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Backwards, Boggy and a Broken Bridge

Backwards, Boggy and a Broken Bridge

Postby nadine25x » Thu Apr 30, 2020 6:56 pm

Date walked: 15/06/2019

Time taken: 11 hours

Distance: 30.3 km

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Started this report not long after the hike but apparently I've been too busy to finish it for the best part of a year, but have enjoyed the nostalgic mountain day during lockdown....

Leaving Aberdeen clothed in sea haar, it was a much welcomed break from the weeks of rain at the Linn of Dee on Saturday morning. Beginning the walk along the path to Glen Lui we were overtaken by multiple bikers, we seemed to be the only people mad enough to walk in to Derry lodge.

Walk in

At Derry Lodge we noted the bridge closure at Derry Dam but on consulting the map it didn't seem to be an issue for our outward route (we were soon to learn otherwise). After crossing the bridge we headed straight on across a land rover track....not straight ahead on the clear path (which to be fair was more of a slight left). The next while was spent hopping across and around a multitude of boggy puddles, trying desperately not to lose our boots.

Eventually we emerged near said closed bridge...

Consulting the map, it appeared we had gone totally straight on rather than taking the path ever so slightly to the left from the bridge at Derry Lodge. Not too big a problem however, we would do the route in reverse. The closed bridge however, was a problem. A thorough assessment of the area revealed no suitable alternatives to cross the river so we guiltily made it across one by one.

Map reading

We decided to stop for lunch dangling our legs off the very useful 'plank' bridge, and I couldn't resist mucking around to take some photos..

Dangling over the river

Lunch bridge

Journeying onwards, it often felt like we were the only ones in this vast wilderness. As much as I enjoy this feeling, other beings and the Hutchison Memorial Hut were a welcome site.

First sighting of Hutchison Memorial Hut (middle right)

I usually love to investigate any bothies I find en route, with a view to one day organizing myself enough for an overnight stay. However we decided to leave the days inhabitants in peace and pushed on up the hill towards the loch. We were struggling slightly at this point, counting steps between pauses in order to make progress.

Loch Etchachan was more than worth the slog. We wandered down to the edge and stopped for a snack, discussing our regret at not having purchased an inflatable kayak (not sure we'd have wanted to carry it up there anyhow...) The views across to Cairngorm were spectacular, with the glittering dark loch contrasting against the bright blue of the sky.


Refreshed, it was onwards to Beinn Mheadhoin. This turned out to be a battle up a steep slope of scree.

Eventually, the landscape plateaued - to our delight. Pausing at the first cairn on top of Beinn Mheadhoin was well worth the views down to Loch Avon and across the Cairngorms towards the Aviemore side. It was here I realized this was the munro which I'd have ideally combined with investigating the shelter stone.

Loch avon

The barns look like strange form of meteorites, abandoned in this desolate place. However, they also looked extremely fun to scramble up and take in the views. I can attest that clambering up was much easier than the nervous scramble down - I was very glad not to be soloing.


Top of the Barns

More descent followed as we retraced our steps down to the loch. We precariously skated our way down the scree from Beinn Mheadhoin, with pauses to weigh up the safest next steps rewarded with brilliant views back down.

Loch from above

Another slight navigation error followed where we almost began an ascent of Ben Macdui :shock: (so enchanted with the views concentration had lapsed). Picking out Derry Cairngorm in the distance we weaved through a boulder field back over to the path. Boulder fields are never the easiest, but the route to the cairn was fairly direct. The views from the summit of Derry Cairngorm were spectacular, over to Ben Macdui and much further afield on such a clear day.

Kyle at summit

An easy amble back over the plateau in the evening sun looking down to the glen on our left felt like a wonderful end to our day. We began discussing the food stop for the way home, thinking we'd be back in the car soon. We were soon descending down through the forest to Derry lodge. Here we saw the first other people for a long time, setting up their tents and bbqs for the night.

Looking down over the glen

False optimism was clearly our mistake - the walk back along the track from Derry lodge was unrelenting. Our leg muscles had had more than enough for one day and our eyes turned green with jealousy with every biker who sped past. Kyle decided to stop and sit down every ten minutes or so, I performed various stretches in fear if I sat down I'd be stuck there or unable to drive home.

With the carpark finally in sight I handed the car keys to Kyle and ran off to for a pee (the track having a distinct lack of decent bushes/trees!). Removing our boots from our tired feet we started the journey to Balmoral where we hoped to find somewhere to eat. Some signal dependent googling revealed nowhere to be open at this late hour, so the Chinese in Ballater became our next aim. Chilli chicken eaten with your fingers has never tasted so good!

While Kyle complained of his aching legs, I couldn't understand why my face hurt so much (the next day I was to discover it was sunburned). Rest assured, we'll be bringing suncream and bikes for any further munros from Derry lodge!
Posts: 2
Munros:52   Corbetts:9
Sub 2000:26   Hewitts:2
Wainwrights:3   Islands:5
Joined: Aug 25, 2015

Re: Backwards, Boggy and a Broken Bridge

Postby Sunset tripper » Sun May 24, 2020 8:45 pm

Great pics and trip report. Great hills also. I've only been up that two from Aviemore and via the shelterstone which is well worth a visit as well as Loch Avon. Nearing the barns at the summit it was a scorching hot day and it felt and looked like the american deserts. :shock:
The Derry Lodge road is good for the bike and saving some time.
All the best :D
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Sunset tripper
Posts: 2566
Joined: Nov 3, 2013
Location: Inverness

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