Mickle Fell NP-002 report

Mickle Fell report. 24/05/09 G/NP-002

Well after a week off riddled with bad weather and an assignment to finish for OU it was a welcome change when Stuart G0MJG said did i fancy doing Mickle fell this weekend as it was an open access day. So a plan was born. Stuart was away up near Carlisle with his wife Dee walking sections of Hadrians wall. The plan was to meet at the starting point recommended by Richard G3CWI and follow the track to the summit with me to check the weather and double check access.

For anyone planning to do this summit, it does lie in the middle of a firing range and they are empowered to shoot on any day except Christmas day. I service some equipment on the range and quit frequently hear machine gun fire and tank firing, on one occasion they set fire to the heather on the hill side. So be warned do check non shooting days via the telephone line.

Access used to be granted via an estate office too but now open access land runs right up to the range markers, the MOD controls the area from there. Well with the weather looking good and a confirmation of non firing the ascent was on. I had a two hour drive and Stuart a one hour drive, Dee chose not to accompany us fools.

With a long walk in and Richards mention of a bike i quite agree with this, the track is very good and goes further than suggested on the map. In fact it just finishes just short of the final push for the trig point. Some two hours walking later we reach the trig, once here there is another mile or so round the ridge to meet the summit cairn. Fortunately the going is somewhat easy if sometimes a bit up and down.

Just short of the cairn and flagging legs we spied what looked like wreckage, indeed it was , i found it a bit eerie mooching amongst this. Bits of old aluminium and broken gearbox bits but nothing to identify what type of aircraft this was. Later in contact with G4RQJ i was to learn it was an old stirling bomber.

What apparently happened was the aircraft crashed in October 1944 after clipping one wing on the summit, ripping it off and cart wheeling the rest of the aircraft over the summit. Six crew members were killed and only the rear gunner survived. Apparently this was one of the most complete wrecks left in England until the late seventy’s early eighties when the RAF and ATC recovered most of the fuselage and anything else they could get. What happened next is bit vague as it seems to be languishing in some museum somewhere (or maybe scrapped now) with the original intention to get another stirling flying again. ( or at least construct another). Maybe John Yss may know??

Well from that distraction we went to the summit cairn sheltering out of what was a wild wind across the summit. Whilst eating Lunch Rob G4RQJ popped up on nine Standards rig and as if by magic 3 or 4 other summits suddenly became alive. After setting up Stuart found 5megs dead but with a struggled contact with Andy on his summit he abandoned hf and took over on 2M, Meanwhile i had worked few on ssb but struggling with the beam in the wind. A lost contact with Mike G4BLH was sort after on 2m fm but could not find him. An hours struggle in the wind was enough and with a long walk back we packed up and left.

Some 2.5hrs later we arrived back at the cars, the only person we had seen was a shadowy figure up at the cairn as we surveyed the wreckage but by the time we had got there he was off in the other direction oh a land rover that gave us a cheery wave on the track (well the occupants).

Thanks to all who called in, both Stuart and myself have now completed all the NP,s and with me to do Raw head unless it gets chucked out first i will complete all the sp,s.

Rgds Keith G0OXV.

In reply to G0OXV-2:

Thanks to all who called in, both Stuart and myself have now completed
all the NP,s and with me to do Raw head unless it gets chucked out
first i will complete all the sp,s.

Good report Keith - thanks! Congratulations to you and Stuart on completing the NPs.

Re Raw Head you could wait until it is deleted and then you would have completed the SPs without walking another step. Not quite the same though.



In reply to G0OXV-2:

After setting up Stuart found 5megs dead but with a struggled contact
with Andy on his summit

Conditions were very strange. Stuart’s voice was a welcome sound as I’d been calling for about 5mins with no luck. I put on my CW beacon machine and had a sandwich in the howling gale blowing. After about 5 mins beaconing I went over to RX and there was Stuart. I least I knew I was TXing!

I know what you mean about walking around air wrecks. There is a decidedly strange feeling looking at them especially when you know some poor soul lost their life in the crash. Perhaps more so as my father survived a crash on take -off in fully fueled Wellington in 1942 and carried the scars with him for another 50 years. Having heard the story it makes the trauma of these wrecks much more vivid.

Thanks for the nice report.


In reply to MM0FMF:

Hi Andy, i hope you qualified it was only later i thought i could have given you a second contact, likewise Mike on vertical ssb. ah well the heat of battle,.

Re Wellingtons my father used to fly as gunner in one of those but their aircraft carried none as it was used mainly in recon patrol in the latter stages 1944/45. funny enough i was only looking at some of his photo,s on thursday of destroyed wellingtons when their base was attacked. I always think about him on Buckden pike re the tale of the fox and crashed polish crewed wellington. We have on the wall a plate i bought for some ridiculous price, of a wellington ( not a boot in case any youngsters are reading hi)from a shop in Windsor.

Well those dark times are over apart from other happenings in the world.

re Mickle i forgot to say they have the nicest shooting box,es i have ever seen i bet it costs a few quid there to bag a grouse!! potential activators would do well to consult shooting on the estate too after the glorious 12th or not if your a bird.


In reply to G0OXV:
Thanks for your report Keith,

I’m always on the lookout for any report featuring my all time favourite Fell. Yours did not disappoint.

I was on a local highpoint (Seamer Beacon - 600ft) yesterday ‘playing radio’ and got a tip-off from Roy G4SSH that you’d been spotted on 145 FM from NP2. I rushed up there but was too late. Some areas around Scarborough are just about workable from NP2 and Seamer Beacon is a prime site.

NP2 is probably the most remote NP and certainly the most interesting to me, not least because of LK488. You evidently found the impact point at NY 8092 2468. As you say, here there still lies what is in effect a gearbox. It is one of the prop-reduction units and would have had the prop & spinner attached to it prior to the crash. I took some photos of this wreckage in 1977: Stirling LK488's impact point near 'Boot... © John Earnshaw :: Geograph Britain and Ireland

The cartwheel was in a straight line via NY 8086 2480 (small items & 303 rounds) and NY 8082 2488. The latter spot is where huge amounts of the aircraft rested until 01-Sept-1977. All four (one ton) Bristol Hercules XVI radial engines were intact and on site until then and a 5m long intact fuselage section was a great place to have lunch if it was raining! One of the main-undercarriage tyres is still there. Another 1977 photo: Stirling LK488 final resting place on... © John Earnshaw cc-by-sa/2.0 :: Geograph Britain and Ireland
There are still significant quantities at NY 8087 2491 (wing section) NY 8099 2490 (Fuel tank parts) and at NY 8102 2481.

As for LK488’s current whereabouts: http://www.stirlingproject.co.uk/Newsy6b.html It was initially taken to Hendon Museum but is now elsewhere. Hopefully it will be restored at some point. I would love to go and see it again. I read recently that more bits may be recovered from NP2 in future.

On sifting through some of my old AAA mags after reading your report, I condensed the following.

Short Stirling LK488 was one of a batch of 42 Mk3’s produced by the Austin Motor Co at Longbridge in early 1944. It was delivered to 1651 HCU on 19-06-44 and then flown by various crews. On 18-Oct-44 it was allocated to a crew of seven young New Zealanders who had previously flown Wellingtons together.

Prior to their posting to a special duties squadron, this now experienced crew prepared to fly their final cross-country triangular training flight, leaving Wrattling Common at about 23:15. Hexham was planned as the apex and first turning point. After York with visibility decreasing badly, they decided to climb to 4,500ft but the aircraft struck the top 50 feet of Mickle’s summit ridge at 01:00 on 19-10-44.

The one survivor was tail gunner Sgt. Alan Small. His Quadruple Browning turret broke away, his flying apparel including helmet was lost and he was badly injured, with a serious head wound and smashed teeth. Apparently he somehow managed to get down to Birkdale Farm in the dark after checking the bodies of six crew members ‘scattered around the wrecked fuselage.’ He spent the next 5-weeks in Northallerton hospital. The WX was atrocious on the night of the accident but was the altimeter defective too? Sgt. Small discounted human error.

The removal was quite an operation over 2-days. A 33 Sqdn Puma helicopter loaded the wreckage onto two Queen Marys parked on the road below, after preparations by a Joint Air Transport Establishment team on the summit using wire strops and large nets. A cine film was made of the operation. RAF Catterick ‘chipped in’ with light trucks and an AvTur bowser. Air cadets were involved too. At one point the Puma had 22 people on it.

I have been to over 80 of these ‘high-ground wrecks’ now just to take photos. One theme recurs frequently. Another 100 feet and all would have been well.

It is not often that you see anybody on Mickle Fell but it was a bank holiday weekend I suppose.

I see you took the southern route. The northern one from Cow Green is OK too but only if you can ford Maize Beck. Either way, a bike comes in handy as it’s a long way to walk. Some walk north up the Cumbria-Durham boundary and others come in from the SW.

Pity about 60m. Seems you had a poor time on HF. I hope it picks up soon.

Great report & to talk with you & Stuart at the rally,
73 John G4YSS.

Congratualations Keith and Stuart for completing all the NP’s. Both of you have joined the hall of fame with me M3EYP, Tom (dad) M1EYP, Steve (Inky) G1INK, Richard (Ric) G3CWI and Clive M1YAM. Thanls Stuart for finally persuading Keith to go up Mickle Fell NP-002 with you. It has been nearly 3 years since you mentioned to me that this was your final NP, but you had to persuade Keith to go up it with you.

Jimmy M3EYP

In reply to G4YSS:

Thank you John

very informative its amazing what you can eventually find out, just by stumbling across a load of aluminium. Looking at the picture you took i dont know if it is an optical illusion but the wreckage we found seemed to be in a pronounced depression but not in your photo. Judging from what you say we have stumbled into what remains of that first wing section.

I didnt know there was more wreckage up there we might have explored a bit more but the wind didnt make it pleasurable except sheltering by the cairn.
The only other wreck site we tried to find was on the calf (top? i always get confused) just along the ridge to the summit but failed miserably.

Sorry to have missed you, i always monitor 2mfm even on descent except for yesterday, typical. I did switch on later and worked the wild boar expedition.

thanks again for the information i always try and take something from the walk either by looking at the geology or past history such as quarries and mines.

rgds keith

In reply to G0OXV-2:

i hope you qualified it

Just! I managed 5 but it was a struggle what with no propagation and the WX. I wasn’t in the mood for 40m and high tailed it down as soon as I could.

Re Wellingtons my father used to fly as gunner in one of those

Snap. My father was trained as rear gunner in Wellingtons. Lucky for him he broke is wrist when the guns jammed on a training mission. There were problems with the break healing and he was never allowed to operate the guns again. With the incredible short life expectancy for rear gunners had he not broken his wrist the chances I’d be around today are small indeed.

He then was an observer for coastal command based in Ireland and scrounged a lift back to England for a weekend’s leave on a Wellington that was flying to near Liverpool. That was the plane which crashed after an engine caught fire on take off. It didn’t quite make a loop back to the runway and belly flopped into the fields nearby. He was able to escape easily but went back in to the burning wreck twice to free two Polish airmen who were trapped and as a result suffered enough body burns to be in hospital for 3 months. My mother still goes cold when ever she sees somebody get a telegram from the War Dept. in a film. She can still recall getting hers. He got the George Medal for saving the two guys as wasn’t on active duty at the time. IIRC they tried to invalid him out but he managed to stay in and served on Short Sunderlands in and around Africa for the remainder.


In reply to G4YSS:

Pictures of the recovered fuselage:


Search for LK488 on the page to find them.


In reply to G0OXV-2:
Thanks Keith,
Yes, the impact point is a shallow but fairly large area depression 140m WSW of the ruin and is the only wreckage site on the south side of the ridge. The deep sink holes on the north side stopped most of the larger pieces.

I didn’t know about the Calf / Calf Top one but mines are of interest too. There is a Warwick (similar to a Wellington) on the Cheviot and Wellington BK347 (plus 5 others) on Gt. Whernside.

As for expensive shooting. I was told that the Kaiser used to shoot there pre-WW1 so it’s not second rate. There’s little wonder gamekeepers look after their grouse so diligently. There are Curlews, Redshanks and Lapwings there too.

NP2 greatly favours the NE on VHF but I did work a friend in his car on Beverley Road, Hull from there as well as stations in the Scarborough area but not the town itself, which is isolated by Racecourse Hill (485ft).

By the way, congrats on all the NP’s!! You did well.

All the best, John.

In reply to Andy:
I hadn’t seen those photos of 2008 so thanks. I can easily recognize the big bits from 30 years ago. There is some hope that it is moving up the list as a renovation project.

Your Dad was a real hero who won that decoration fair and square! Wallis designed Wellis to be very strong but they all burn well. In fact hot enough to melt ali into puddles.

Thanks again,

In reply to Richard:
I don’t know where Raw Head is but it now appears that I’ll never need to! I will cross it off my lists.

Thanks, John.

General - WX: It’s like summer in Scarborough but my XYL spent the last 4 days in GM at Loch Awe. It rained 90% of the time. My own GM SOTA sortie was cancelled as a result but I had a nice day at Cornelian Bay instead. Lakes walking week soon though. Hope the WX improves.

Who’ll be next in line for Mickle Fell, I wonder?