Jump to content

Visiting old airbases/airfields in the UK


Recommended Posts

6 hours ago, Alex Gordon said:

The Petwood is a  pleasant place to visit but there's only the Squadron Bar that has any memorabilia or artefacts.I haven't been in for a few years but finding anyone who knew anything was non existent.The Blue Bell at Tattershall Thorpe is a place close to my heart,I used to work there many moons ago.It's good spot for some memorabilia and I understand the grub to be good.The signatures on the ceiling was started by Eric Johnson,a landlord from the late '80s until 2000 or so,when he invited a handful of visiting veterans to leave their mark for posterity.Some of the captions on photo's on the wall in there are a bit adrift,that was one of the things I was attending to bit by bit as  could find any gen.Tattershall Thorpe museum ,I think,is open on Sundays during the season and is well worth the couple of quid or so for a walk round.I've been in there several times and still not managed to get round all of it properly.There's not a lot left of RAF Woodhall Spa,627s hangar and its access road is about all.Most of the runway and the peri track was dug up and crushed for the aggregate by the quarrying firm that had it from the mid '80s until fairly recently.There is no public access to what's left.

The viewing area at Coningsby has space to park up but if there's something special happening it fills up very convincingly.There is a separate car park for BBMF and it is also well worth a visit.During show season you're not guaranteed to see everything because they are operating their schedule.BBMF tours are weekdays only,the council operate that bit and they don't work weekends.The tours themselves are led by knowledgeable veterans who are volunteers.As far as digs go there are a number of B and B's locally,a few hotels and a number of camp sites and lodges available.        

Thanks Alex, a nice B&B close to an old pub will do me rightly! I'll keep the Blue Bell in mind. I don't know when I'll be over, tentatively looking at late September, but all dependant on you know what. Didn't realise you could do a BBMF tour. That will definitely need done!

1 hour ago, Dave Swindell said:

Elvington is definitely worth a visit

Two more to consider as you'll be driving pretty close by them:-

http://www.dumfriesaviationmuseum.com/

http://www.solway-aviation-museum.co.uk/

A few suggestions for Elvington, I'll have to add it to the list. Those other 2 you have suggested also look good. Will have to see what time I have :lol:

3 hours ago, Pete F said:

As you pass York you are only 30 minutes from Elvington. Amongst other wonders they have a restored control tower, a Halibag and an Upkeep bomb. It is an excellent museum.

Sounds like it's worth a visit!

5 hours ago, bentwaters81tfw said:

Bassingbourn museum has closed. You won't get on the base as it's still used by Gov't agencies.

I would check out the museums at Rougham (Bury St Edmunds)  https://rctam94th.co.uk/

Parham (Framlingham)  http://www.parhamairfieldmuseum.co.uk/

Halesworth  http://www.halesworthairfieldmuseum.co.uk/

Thorpe Abbotts  https://www.100bgmus.org.uk/

 

All excellent. If they are not normally open on the day you want to visit, contact them, someone will usually rock up.

Ah that's a shame about Bassingbourn, those other 4 will be on the list.

Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Rickoshea52 said:

Looking at your route along the M4 you could take a wee detour south at Chieveley services onto the A34 and take in Greenham Common. The runway is long gone but the control tower still exists as do some of the missile dumps and the buildings on the south side of the airfield which can be driven around freely. 

 

 

There is also a museum of some kind there about the bunkers and other stuff associated with them. This maybe part of the tower I am not sure.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Jabba said:

 

There is also a museum of some kind there about the bunkers and other stuff associated with them. This maybe part of the tower I am not sure.

We should be at model club Mark!

Link to post
Share on other sites

So far, the definites:

 

RAF Cosford museum

Battle of Britain Bunker, Uxbridge

Greenham Common

Biggin Hill

Duxford

Rougham

Parham

Thorpe Abbotts

Halesworth

Lakenheath

BBMF tour, Coningsby

Scampton (heritage tours are still available according to the internet, a phone call to arrange)

Elvington

 

More to add of course. Would plan to stay a night around the Uxbridge/Greenham Common area, then up to somewhere in Cambridge, via Biggin Hil, which would be handy for Duxford and the USAAF bases in Norfolk/Suffolk. Somewhere in Lincolnshire for a few nights which would be close the the plethora of places in that area.

 

So far, all told, the loop from Cairnryan down as far south as Biggin Hill then up the east coast looks about 20-22 hours of driving, then with various detours along the way. Easy!

 

Thanks for all the suggestions thus far.

 

Dave

Link to post
Share on other sites

Steeple Morden is worth building in whilst you are in Cambridgeshire. The memorial is very good and overlooks what remains of the airfield and buildings (turned back to agriculture). Nonetheless you certainly get a feel for what was there.

 

https://cambsaviationheritage.org.uk/aviation-heritage-trail/steeple-morden/

 

The Cambridge American cemetery is also absolutely somewhere to visit. It hits home the enormity of the aircrew losses.  

 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
47 minutes ago, Steve 1602 said:

Steeple Morden is worth building in whilst you are in Cambridgeshire. The memorial is very good and overlooks what remains of the airfield and buildings (turned back to agriculture). Nonetheless you certainly get a feel for what was there.

 

https://cambsaviationheritage.org.uk/aviation-heritage-trail/steeple-morden/

 

The Cambridge American cemetery is also absolutely somewhere to visit. It hits home the enormity of the aircrew losses.  

 

Definitely and just off the M11 A14 interchange 2 junctions up from Duxford.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, DaveJL said:

Suggestion for route simplicity:

Duxford  M11 to Madingley Cemetery, then A-14 to Rougham (Trading Estate) A-14 to* A140 to A143 to Thorpe Abbotts, (signed 100BG) A143 (Bungay junction) A144 to Halesworth A144 - A12 to

Parham (signed from Little Glemham). Then to Framlingham take A1120 westbound to A140 and* A14 (Bury-Thetford A134 -A11 Elvedon B1106 Brandon A1065 to Lakenheath watching the flying. Approach from Brandon for car park (Brandon Tesco for food and bogs). 

Then up to Kings Lynn A17 Sleaford then BBMF tour, Coningsby

* Travelodge BK and fuel at this interchange.

Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, Steve 1602 said:

Steeple Morden is worth building in whilst you are in Cambridgeshire. The memorial is very good and overlooks what remains of the airfield and buildings (turned back to agriculture). Nonetheless you certainly get a feel for what was there.

 

https://cambsaviationheritage.org.uk/aviation-heritage-trail/steeple-morden/

 

The Cambridge American cemetery is also absolutely somewhere to visit. It hits home the enormity of the aircrew losses.  

 

Thanks for the info mate, will definitely add that to the list.

11 hours ago, bentwaters81tfw said:

* Travelodge BK and fuel at this interchange.

 

Thanks mate, I'll be relying on the sat nav in the car to get me around :lol: Is there a spotting area signposted for Lakenheath?

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, DaveJL said:

.

 

Thanks mate, I'll be relying on the sat nav in the car to get me around :lol: Is there a spotting area signposted for Lakenheath?

Yep. Leave Brandon on the A1065 westbound, and about 2 miles out of town, you will come to Traffic Lights. Turn right (Feltwell) and immediately left and the car park is on the left. You will be right under the approach at the lights. They don't fly on Friday afternoons normally.

Link to post
Share on other sites
41 minutes ago, bentwaters81tfw said:

Yep. Leave Brandon on the A1065 westbound, and about 2 miles out of town, you will come to Traffic Lights. Turn right (Feltwell) and immediately left and the car park is on the left. You will be right under the approach at the lights. They don't fly on Friday afternoons normally.

That's great, thanks mate! A bit of flying there and Coningsby would be most welcome.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Its a pity you want to sit in traffic on the M4 as 40 minutes or so to the south you could see a number of PRE WW1 airfields at Upavon, Netheravon and Larkhill before some dating from WW1, Boscombe Down (still active in these days of lock-down) and Old Sarum (no longer active but contains a museum of Boscombe Down related aircraft) before crossing Porton Down (another WW1 airfield) to Middle Wallop a Battle of Britain fighter base and still Europe's largest military grass airfield, home to the Army Air Corps and its museum. From there you could continue your trip east sitting in the traffic on the A303 and M3.

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

4 minutes ago, Aeronut said:

Its a pity you want to sit in traffic on the M4 as 40 minutes or so to the south you could see a number of PRE WW1 airfields at Upavon, Netheravon and Larkhill before some dating from WW1, Boscombe Down (still active in these days of lock-down) and Old Sarum (no longer active but contains a museum of Boscombe Down related aircraft) before crossing Porton Down (another WW1 airfield) to Middle Wallop a Battle of Britain fighter base and still Europe's largest military grass airfield, home to the Army Air Corps and its museum. From there you could continue your trip east sitting in the traffic on the A303 and M3.

You'll have to forgive me for that, I'm only going by what Google maps is saying as I have little to no knowledge of the English road network! I'll be using the sat-nav for everywhere. 

 

I visited Middle Wallop, almost a decade ago now, when I was going for AAC selection.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, DaveJL said:

 I'll be using the sat-nav for everywhere. 

I recommend that you do not do that.

a. use google maps and print out sections of 'from - to'. 

b also use a map book.

I did that for a long trip a couple of years ago

 

Between my sat nav and my mate's one we found about 30 errors between Liverpool, Cosford and Telford

My sat nav has 20 errors just for around Donaghadee and about 30 for the Dungannon/Cookstown/Armagh area

Link to post
Share on other sites
47 minutes ago, Black Knight said:

I recommend that you do not do that.

a. use google maps and print out sections of 'from - to'. 

b also use a map book.

I did that for a long trip a couple of years ago

 

Between my sat nav and my mate's one we found about 30 errors between Liverpool, Cosford and Telford

My sat nav has 20 errors just for around Donaghadee and about 30 for the Dungannon/Cookstown/Armagh area

What sat nav is that?! I've used the one in my car many times and has been spot on each time!

 

I've also used the app Waze on the continent and in the states, and again, it's been bang on.

Link to post
Share on other sites

So, following the recommendations from members, I've made a rough route for the second part so to speak, of my planned trip. Starting off from IWM Duxford (any recommendations for lodging anywhere in this general area would be great), with the last site being RAF Lakenheath for seem Eagle watching.

 

49891916132_0c9dd2cce8_b.jpg

 

First part is the trip down from Cairnryan, taking in RAF Cosford, with stay close to Uxbridge, then visits to Greenham Comman and Biggin Hill before heading toward Duxford for the above route.

 

Any suggestions for heading into Lincolnshire for stops etc?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Post Covid there are no guarantees what accommodation will be available. Depending or where you end up for the night, and how much you want to spend.

Might be a question better asked when you have finalised your dates. I could give you more sites to visit in this area, but there is the risk of overkill, and I have mentioned the better ones.

Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, bentwaters81tfw said:

Post Covid there are no guarantees what accommodation will be available. Depending or where you end up for the night, and how much you want to spend.

Might be a question better asked when you have finalised your dates. I could give you more sites to visit in this area, but there is the risk of overkill, and I have mentioned the better ones.

Let's just hope some survive. I won't even be looking at dates until we see how the roadmap out of lockdown pans out. I already had leave booked for the last week in September for an International trip that I'll likely be cancelling.

 

Please let me know of your other sites mate, I'd like to take in as much as possible.

6 minutes ago, Dave Swindell said:

 

All that way and you're missing out Lowestoft ???? :shrug:

I didn't even think of that....! Risk of spending a fortune in their warehouse (assuming you an I are thinking of the same thing) :lol:

Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, Dave Swindell said:

With 30,000 sq ft, it's probably the only model shop where you can guarantee social distancing!

Now that's good logic!

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, DaveJL said:

Let's just hope some survive. I won't even be looking at dates until we see how the roadmap out of lockdown pans out. I already had leave booked for the last week in September for an International trip that I'll likely be cancelling.

 

Please let me know of your other sites mate, I'd like to take in as much as possible.

I didn't even think of that....! Risk of spending a fortune in their warehouse (assuming you an I are thinking of the same thing) :lol:

For the time being Hannants is closed to the public, hopefully be different when you make your Trek :)

 

Being up there it'd be rude not to have a visit to Flixton near Bungay/Beccles, not an airfield but a good afternoons browsing :)https://www.aviationmuseum.net/

Edited by Toe
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

There are many more but opening is restricted, and you can only pack so much into a weekend.

Horham http://95thbg-horham.com/wordpress/

Debach https://493bgdebach.co.uk/

Old Buckenham http://www.oldbuck.com/en/museum/

Norwich city air museum (Horsham St Faith) http://www.cnam.org.uk/
Bentwaters http://www.bcwm.org.uk/

Sculthorpe https://www.rafsculthorpeheritagecentre.org/

Link to post
Share on other sites
35 minutes ago, Toe said:

For the time being Hannants is closed to the public, hopefully be different when you make your Trek :)

 

Being up there it'd be rude not to have a visit to Flixton near Bungay/Beccles, not an airfield but a good afternoons browsing :)https://www.aviationmuseum.net/

Hopefully mate! Like I say, tentatively looking at the end of September but all will be in line with guidance etc.

19 minutes ago, bentwaters81tfw said:

There are many more but opening is restricted, and you can only pack so much into a weekend.

Horham http://95thbg-horham.com/wordpress/

Debach https://493bgdebach.co.uk/

Old Buckenham http://www.oldbuck.com/en/museum/

Norwich city air museum (Horsham St Faith) http://www.cnam.org.uk/
Bentwaters http://www.bcwm.org.uk/

Sculthorpe https://www.rafsculthorpeheritagecentre.org/

 

Thanks mate, will have a look at them and see if they fit in. Would likely be doing the entire trip over 7 days. A rough idea for the third leg:

 

49891378218_6af559347d_b.jpg

 

Other than those, are there any other Bomber Command sites in Lincolnshire that would be worth a visit?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Please dont forget that a lot of former airfields are now private property in one form or another. The one where volunteer Bentwaters is private property and unless you have buisness there, or are vitising the museum when it open then security will move you on.

 

Unfortuatly there have been a lot of problems with the soe called "urban expolorers"

 

Julien

Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, DaveJL said:

Other than those, are there any other Bomber Command sites in Lincolnshire that would be worth a visit?

Hello Dave, seeing your route you should be visiting East Kirby and their Lancaster !
It is a very good museum with some very nice exhibitions and it is near Coningsby....certainly worth a visit!
They even have some days in the week that you can see the Lancaster active🤫

Neen there three times now and I love the athmosphere...

https://www.lincsaviation.co.uk ( closed at the moment due to the COV19)

 

cheers, Jan

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...