The Fairy Lochs are a group of small lochs in the hills to the south of Badachro near Gairloch in Wester Ross. Although they make for a fine walk, they are also known for the war memorial to a crashed USAAF Liberator bomber which came down here in 1945 killing all 15 of the men on board.
Just weeks before, all of them had been assigned to slow surface transport back to the USA, but orders were changed when this B-24 that had just been repaired became available for a faster trip home.
On 13th June 1945, they left Prestwick Airfield in Scotland heading first for Keflavik in Iceland, a route that should have taken them across Stornoway in the Western Isles. It’s not clear how they ended up inland over Gairloch but something went wrong, perhaps bad weather, perhaps mechanical failure.
The pilot attempted a crash landing but the area is too rocky and the plane crashed into the Fairy Lochs scattering wreckage over a wide area.
The bodies were all recovered for burial so this is not a war grave as such but most of the wreckage still litters the hillside over a large area and some can be seen in the lochs. A memorial plaque has been placed on a cliff-face beside some of the wreckage.
Those who perished were:
1st/Lt Jack B Ketchum (22), Pilot.
1st/Lt J H Spencer (22), Co-Pilot.
2nd/Lt R J Robak (20), Navigator.
Technical Sgt H L Cheek (21), Flight Engineer.
Technical Sgt J C Stammer (23), Wireless Op.
Staff Sgt E J Gilles (24), Air Gunner.
Staff Sgt A L Natkin (20), Air Gunner.
Staff Sgt R E Davis (26), Air Gunner.
Staff Sgt H Riefen (25), Air Gunner.
Air Transport Command
Staff Sgt J B Ellis Jr. (24), 314th T.C.G.
Staff Sgt J D Harvey (30), 314th T.C.G.
Staff Sgt A W Hastings (23), 314th T.C.G.
Staff Sgt E Einarsen (48), 314th T.C.G
Staff Sgt J H Hallissey (27), 93rd B.G. (H
Staff Sgt R J Francis (20), 323rd B.G. (H).
Filed under: Photographs, Scottish History | Tags: Jacobites, Ruthven Barracks
Following the failed Jacobite rising in 1715, the British Government embarked on building four infantry barracks across the highlands to house troops outposted from the main forts at Fort George and Fort William.
Ruthven Barracks was completed in 1721 on a prominent mound near Kingussie at a point where the military roads from Inverness, Perth and Fort Augustus came together. It housed 120 men and in 1734 a stable block was built behind it to accommodate 28 horses.
On the day following their defeat at Culloden in 1746, 3,000 Jacobites retreated to Ruthven where they received a message from Prince Charles Edward Stuart to disperse as their situation was hopeless. The departing Jacobites set fire to the barracks on 17 April 1746. Most of the interior was destroyed but the outer walls still stand today.
Filed under: Photographs, Scottish History | Tags: Great Tapestry of Scotland
It was the brainchild of the writer Alexander McCall Smith who, together with historian Alistair Moffat and artistic designer Andrew Crummy, formed a team to produce the tapestry with the aid of more than 1,000 stitchers, all volunteers, from all over Scotland.
The 160 panels detail Scotland’s history from the Ice Age to the forming of the Scottish Parliament in 1999.
Taking over two years to complete, the tapestry is currently touring Scotland and will eventually be displayed in a purpose built gallery in the Scottish Borders.
Filed under: Photographs, Scottish History | Tags: Neil Gunn, Neil Gunn Monument
The site for the memorial was chosen because Neil spent many of his most prolific years living at Brae Farm House which is situated just down the slope from the monument. He tended to write mainly in the mornings and spent his afternoons walking – a favourite walk being up through the fields behind the house and on to the moors and hills beyond the Heights road.
The monument was unveiled on 31 October 1987 by Sorley Maclean, the poet, and Jessie Kesson, the writer. The views from the Heights of Brae are fantastic – with Dingwall and the Cromarty Firth to the east, Knockfarrel and the Grampians to the south, the mountains of Kintail to the west and Ben Wyvis to the north.
Filed under: Photographs | Tags: Edinburgh, Edinburgh Festival, Edinburgh Fringe
In the 1700s, sulphurous springs were discovered in the small village of Strathpeffer in Ross and Cromarty, which were widely acclaimed for their healing properties.
People came from all over the UK and Europe to sample the waters.
In 1818 a permanent Spa Pavilion was built to house the spring.
The popularity of the village increased as the railways started to reach the north of Scotland, a branch line to Strathpeffer being opened in 1885.
This led to the building of grand hotels and large villas to accommodate the growing stream of visitors coming to take the waters.
The village’s popularity as a spa waned following the second world war but Strathpeffer remains a tourist attraction with several of the old pump buildings having been restored and the Victorian station’s conversion into a museum and café.
A fine walk across moorland and through heather, the Fairy Pools can be found at the foot of the Black Cuillin near the road to Glenbrittle on the Isle of Skye. The walk itself is fairly short, only about 2 km, but very rewarding with fantastic views of the mountains.
The pools are formed on the River Brittle as it heads down the Coire na Creiche over numerous waterfalls. Hardy souls have been known to take a dip in the pools but the water isn’t warm.