We set off very early Sunday morning and drove from Dundee to Braemar which took just under the 2 hours. Off with the bike, boots on, rucksack packed, GPS switched on and tracking and off we went. Well not too far.
Unbelievably Gerry’s pedal fell off. This was now becoming a bit of a habit as this also happened last time we took the bikes out when we did Ben Alder last month. With having a time limit as we had to be back for the much better half going out, we were swimming against the current.
The solution: (for Gerry) a combination of fast walks, a bit of jogging and a few”backies” on the bike that still worked. The backies worked a bit but Gerry pushing me off the bike when he was on back ( think Gerry suffers a heightened sense of fear) meant this soon came to an end.. But them’s the break.
We decided that I would take both rucksacks and cycle and Gerry would try and jog or walk fast. This worked quite well and it took 40 minutes to reach Derry Lodge from the carpark.
From Derry Lodge it only took just over an hour to reach the Hutchison Memorial bothy.
Surprisingly to us there where people camping just up from the hut and not actually sleeping in it. Cannot get my head around that one, the hut is well insulated with Kingspan and very sheltered from the cold and wind.
After a 20 minutes break, which was very well deserved ( I had set a quick pace form Derry Lodge and had forgotten about Gerry’s quick walk and jogging efforts from Linn of Dee to Derry Lodge).
We set off up the very good path towards Loch Etchachan and the mist was starting to come in. That together with snow from a few days ago that was still lying in parts made for difficult climb. Once at the top I was very much looking forward to the views of the loch but was to be disappointed as it was invisible due to the mist. We could barely see the path and the stepping stones across the mouth of Loch Etchachan to Beinn Mheadhoin.
I know there is a good path here somewhere but we could barely see 30 feet in front of us. This coupled with the lying snow did make the hike up difficult. We intermittently found the path which is well worn but also suffering from a lot of soil erosion which make walking a bit on the slippy side.
The climb is steep and eventually the plateau is reached. The summit is across boulder fields but there are elements of a path through. I was looking forward to the views across the Macdui as well as the “barns”. Needless to say though these are close by we had no chance of seeing them.
We did a spot of planking on a very small barn near the summit and then went back the same route and back down towards Loch Etchachan and the path to Ben MacDui.
On the way back the mist was starting to lift off Loch Etchachan and at last we were getting a glimpse of this impressive Loch.
The path to Ben MacDui is easy to follow and the other walkers’ prints in the snow helped a great deal. We were too successful walking along the western shoulder of Creagan a' Choire Etchachan. Needless to say we missed the fork in the path that takes you to Derry Cairngorm mainly due to the snow. Route one up Creagan a' Choire Etchachan and we reached the bealach and path towards our next goal.
The going was surprising good but the wind and chill factor made it a bit unpleasant and near the summit the mist just spoiled any potential views across the glens.
Must admit that we were glad to be coming off the summit and starting the final haul back to Linn of Dee. We could see the path ( often enough to get our bearings ) and we decided to bypass the summit of Carn Corm.
A big word of warning. Go for the summit if the mist is in, the snow is lying or there is ice on the path. The path has no leeway for errors and parts of it are pure rock with sheer drops. I would avoid in poor conditions and take the slightly longer and harder route to the summit.
After Creag Bad an t-Seabhaig the climb down is rapid and steep. I had thought that this would have been a good way to start but quickly changed my mind.
Once back at Derry Lodge, Gerry took the bike and the bags and I jogged back to the Linn of Dee car park. Must admit I was knackered when I got there and was only 20 minutes behind Gerry. Found him maundering about speaking to the tourists with the car half packed.
Also never made it back to Dundee in time but the kids were happy as it was a chipper tea. Superb and made the jog almost worthwhile.
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Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.