Old Wrecks Walk
Old Wrecks Walk 26th November 2023
Meet Leaders John and Virginia Castick
Members Gowry Suspalan, Colin Maddison, Rob Clark, Al Metelko, Craig Marsden, Sue Marsden, Joe Flynn, Lester Payne, John Castick, Midge Castick
Starting from Edale so that some could come by train, we set off along the Pennine Way then diverted shortly up a diagonal path onto the plateau edge where we came to the first plane wreck site. There was little to see but the story of the 1937 bi plane crash was a classic example of limited ability to navigate accurately in poor weather conditions. We carried on passing Grindslow knoll where Joe and Lester caught up with us. Walking along the edge east past Grindsbrook top we came to the hidden crash site of a 1941 Wellington Bomber. There was nothing to see from the rim but on rocks below there is a memorial plaque. This bomber was returning from an aborted bombing raid on Cologne. Bad weather over the continent forced them to turn back, still with their bomb load intact. Dead reckoning and misty conditions meant they had no idea they were even over the Peak District so we’re just too low when they struck the edge. There was an almighty explosion because of the bomb load but fortunately for the tail Gunner, the tailplane fell off and bounced down the hillside. With only minor injuries the gunner was able to descend two miles to Edale to get help. No one else survived.
We retraced our steps back to the top of Grindsbrook and carried on round the edge towards the Woolpacks. Here we met Joe and Lester again as they were taking a more leisurely pace and an easier route. Below the Woolpacks are 2 crash sites. Again little to see but small debris and a cross at each. The first one was an inexperienced naval pilot on a training flight. He put in no flight plan and the enquiry came to the conclusion that he had been following the railway line in order to go across to Stockport to waggle his wings at his Mum who lived there, miles off where he was supposed to be but apparently not an uncommon thing for young pilots to do. As the train line went into the tunnel and the ground the rose up in front of him, he frantically veered off to the north but sadly didn’t make enough height to clear the edge.
Not far below this site was the sad end to Wing Commander Richard Douglas Speare DSO and bar, Croixe de Guerre. Just months after the war ended in 1945,this highly experienced officer who had flown bombers and secret missions through the war was simply delivering a single seater plane from one Air Base to another where he was to start a period of leave. This 22 minute flight was already 14 minutes over that time when it crashed. The assumption was that he had entered the compass bearing 180 degrees out thus putting him wildly off course. Flying bombers he would have been used to having a navigator. What a sad end to a distinguished career.
We continued down the steep hillside to the bottom of Jacobs Ladder and walked back to Edale and the pub, 14km overall.
A lot of research from books and a full recce ensured there was no problem finding the sites on the day. We had great fun doing it and hope you all had a good day out.