Footprints Across Scotland
Why not make a few of your own!
9th March 2008
A walk past the "Green Loch" and up onto Derry Cairngorm
Driving down the north Dee side road early on Sunday there were some fantastic views of Lochnagar as I approached Ballater. The distant snow covered cliffs showed up silvery white against the blue morning sky in deep contrast to the green and brown fields in the foreground. I almost turned off and headed towards Loch Muick but in the end decided to keep to my original plan. The sunny start provided plenty of motivation for the walking ahead, but as ever though the fickle Scottish weather was about to change. Grey clouds were rolling in over the hills at Braemar and by the time I reached the car park at Linn of Dee waterproofs were to be the order of the day. Fortunately the rain was never heavy and stopped by the time I dismounted from my bike at Derry lodge. Paths lead up either side of the Derry burn, I took the one to the west which winds through the ancient Caledonian pine woods. Leaving the trees I crossed a bridge to join the other path heading further up Glen Derry.
Leaving the Pine woods
The Glen opened out into some grassy moorland with some immature pine plantations fenced in to keep the marauding deer out.
The path winds up the Glen passing through the last plantation; it was at this point that I left the path heading west. Two streams could be seen flowing down the hillside, the right hand one would lead me up to Lochan Uaine, the "green Loch". There are four lochan's of this name in the Cairngorms, this is the smallest. Keeping out of the heather and on the grassy bits as much as possible I was soon up into Coire Lochan Uaine. The green loch was looking very white with its iced top and dusting of snow.
I believe there is a route up beside the waterfall at the head of the loch but this looked a serious proposition and one best left to outside of the winter months. I headed off on a south west course up and across the hillside to gain the ridge above Coire Lochan Uaine. The ground steepened as I progressed but the snow being mostly firm allowed me to kick in steps fairly easily. On the ridge I headed west over some hard packed icy snow to the top of Derry Cairngorm.
Snow topped boulders
I had been well sheltered from the wind up 'till now but on reaching the top I was greeted with a mixture of strong wind and hail so I retreat back down the hillside a bit to find a lunch spot. After donning all my extra layers I wedged myself in between some rocks to enjoy a hot drink and a sandwich. I contemplated heading out further to visit Loch Etachachan but decided instead to head down the southern slopes of Derry Cairngorm.
Beinn Mheadhoin with Bynack More illuminated in the background
Apart from the odd hail shower it was a pleasant walk down the broad ridge with just one or two icy sections and boulder fields to negotiate. There were some great views over toward the western Cairngorms and the towering south face of Ben Macdui.
Coire Sputan Dearg below Ben Macdui
It wasn't too long before I was down out of the snow line and enjoying the view down Glen Lui. After dropping into the woods I rescued my bike from behind some trees and enjoyed another cup of tea before cycling the 5km back to the car park.
Down Glen Lui to the Linn Of Dee
I caught a few stag's enjoying the grass outside the youth hostel as I headed back down to Braemar from the Linn of Dee. They didn't seem too concerned that I was there sitting in the car but I think they would have soon disappeared if I had gotten out.
Stag's enjoying lunch
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