Footprints Across Scotland
Why not make a few of your own!
1st March 2009
High up on the shores of Loch Etchachan
The early morning drizzle was slowing and patches of blue started to brighten the day. A number of fellow walkers were leaving the Linn of Dee car park as I removed my bike from its rack on top of the car. Rays of light were filtering through as I wove my way through the trees and onto the main track that heads up Glen Lui. Passing a number of small group's of hikers on the way I was soon at Derry lodge and after crossing the burn left the bike behind a fallen tree. The sun was winning its battle with the clouds and cast patches of light over the steep hillsides that surround this ancient woodland.
Derry Cairngorm from the pine wood
The pines soon thinned and the views opened up across the grassy plains towards the Torr topped Beinn Mheadhoin in the distance. Leaving the trees behind I crossed Derry burn to find a good path easing my way up the glen allowing time to enjoy the scenery. A couple of small deer headed for higher ground as I neared a fenced plantation of young pine.
Shortly after the main path starts rising toward a bealach at the head of Lairig an Laoigh before continuing on to the fords of Avon. A left branch leads to a footbridge that fords the Derry burn and snakes its way toward the cliffs of Stob Coire Etchachan.
Stob Coire Etchachan
After a short while the Choire Etchachan shelter came into view looking small as it sits below the impressive headwall of Creagan a' Choire Etchachan. A sleeping bag inside gave testimony to the fact that the hut, erected in memory of Arthur Gilbertson Hutchison in 1954, is still frequently in use as an overnight stopover.
Hutchison memorial hut below Creagan a' Choire Etchachan
The well trodden path now rises up alongside the burn formed by the outflow of Loch Etachan, its water gushing noisily down to eventually join forces with the Derry burn. A sprinkling of hail signaled a downturn in the weather and was followed by heavier snowfall as gained more height. Stopping to top up my water bottle I took the oportunity to put on my waterproofs, these would also provide some protection from the strong wind that was now blowing. As I began to top a final rise the rocky buttresses of Carn Etchachan came into view, these cliffs forming an impressive backdrop to Loch Etchachan which lay hidden below a covering of snow and ice.
The wind was sweeping numerous weather systems down the slopes of Ben Macdui and across the Loch but shafts of sunlight occassionaly broke through and together with breaks in the snow showers brought a clearer view to the other side of the Loch. I lingered on the edge of the water for a while trying to capture the scene before retreating behind a large boulder to shelter and eat lunch.
Eventually leaving the loch shore I now climbed over rocky slopes on to the top of Creagan a' Choire Etchachan. Snowy hillsides all around occasionally dazzled under bright sunshine only to be cast back in the grey shadow as more snow blew in.
Creagan a' Choire Etchachan
Shielding my face from the snow flurries I could make out the huge face of Coire Sputan Dearg towering up on my right.
Coire Sputan Dearg
The slopes of Derry Cairngorm form one huge boulder field and I tried to avoid stepping on any loose rocks as I picked my way upward.
Creagan a' Choire Etchachan and Beinn Mheadhoin
I didn't linger on the top for too long and continued my progression southward using some of the more snow bound sections to ease my way down. Dark clouds over the high summits could be seen dropping their load as they passed by but larger patches of clear sky now started to appear. The greens of the tree's in the Glen's of Derry and Lui stood out vividly in the now brighter light.
Down Glen Lui to the Linn Of Dee
Working through the trees as I neared Derry lodge I noticed I dropped a glove and had to retrace my steps 200m up the hill to retrieve it. After recovering my bike it was now a leisurly cycle back to the Linn of Dee. As I cycled down the glen I passed a number of people on their walk out and was suprised just how many faces I recoginsied from my inward journey, everyone it seemed was finishing their day out at roughley the same time.
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