Sunday, 9 August 2015

Supermarine Spitfire Mk XVI SL611 (Ill Crag) & De Havilland Dominie X7394/'Merlin V' (Broad Crag)

I have walked from Seathwaite on hundreds of occasions now over the last 12 years and as time passed I became increasingly aware of the aircraft crash sites in the area and set about to visit these and others in Lakeland. This Supermarine Spitfire has evaded me in the past, attempting to search it out on three previous occasions (once forgetting my maps, compass and GPS and others by rain/cloud and snow). I was adamant on this occasion to locate it and then move on to the De Havilland on Broad Crag. The route up Grains Gill was uneventful on this warm clear day, eventually turning to Esk Hause below Great End and then taking the path that comes out above the Hause.

The view south from Esk Hause to Harter Fell.
The path to Ill Crag, Great End now on the right.
 From here it is a right turn for Ill Crag and Scafell Pike, however once up the steeper 'Fix the Fells' stepped path and onto the boulder field, it is here you need to head over to the left and begin to descend to map reference NY225077 which is a drop off of approximately 50 metres. Try and do this in the dry weather as it is a scree slope, you may begin to find debris on the scree yet the impact scar and main remnants are against a rock face, though there is not much left.

Beginning the descent, Esk Pike in the near distance.

I think she's spotted something!

The wreckage in relation to Esk Pike, note the square on the rock-face, the plaque.

The plaque

***LY LOST HIS LIFE 20 11 47

This is a view of the impact site, looking towards Ill Crag.
 F/Lt Donald James Ott Loudon (25yrs of age) was an instructor who was en route to Turnhouse (now Edinburgh airport) when he struck Ill Crag on Scafell Massif. When he didn't arrive a search was mounted but scaled down after a few days. The Spitfire and his remains were eventually found by a shepherd boy on 1 May 1948, a time gap of 163 days. He is buried at Halton (St. Michael) Churchyard, which I believe is Cheshire.


From here I moved back up to the Scafell Pike path that skirts the south of Broad Crags. I would advise not doing this as the route and instead visiting this site by either dropping down between Great End and Broad Crags, or if visiting this only, approaching from The Corridor route to Scafell Pike and branching off at Greta Gill, south of Round How. To come over the top of Broad Crags exposes a person to cliff faces and at least one deep gulley. I was beginning to think this was actually up on the cliffs, but I sighted one of the engines on a relatively flat grassy section and then spotted the other further below and to the east. 

Impact scar, Great Gable beyond.

If you head for map reference NY217007 and look towards Great Gable, you should see both of the engines.

The higher engine.

Debris previously gathered and secured behind nearby rocks.
Looking to Styhead Tarn and the lower engine

The lower engine, Hollydog giving a scale.
This plane was acting as an air ambulance, of Royal Navy in Fife. It was transporting a seriously ill patient to Rochester on 30 August 1946 when it struck the mountain on the Scafell Massif, killing all five occupants including the surgeon. Like most of the crashes in the lakes it was attributed to bad weather and having to come down to get under the cloud to get a fix on location; no doubt they wrongly believed themselves clear of a mountainous area.

Sub Lt. Sydney Kenneth Kilsby Pilot (24) - Buried Dunfirmline
CPOA (Chief Petty Officer Airman) Harold John Clark (25) - Cremated South London
Cdr Surgeon William Tudor Gwynne -Jones (54) - Buried Plymouth
Sick Birth Attendant Leslie Howard Watkinson (19) - Owston (All Saints) Churchyard
Commissioned Ward Master Charles Robert Allwright DSM (The patient) (61) - Buried Dunfirmline (Douglas Bank) Cemetery

Sadly the mercy run to save a seriously ill patient ended in tragedy for all on board. Thousands walk The Corridor route to Scafell Pike and never know what they are passing.

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