Wednesday 21 September 2011

Derry, down Derry (part 1)

Or, more accurately, up Glen Derry, up Beinn Mheadhoin, then up and down Derry Cairngorm.

Before I start on the brief description of last Saturday's jaunt though, I bring you exciting news, guaranteed to improve the mood of central Scotland-based hillwalkers travelling the high road to Braemar, and in need of a restorative breakfast en route. The Tesco in Blairgowrie opens at 8am, and it's got a wee heated snacks cabinet where you can buy sausage and bacon breakfast muffins. Oh yes! Actually, exciting's hardly the word. For any number of reasons. Still. 

Thus fortified, the onwards drive to Braemar was a doddle, and we were walking away from the Linn O' Dee car park by 9:30am. On reflection, the early part of the walk is already described here, so even if I had taken any photos of the three hour wander up the length of the Glen there would have beeen little point in going over old ground...however; if anyone has occasion to ask me in the future if it's a nice walk, bear in mind that if you catch it on the wrong day, when there's been a surfeit of  rain, or snowmelt, then it's an enormously watery undertaking. It could be that I've mostly followed that route in winter, and the, er, fast-flowing path has been frozen over but this was a long drawn out soggy excursion, and no mistake. Had I not been singing Glen Derry's praises to Andy, Jim & Colin throughout our car journey north, I wouldn't have felt quite such a trumpet when the inundated reality came to pass. We - I say we, I mean I - had elected to go up the path on the east side of Derry Burn. I've got no idea whether the west side would have been a better idea, but it couldn't have been a wetter one. Me & Jim adopted the barefoot crossing method for the first section of white water flowing across the path (at about the point where it meets the descent route from Beinn Bhreac), but that was a one-off. If we'd had to unshoe then reshoe every time there was a temporary burnlet to negotiate, we'd have been there yet. In fairness though, we only shuddered to a complete halt once. The map indicates that the Glas Allt Mhor crosses the path just before the Lairig an Laoigh/Coire Etchachan fork, and this did prove to be a bit of a poser.

Andy managed to totter precariously over some largeish rocks right at the path. I wandered upstream for about 5 minutes, and found nothing more promising, so headed back. I passed Jim, who, possessed of what must be a keen eye for well hidden river-crossing opportunities, was making the last big leap of a remarkable succession of boulder hops. He was good enough to talk me through his foot placements, so I made it over as well, much in the manner (with apologies to AP Herbert) of an elderly, overweight chamois.

Colin, in the meantime, must have made about 300m of upstream ascent before he found a spot. ;0)

Never mind - all across eventually. And largely dryshod. Onwards and upwards! Except...the dugs were still on the far side, point blank refusing to follow. Another twenty minutes it took us to sort that one out. Jorja eventually plucked up the courage to have a mad dash through a shallower bit upstream, but Maura (Andy's black lab) was made of more sensible stuff. Why should she put her paws into a deep, roaring, rocky torrent?  Why would she? Why would anyone?

Well, Andy would, to go and get his dug. Given that he had been the only one with the gumption just to cross the burn at the traditional point in the first place, and without getting wet, there was some slight irony in him having to wade through the bloody thing; put Maura on the lead and then wade back across towing her like a water skier. Irony, not humour. I'm stressing that.

Tomorrow - tors!


  1. What happened to the rubber sandals? I thought you must have won some sort of promotion deal with the suppliers.
    Sounds like a major undertaking though, Scott. I’ve walked down Glen Derry once and up it once, and on both occasions the weather has been blazing hot and the streams really low – with a sort of Mediterranean feel about the place (emphasis on “sort of”). I didn’t realise how much of an assault course it could become in wet conditions. I’ll bear that in mind.
    Looking forward to the next instalment.
    Alen McF

  2. Inevitably, the reason I didn't take them was my unshakeable confidence - based on previous experience - that I wouldn't need them.

    It's as well gambling isn't one of my vices.


  3. You should do what I do and just go out when it's dry, like a big pansy. :)

  4. Lol - there's been a recurring theme in that direction recently. MWIS is becoming an excuse provider rather than a weather forecaster.