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Spadeadam & Northumberland - how to find viewing points

Spadeadam & Northumberland - how to find viewing points

Postby hertsman » Sun May 09, 2010 3:15 pm

First an admission and an apology: the information posted below is not my information. It is a collection of various posts, or parts of posts, mostly from the old FC, and is sourced from a number of different people. I originally kept the information for my own purposes for a long hoped for visit to Spadeadam. However, I did not keep the names or usernames of the people who originally authored the posts so, if you recognise your input here, my apologies for not being able to give you proper credit. I hope you take this in the spirit that, as you originally willingly shared your knowledge to help others, you will not now mind my passing it on again on the latest version of FC. You may be able to add to or update your advice (and take credit for it), which I am sure would be apreciated by any new visitors to the area.

QUOTES: "

Spadeadam viewing (per posts on FC website)

[1] If aircraft are using the western part of the range then I had some good viewing on a narrow minor road at 54°59'24.05"N 2°39'5.55"W - careful with your parking here though as it is narrow with soft verges and ditches, and as elsewhere the locals quite rightly won't be best pleased if you block the road. This has good views over to Spadeadam's Prior Lancy site, which was the site for engine test stands for the Blue Streak rocket, as well as good views south over to the Pennines. The Tornados (Monsters 1 & 2) did transit straight over this location while I was there.


[2] Directions for Spadeadam viewing - from the B6318, on the north side of the river Irthing at Gisland, take the right turn towards Gisland Spa hotel, continue due north to just past a property called Moscow (about 2.7 kilometers from the B6318 junction).
Take the slightly unobvious right hand turn at NY625688 onto the narrow road heading due NE to Wileysike, Butterburn & Churnsike.
(If you miss the turn and keep heading north, past various signs and cameras, be prepared to come to a stop at the main Spadeadam security gates!! There is however a view of the horizontal body of a Blue Streak rocket inside the base.)
The public road passes through woodland and then as a single track road onto open grassland with a fairly large hardstanding area to park and walk across to one of the larger waterfalls in Northumberland - the valley here is sometimes used by low flying helicopters.
Beyond this at NY643704 is a small compound with a very small parking area opposite - this is sometimes used by FACs and parking may be restricted to any Spadeadam personnel, so best to check first. There is another similar area about 900m further on, which is rarely used, so parking should be okay. Both spots are open to 360° views and are good for photography. Most action is to the north, running mainly right to left, but there can be low level overflights. The road is narrow and regularly used by locals, verges are very soft and care should be taken about where you park.
Beyond this sector has limited parking and turning areas, but can be a good area if helicopters are using the range.

Spotting Sites in Northumberland FC 20 Mar 09:

I drive about the north fairly often and by way of observation note the following areas to explore (some of which you may have already sussed out)
1/ Inbound to Otterburn from the east - I've often seen plenty of activity around Bamburgh southwards, and if you drew a line from Bamburgh to Alwinton, and another line from Alnmouth to Otterburn village, you have an approximation of corridor used to fly into the Otterburn range. Within this corridor there are a few possible high spots to explore around Chatton Moor/Ros castle/Bewick Moor, Simonside, hills NE of Alwinton and Harbottle Hills on the edge of the range.
2/. Inbound to Otterburn and Spadeadam from the south - the Pennine moors in a corridor with its east side being a line between Tow Law to Riding Mill and its west side being a line following the West Allen river valley (and I guess this could be extended right the way across to the Eden valley, but I don't know much about flight routes in that area!). Stanhope Common and Hexhamshire Common can have a fair degree of overflight, with the A68 occasionally being followed by helicopters and hercs. This corridor then leads north into the North Tyne valley which leads up into Otterburn range and westwards into the Spadeadam range. For the latter, a single track road leading form Nunwick/Simonburn up to Stonehaugh follows a ridgeline and low flying aircraft can be seen to the north side of this road above Gofton and Warks Burns. This route leads into the Wiley Sike part of the range to the north side of the Hopealone aerial across Scotchcoultard Waste (great name). The area between Scotchcoulthard waste and Churnside Lodge can be a good place to see helicopters.
3/. As noted above, another corridor into Spadeadam will be via the west Pennines and Eden valley, and I recently had some good viewing of aircraft using the west side of the range overflying the minor road near Allieshaw Rigg near Birdoswald. The poor photo below gives an idea of the height (just a shame that I wasn't better prepared!)

Sorry not to have much specifics, but the chance to see and photograph low flying aircraft in the east seems to be so much a case of good luck rather than planning, especially now-a-days. But if linked to NOTAMs re flights & jamming at Brunton, for example, then perhaps your luck will be

FC Posting 23 Apr 09

The ingress transit corridor into Spadeadam seems to be Duridge Bay - Scots Gap - Bellingham but I may be mistaken with the coordinates!

From FC posting 25 Apr 09

Wiley Sike

Directions for Spadeadam viewing - from the B6318, on the north side of the river Irthing at Gisland, take the right turn towards Gisland Spa hotel, continue due north to just past a property called Moscow (about 2.7 kilometers from the B6318 junction).
Take the slightly unobvious right hand turn at NY625688 onto the narrow road heading due NE to Wileysike, Butterburn & Churnsike.
(If you miss the turn and keep heading north, past various signs and cameras, be prepared to come to a stop at the main Spadeadam security gates!! There is however a view of the horizontal body of a Blue Streak rocket inside the base.)

The public road passes through woodland and then as a single track road onto open grassland with a fairly large hardstanding area on the right to park and walk across to one of the larger waterfalls in Northumberland - the valley here is sometimes used by low flying helicopters.

This road is narrow and regularly used by locals, verges are very soft and care should be taken about where & how you park.

Beyond this at NY643704 is a small compound with a very small parking area opposite - this is sometimes used by FACs and parking may be restricted to any Spadeadam personnel, so best to check first.
For us photographers, if FACs are in-situ, have a chat - they may help the photo opportunities!
There is another similar area about 900m further on, which is rarely used, so parking should be okay.

Both spots are open to 360° views and are good for photography. Most action is to the north, running mainly right to left (or vice versa) with traffic coming in from Hopealone for example, and there can be low level overflights.
A fair bit of the northern part of the range, such as Berry Hill and the 'airfield' is however hidden beyond a ridgeline in the centre of the range to the north of Wiley Sike - most of these areas can only be seen from outside of the range and can be difficult to photograph.
Areas off the road should not generally be walked across and it should be assumed that there can be old ordanance still lying around - you may also interfer with range use or the photo opportunities for others!

Beyond this sector has only limited parking and turning areas, but can be a good area if helicopters are using the range.
The really keen walkers and cyclists may find some good opportunities by using the track from the road just before Churnside Lodge and Bewcastle (approx along the Northing 76 line) - I haven't been up there yet but it could be a good viewing spot near Hazelrigg Crag area for aircraft using the northern sector of the range.

Staying near Spadadam (FC post 12 May 09)

There are numerous B & B establishments within 2to 3 miles of Spade:

• The nearest:- Howard House Farm 2 miles from Wiley Syke B & B only (Cumbrian Miles)

• The next also 2 miles:- Gilsland Spa Hotel owned by the Co-op they do nice inexpensive lunches and dinners.

• This is my favourite:- Bush Nook Guest house 4 miles from Wiley Syke but has commanding views over most of Spadeadam Range, B & B and Dinner not to be missed.

FC posting 8 Mar 10

I think unfortunately some of the previous information posted about good spotting locations disappeared in the 'reorganising' of this site last year.

Wiley Sike at Spadeadam tends to be the place to head for but what's there and when can be rather a good guessing game. If heading there get a good map, don't enter the main MOD area, instead turn right near Moscow NY 62540 68820, stick to the road, don't wander onto the grass (there may not be many signs but they may be rather unhappy to see you in the wrong place), and be considerate of the local users of the single lane track as there aren't many good passing places but there are many good soft verges!

Some of the lead-in locations to the east can be worth taking a risk - a road from Simonburn to Stonehaugh runs parallel to a lead-in valley but again its a single lane road with few passing places, soft verges and some big fast timber lorries hurtling towards you.

If near Otterburn, again a bit of a guessing game, but have a look at http://www.otterburnranges.co.uk/home/map/ and http://www.northumberlandnationalpark.o ... ainingarea - aircraft can tend to access from Rothbury direction and head into range near Harbottle area or come over from the south west / Spadeadam near Kielder. If big guns are about they can be spectacular to watch too. There are some very good leaflets about the range so pcik them up at the TIC in Otterburn Mill.

FC posting 20 Mar 10

However, re Spadeadam (and elsewhere in this region) much will depend on what is happening, luck and sod's law.
Spadeadam should be fine for 400mm if the action is in the Wiley Sike part of the range and is relatively low level. It is the best general location for photography in this area.
You can get to some areas on the fringes of the range that are on the run-in routes and hit lucky on the rare occasions.
If FAC are at Wiley Sike then chances are improved if the lads are chatty and friendly (& vice versa).
And on Thursday you'll generally find a group of stalwarts at Wiley Sike who seem to be part of the scenery(!!), enjoy a chat and have lots of good knowledge about Spade and other areas.
If aircraft are using the northern or western parts of the range then any lens is pretty limited - I have a cheap and cheerful Oly 600mm max zoom and you're still a long way from the nice detail type photos.

NOTAMS for Spade will give a few clues for FAC type ops, but odds and sods will come by on other days - range officers here and at Otterburn could give useful info in the past (but I gather can sometimesbe less helpful now-a-days), but I tend to just go and enjoy the scenery and cross fingers!

Good luck - if nothing else there's some lovely scenery to see, so hope the weather holds good for you too.

I'm not too sure about Otterburn, but check the webpages noted previously for a few clues nearer the time, as well as the MOD exercises/low fly web pages. "

END OF QUOTES

Hope this is helpful to people visiting the area and I haven't upset anyone by copying it here. Moderators - please amend or delete if I've transgressed any rules.

hertsman
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Re: Spadeadam & Northumberland - how to find viewing points

Postby catkins » Sun May 09, 2010 7:45 pm

Pleased to see the recovery of some of the previous postings - those that are mine I have already noted that I have no problem with seeing them reposted. All we need now is some action on the range!
Regards
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Re: Spadeadam & Northumberland - how to find viewing points

Postby Airplane nerd » Mon May 21, 2012 11:43 am

When there are gunnery exersises on the range you usually see Puma flying up a valley that is NE of Alwington to run in
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2.) Get the fast air in
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Re: Spadeadam & Northumberland - how to find viewing points

Postby jpgreenwood » Tue Jul 14, 2015 7:33 am

This is really helpful for me as a beginner and amateur photographer. Im hoping to come across on 27-28 July and hope to catch some aircraft and maybe photograph the waterfall.
Can anyone clarify where at Spade this is.....
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gU8ywnsAvzI
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Re: Spadeadam & Northumberland - how to find viewing points

Postby Skoshi » Tue Jul 14, 2015 9:04 am

jpgreenwood wrote:This is really helpful for me as a beginner and amateur photographer. Im hoping to come across on 27-28 July and hope to catch some aircraft and maybe photograph the waterfall.
Can anyone clarify where at Spade this is.....
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gU8ywnsAvzI


that's the gorge just behind the view point at Wiley, takes about 20 mins to walk to that point.
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Re: Spadeadam & Northumberland - how to find viewing points

Postby jpgreenwood » Tue Jul 14, 2015 9:27 am

Are there footpaths or signs to point me in the right direction? How will I know as a newbie where to find the right places?
Am I right that the viewpoint is the red/white caravan?

Also, can anyone advise on Dunmail?
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Re: Spadeadam & Northumberland - how to find viewing points

Postby Skoshi » Fri Jul 17, 2015 9:17 pm

as u come out of the forest just over the second cattle grid there is a sign post, you can park off road there and follow the well trodden path :)
Steve...

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Re: Spadeadam & Northumberland - how to find viewing points

Postby Al dunn » Tue Aug 11, 2015 4:29 pm

Can the static aircraft be viewed from the outside. I am visiting relatives in the area next weekend end and thought it would be worth a look
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Re: Spadeadam & Northumberland - how to find viewing points

Postby Skoshi » Tue Aug 11, 2015 5:34 pm

Just 1 T-33 as you drive to Wiley Sike clearly visable... 55° 1'15.78"N 2°34'42.22"W. The 2 T-33's that were at 55° 2'14.96"N 2°33'26.77"W are long gone (google earth still not updated ) and unfortunately the rest are on the "airfield site" at 55° 3'54.51"N 2°32'54.58"W which cant be seen from the roads.

hope that helps...
Steve...

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Re: Spadeadam & Northumberland - how to find viewing points

Postby johnhowe » Wed Aug 12, 2015 6:47 pm

The FC Post staying near Spadeadam 12 may 09 is one of my original posts and all the establishments listed are still offering the usual Cumbrian welcome with superb breakfasts. I have also found another site which will be of great interest to my fellow spotters.

http://www.targeta.co.uk/low_level_uklfs.htm credits to the the providers of this fantastic info.
https://uk.images.search.yahoo.com/sear ... ews_web_gs
Last edited by johnhowe on Tue Apr 12, 2016 9:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Spadeadam & Northumberland - how to find viewing points

Postby warrior2035 » Thu Aug 13, 2015 2:41 pm

A single MIG on the 'airfield' is just visible from Butterburn now that some trees have been felled.
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Re: Spadeadam & Northumberland - how to find viewing points

Postby toom317 » Thu Aug 13, 2015 8:56 pm

warrior2035 wrote:A single MIG on the 'airfield' is just visible from Butterburn now that some trees have been felled.


Is it a Mig or a Mystere? There were a few Mysteres on the range a while ago, but it's been ages since I've been round that way
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Re: Spadeadam & Northumberland - how to find viewing points

Postby Neil Owen » Sun Aug 16, 2015 4:28 pm

I was there today. The T-33 on the road in to Butterburn is still easily visible and not too far off the road.

I then drove on through the ford at Butterburn to the spot where the trees have been felled. From here you can see an ex French Mystere IV. Then parked here and walked across the very boggy land to this Mystere, its one of a group of 4 - 2 X Mysteres and 2 X belgium T-33. Then from here an easy walk round the other airframes, SU-22 on its own , another group of 2 X Mystere IV and 2 X Belgium T-33, then 2 groups of 2 X Mystere IVs. So 14 aircraft in total when including the T-33 on the drive in. You just have to be prepared for a 45min walk each way in very wet peat - probably not the best day to pick given all the rain in the last few days. Lots of signs saying do not walk here when the red flags are flying - but today they were not so OK. So probably not one to do mid week.
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Re: Spadeadam & Northumberland - how to find viewing points

Postby Neil Owen » Wed Aug 19, 2015 12:44 pm

139/8-MR should be the Mystere IV currently visible from the road.
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Re: Spadeadam & Northumberland - how to find viewing points

Postby johnhowe » Thu Jul 14, 2016 7:23 am

Access to the Irthing Gorge where certain helicopters attempt to fly below radar coverage can be gained by walking from the Gilsland Spa Hotel car park, pass Sir Walter Scott's stone down to the river Irthing and climb into the tree line which is visible from Wiley Syke, all you need are good boots.
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Re: Spadeadam & Northumberland - how to find viewing points

Postby johnhowe » Fri Jan 06, 2017 12:11 pm

When you visit Otterburn you may be lucky and see some of the modern equipment that is used on the ranges.

https://uk.images.search.yahoo.com/yhs/ ... tion=click

viewtopic.php?f=16&t=151840 Chris Atkins (Catkins) Photos of US ARMY AH 64 Apache at Otterburn.
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Re: Spadeadam & Northumberland - how to find viewing points

Postby Andy_99 » Mon Oct 16, 2017 7:12 pm

Now that I'm living in the NE I'd like to give Otterburn a visit, are there any spotters guides anywhere or info on places worth visiting that the locals can share ?

Thanks

Andy
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