but no wonder, weekend day and nice weather encouraged people to wander outside. As we climbed up the main ridge, wind picked up but it wasn't strong enough to deter us:
2020-07-11 bynack more 257.JPG

Oddly shaped rocks on the main ridge:
2020-07-11 bynack more 265.JPG

We didn't take long to reach the top. No midges today, thank heavens, and despite windy conditions it was a good place to be:
2020-07-11 bynack more 095.JPG

Cairngorm, Beinn a'Mheadhoin and Derry Cairngorm from Bynack More:
2020-07-11 bynack more 100.JPG

A few other walkers arrived shortly after us, so we decided to descend to the Little Barns of Bynack to have our lunch there:
2020-07-11 bynack more 108.JPG

I love the Barns of Bynack and every time we visit the mountain, I drag Kevin out there for a photo session :lol:
2020-07-11 bynack more 112.JPG

This particular rock I called "The biggest bum in the Cairngorms". It is a bit bigger than mine :wink:
2020-07-11 bynack more 119.JPG

Following a cup of tea and a sandwich by the Little Barns, we descended further down the eastern side to the Big Barns:
2020-07-11 bynack more 127.JPG

These are even more fascinating with good opportunities for scrambling if you wish so - we had no time today, but during one of our previous visits we investigated them closer - my TR HERE.
Posing with the eastern side of the Big Barns:
2020-07-11 bynack more 139.JPG

The quickest way to go back is to return to the summit, but we preferred to drop to the Lairig an Laoigh path to the east then simply follow it back north. This option requires some re-ascent but we usually return this way. Unless we are stupid enough to go bog-diving in Strathnethy! :lol: :lol: :lol:
The eastern slopes of Bynack More are mostly grassy and not too steep:
2020-07-11 bynack more 148.JPG

Back on the path:
2020-07-11 bynack more 150.JPG

Once we returned to the main path, it was busy again, people walking in both directions. At least on the vast plateau it is easy to keep the 2 metres distance! :lol:
The forest paths around Lochan Uaine were crowded like Academy Street in Inverness (before the pandemic) so we were relieved to eventually reach the car. It was a fascinating expedition and we discovered a new side to one of our favourite mountains. A Saturday well spent!

List of sites with information about the Wellington crash:
http://www.yorkshire-aircraft.co.uk/aircraft/scotland/hf816.html
https://heavywhalley.wordpress.com/2015/08/14/cairngorm-aircraft-crashes-an-lurg-wellington-crash-14-august-1944-near-bynock-mor/
https://www.peakdistrictaircrashes.co.uk/crash_sites/scotland/wellington-hf816-an-lurg/
http://www.edwardboyle.com/wreck23.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vickers_Wellington
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BlackPanther
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Re: The dark side of Bynack

Postby KatTai » Fri Aug 07, 2020 8:32 pm

Aw was up there yesterday, didn't know about the crash site otherwise I'd have gone across.
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KatTai
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Re: The dark side of Bynack

Postby BlackPanther » Mon Aug 10, 2020 9:24 pm

KatTai wrote:Aw was up there yesterday, didn't know about the crash site otherwise I'd have gone across.


Now I wish I had posted this TR a day earlier :lol: :lol:

If you like this area (and want an excuse to go back :wink: ), there is a nice Corbett, Creag Mhor, just next to Bynack More, approach is via the same path. We did it ages ago... The crash site could be easily added to this route:
https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=15721
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Re: The dark side of Bynack

Postby KatTai » Mon Aug 10, 2020 9:45 pm

BlackPanther wrote:
KatTai wrote:Aw was up there yesterday, didn't know about the crash site otherwise I'd have gone across.


Now I wish I had posted this TR a day earlier :lol: :lol:

If you like this area (and want an excuse to go back :wink: ), there is a nice Corbett, Creag Mhor, just next to Bynack More, approach is via the same path. We did it ages ago... The crash site could be easily added to this route:
https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=15721


Thanks for that :D Spotted the corbett when I was up there, think it could be a return visit when things have quietened down a bit up there :D
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Re: The dark side of Bynack

Postby weaselmaster » Mon Aug 10, 2020 10:09 pm

Unusual to find a bit of fuselage still in its original colours. I didn’t know about this one (despite having the book you mention, I haven’t read it properly yet). I’m keen to visit the sea vampire crash site on Klibreck one day....
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Re: The dark side of Bynack

Postby Mal Grey » Tue Aug 11, 2020 10:23 am

Somehow that tiny cross in the wreck, miles from anywhere in the wilds of the Cairgorms, seems entirely fitting and turns a pile of metal into something unique.

Must add Bynack More to my plans.
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Re: The dark side of Bynack

Postby BlackPanther » Tue Aug 11, 2020 5:35 pm

Mal Grey wrote:Somehow that tiny cross in the wreck, miles from anywhere in the wilds of the Cairgorms, seems entirely fitting and turns a pile of metal into something unique.


Same feeling here.
Some of the crash sites we visited have memorial plaques either attached to the remains or placed on top of nearby cairn (like the Avro Anson on Ben MacDui or the Lancaster on Beinn Eighe) but these are the more popular sites. This one is virtually forgotten especially when we take under account how many people walk past it on the way to Bynack More...
But maybe there is a good side to this: at least the site won't get trampled by idiots who think that playing kicky bag with plane parts is entertaining :evil:

weaselmaster wrote:Unusual to find a bit of fuselage still in its original colours. I didn’t know about this one (despite having the book you mention, I haven’t read it properly yet). I’m keen to visit the sea vampire crash site on Klibreck one day....


Ahh the Vampire. I wondered about this one as well. There are two ways of getting there. Either from the east (past Ben Armine) - as described in this blog: http://www.wtdwhd.co.uk/CC18/Day5.html
or simply by extending the walk from the summit past the 724m northern top. I wonder which one of us gets there first :D

Another hill with crash sites I'm keen to visit is Hill of Wirren. I managed to pinpoint three sites that are easy to reach (two are mentioned in the book).

I have two more TRs with crash sites to write - and we're hoping to visit another one the coming weekend. If weather allows.
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Re: The dark side of Bynack

Postby KatTai » Tue Aug 11, 2020 7:20 pm

BlackPanther wrote:
Another hill with crash sites I'm keen to visit is Hill of Wirren. I managed to pinpoint three sites that are easy to reach (two are mentioned in the book).


I think I need to get that book Hill of Wirren isn't far from me at all!
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Re: The dark side of Bynack

Postby BlackPanther » Tue Aug 11, 2020 7:30 pm

KatTai wrote:I think I need to get that book Hill of Wirren isn't far from me at all!


Highly recommended :D Paperback version is available from Amazon at £16.99:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Aircraft-Wrecks-Walkers-Historic-Mountains/dp/1781594732/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Aircraft+Wrecks%3A+A+Walker%27s+Guide%3A&qid=1597170252&s=books&sr=1-1
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