Friday, 31 July 2015

Roadtrip 2015; Lincolnshire

Last year i enjoyed a few days at Cranwell in Lincolnshire while Francis was vetting at a Horse Endurance event, despite the flat landscape it was full of old roads  and WW2 airfields and history to explore, you can read about that trip Here..

So when asked if i fancied another few days down south while Francis vetted at another Horse Endurance event at a different venue i jumped at the chance, jeep packed with tent, food, wine, cider and 2 dogs and 4 1/2 hours south on the A1 later  we rolled into Market Rasen race ground for the Lindum Spirit event,
In it`s 25th year so there was going to be some evening partying-perfect after a days cycling!...

The Wolds-not so flat here...
Now the average mountainbiker and most offroad cycling forums will tell you to avoid Lincolnshire for offroad cycling as there is nothing much worth riding, having ridden mountainbikes since 1987 and grown old through those years of uphills, downhills, getting big air etc, riding somewhere with differant countryside scenery is refreshing, and old roads and byways are still fun to cycle if you gear up on the right bike for it,
Any `Roughstuff` type bike is ideal for this area and my Surly Cross-Check Cyclo cross bike is ideal for decent country road riding and still offroad capable, My Dawes Ultra Galaxy would also have been fine offroad here, this visit to Lincolnshire was not as flat as around Cranwell last year,
I would be riding through the Wolds countryside and it also was very scenic with long rolling hills and once again those narrow country roads with wide verges. With the map i found many Bridleways and Byways to link up while i visited some places of interest to me from 75 years ago...


Surly Cross-Check was in it`s element here, the Alfine 8 speed hub ideal in long grass...



Lincolnshire; Bomber County;
I spent a day cycling to East Kirby and  visited the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre,
It was a 60 odd mile cycle round trip to here though by the end of the day with some detours on the return i racked up a whopping 81 miles, but it was worth it...
During WW2 there were around 40 RAF Airfields in Lincolnshire and the skies must have roared to Bomber Command aircraft. There were many types of bomber in WW2, the most famous and could carry the largest heaviest loads was the Avro Lancaster. The Dambusters is one of the most famous raids of WW2 and 617 Squadron flew them from their base in nearby RAF Scampton...

East Kirby was home to 57 Squadron and 630 Squadron...


And today is home to the Avro Lancaster  bomber `Just Jane`,






I heard the roar of the 4 Merlin engines as i arrived and raced in just as they switched off, the noise was unreal!...


Good news was there was another taxi ride at 1.30pm so i had a couple of hours to look around the museum..


Up close and the reality of the lack of space that must be inside the plane becomes evident, here the tail gunners cockpit looks tiny. It must have been a long night sat in here for up to 10 hours as temperatures at Operational height at 20,000 feet were as low as -25Celcius, The tail gunners heated suit did not always work, and his bar of chocolate that all 7 crew were given for each flight would be frozen solid anyway...



Only three runners left...
7377  Lancaster`s were built, and nearly half of those were lost in operations during WW2,
Only three remain in running order now,
Two  still fly, one in Canada and one here in Lincolnshire at RAF Conisby, the other is `Just Jane` here at East Kirby.
In summer it runs and the public can pay for taxi rides, part of Lincolnshire`s Memorial to Bomber Command...


Taxi ride folk get to sit in all the seats- not here in the pilots seat when it is running!, a real experience, every taxi ride is sold out for 2015, maybe next year...



Walking around the main hanger, loads of stuff around a Dakota...


With so many aircraft in Lincolnshire in WW2  there was inevitable crashes, and The Lincolnshire Aircraft Recovery Group L.A.R.G  has since the 1970s been researching crashes sites and recovered artifacts and information boards tell the story of these aircraft and the crews who flew them...



All around the Dakota is loads to read up on and see up close...






The `Tall Boy` and `Grand Slam` Earthquake bombs,  carried by Lancaster's, invented by Barnes Wallis







Faces of Heroes...
I took this pic of this old chap who i was standing beside when i noticed he had tears in his eyes as he looked along the gallery of crews and their aircraft. I asked him if he was ok, he said he was, he said he knew many of these men. I said we owe you all so much for what you did, and he said thank you...
One of the  few veterans alive today 70 odd years later, here to pay his respects...



55,573...
55,573 out of 125,000 men lost their lives flying in Bomber Command,
They were all volunteers, and their average age was just 22,
By 1943 only 1 in 6 aircrews were expected to complete their first tour of 30 operations...
All were volunteers...

Blogging friend Alistair`s late father was a Lancaster tail gunner in 153 Squadron in 1944/45 and Alistair has blogged his fathers Squadron operations which you can read about by following back from here; 153 Squadron Operations

Alistair also made this moving film dedicated to 153 (Bomber Command) Squadron and the rest of the Bomber boys..

   

Alistair`s father flew in Operation Manna `Food from the Heavens` that took place in the last weeks of the war in Europe in April 1945.  Thousands of tons of food was dropped by Lancaster's to starving Dutch civilians after Germany had enforced a food embargo after the Dutch strike that closed all rail links to aid the Allied invasions of June 1944 by deterring German forces rail movement across  Holland.
Again you can read Alistair`s blog on Operation Manna Here...

Here at the Museum is a lot of information on Operation Manna... something that many Bomber Command airmen that were involved must have felt good to be doing some good to help people after previous missions...








Here is a short film on Operation Manna...


Loads of artifacts here to see...



Including a Bouncing bomb!... the genius invention of Barnes Wallis...




Meanwhile modern day RAF Typhoons from RAF Conisby flew over regularly...



Control tower recreated to as it would have been operating...



`Just Jane` awaits the next group for the taxi ride experience...


Then it was time to start up those four famous Merlin V12 engines, if you have ever been under a Lancaster as it flys over the sound is incredible,  here is film from 2 years ago at East Fortune when the BBMF visited....
14; July; East Fortune Airshow 2014; Battle of Britain Memorial Flight from coastkid71 on Vimeo.
Avro Lancaster, Supermarine Spitfire, Hawker Hurricane







In the modern day obsessed health and safety world it was great to stand feet away as these engines fired up...


And slowly she rolled forward as the wing end passed overhead...






I filmed the start, taxi out and return,  and just as it returned the pilot pulled up and gave the engines the max, the sound was incredible!!!,  the roar was deafening and the ground shook, this was just one Lancaster on full pitch,  imagine 100 or so in a box, it must have brought some feeling of safety for the aircrews as they flew deep into enemy territory at night...

East Kirby Avro Lancaster `Just Jane` July 2015 from coastkid71 on Vimeo.
The Avro Lancaster Bomber `Just Jane` at East Kirby Airfield, Lincolnshire UK,
East Kirby is home to the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre,
Info here; http://www.lincsaviation.co.uk/








Never recognised, but always will be remembered...
Despite the sacrifice of these young men Bomber Command was the only service to not be awarded a medal at the end of WW2.
The bombing campaign has since the end of WW2 been a controversial topic.
But those who served and survived and those who never returned will always be remembered for their bravery...


It took 67 years until a memorial was unveiled by the Queen on June 28th 2012 to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in RAF Bomber Command... we owe them a lot...





Home on wide open country B roads away from the busy A roads that are no fun to cycle on if no cycle path...


I thought about what it must have been like around here 75 years ago, and those losses.
Home i watched this film  with footage in Lincolnshire during WW2...



Back to today and taking in some nice easy off road Byways between the roads home...


Passing golden fields of winter Barley i could hear a familiar drone...


And there it was, first combine out harvesting i have seen in 2015...


Heading home and a short distance on a scary A road to Horncastle...


Classic Lincolinshire buildings of red brick and Pan tile slates like we have on old roofs here in East Lothian, again the Dutch have left their mark here too...
And so many Antique shops!...


Home and party time as Francis`s birthday!, Red wine went down a treat!...



RAF Conisby;
Heavy rain later that night and i was happy to take  Francis`s jeep after cycling 80 miles yesterday to drive to RAF Conisby, home of the Red Arrows, and also the  `Battle of Britain Memorial Flight` (BBMF)


For £7 you get a tour guide who shows you through the BBMF hanger. Outside were the two Hawker Hurricanes and a Spitfire...





A Hurricane taxed out and took off, then minutes later came back in...


I shot some film of the Hurricane as it came in, some Merlin music...
Hurricane taxi at RAF Conisby from coastkid71 on Vimeo.
One of two Hawker Hurricanes of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) taxi`s in to park up outside the hanger,
More info on the BBMF and their aircraft here; http://www.raf.mod.uk/bbmf/

When the pilot jumped out he looked a fit young bloke, then i thought about  how he was actually a seasoned pilot probably in his mid twenties to thirties who had previously served in conflicts as all BBMF pilots have, and the young men who flew these aircraft in 1940 who were really just kids flew these planes into battle with only a few hours solo flying experience against  heavily outnumbered experienced pilots who had already flown in combat in Spain before the outbreak of WW2... it starts to put things into perspective...


A few minutes later the Hanger erupted to the sound outside of a Spitfire starting up, it would be flying to Edinburgh to fly over my home of East Fortune the next day at the Airshow...


Meanwhile our guide talkeds about the Rolls Royce Griffon and Merlin Engines...


Between the noise of that live Merlin as it taxied out...


The amazing engine itself...











Not flying after a recent engine fire is the UKs other operation Lancaster, and this one will again be flying soon...








Lastly the armament of these planes, 303, 50mm and Hispano...





Driving home in the rain i passed the RAF Thrope museum that was sadly closed today...


Lightning Jet...


RAF Thrope is a museum dedicated to the airmen  based around Woodhall Spa. In the town itself is a memorial to those who did not return from Operations...





Loads of wine that evening then next day i went for a cycle and rode past RAF Scampton...




Daft me did not email them to request to visit the museum, the home of the Dambusters 617 Squadron, and see the famous grave of Nigger, Sqn Leader Guy Gibson's black Labrador, as you need 2 weeks notice to enter being a RAF base, and also home to the Red Arrows, who would today be flying back home over East Fortune Airshow...  always next time...

Again riding through the country B roads i could see loads of former airfields, the perimeter (peri) tracks still visible along with the odd RAF building...



There is a lot of old property for sale here...



More old byways back to camp...


And a well earned cider or two before each evenings clubhouse dinner and prize givings for the days endurance riders...


Took a pic of this lovely picture...


There was loads of stuff going on like fancy dress for the kids on ponies etc...
And there was a dog show!, and guess what?, Francis entered Mowgli and he won first in the `Good Mover` category!,, i wonder if the judges had seen his cycling films lol!...



Last day and a cycle through the local Willington woods...


There is a dedicated Mountainbike area with purpose built trails...


Feels like Years ago... since i would ride stuff like this kicker.  i did decline the temptation on the CX bike!...


Happy to stick to old roads and Byways...



This Byway was over 3 miles long.


And it went through lovely quiet countryside and passed something you don't see here in East Lothian..


Fields of Maize crop...

And that`s a wrap for this years Summer holidays Roadtrip, Home in sideways rain and a crap forecast i decided to paint the house as everything has been sitting waiting, finished today i rode Tyninghame Woods to route check for this weekends SERC Horse Endurance Championships here at Seacliff, though the horses don`t go up the dunes!, Nice to get out the house after 3 days painting but worth doing before my favourite time of year for cycling in East Lothian, and when i rode back through the estate i could here a familiar drone




It`s begun!...



More soon...

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