Footprints Across Scotland
Why not make a few of your own!
19th April 2009
A superb walk up Ben Macdui via Loch Etchachan
A fine bright start to the day gave high hopes of a fine walk ahead. Approaching Ballater some low lying mist added to the coolness of the morning, it was barely above freezing. We stopped at Johns house hoping to all get into one car but soon realised that fitting the third bike in the back with John would be too much of a squeeze. So John followed me and Karthik as we headed down to Braemar and the start of the walk at the Linn of Dee. We soon had the bikes removed from the rack on top of the car and began the 5km journey up to Derry Lodge. The skies were clear and blue again as we headed up the main track through Glen Lui. After crossing the river we left our bikes and continued on foot up through the splendid pine wood on the west of the Derry burn.
The pines started to thin after a while and we soon reached the more open countryside in upper Glen Derry. The high mountains that line the sides of the glen still retained a little of the winters snow.
Glen Derry Pines
Just as the main path started rising toward the bealach at the head of Lairig an Laoigh we branched left. A narrow footbridge allowed easy crossing of the Derry burn before we headed into Coire Etchachan. A gradual climb soon saw us make the Choire Etchachan shelter with its impressive viewpoint below the craggs of Creagan a' Choire Etchachan.
Hutchison memorial hut below Creagan a' Choire Etchachan
The well trodden path now took us more steeply up alongside the noisy burn carrying water from Loch Etchachan. A quick stop near the top of this section of path allowed us to refill our water bottles. Good quantities of snow still covered the burn in places but the fast flowing waters could be seen to be eating away at the undersides. A few more steps and we emeged to the glorious sight of Loch Etchachan with the rocky buttresses of Carn Etchachan forming an impressive back drop. Across the loch the slopes of Ben Macdui were still snow bound and the lochs waters were similarley covered.
We lingered here for a while taking in the views and soaking up the atmosphere.
Leaving the loch shore we then headed up the lower slopes of Creagan a' Choire Etchachan to pick up our onward path that contoured the hillside up to toward the Macdui Plateau. Nearing the cliff edge our gaze cut down the steep slopes into Coire Sputan Dearg and then across to Derry Cairngorm.
Loch Etchachan could still be seen when looking back down the line of cliffs that wall Coire Sputan Dearg.
Beinn Mheadhoin from above Coire Sputan Dearg
All that was now left to do was to cross the main Plateau to gain the summit. The snowy hillsides dazzled brightly as we walked causing a narrowing of the eyes to try and reduce the intake of light. It was now time to soak up the sunshine and views after a suitable boulder was found to sit down for lunch. Wandering over to toward the plateau edge a better vantage point was gained to view the hills that lie across the Lairig Ghru from Ben Macdui.
Cairn Toul and Braeriach across Lairig Ghru
Our return journey saw us back up above Coire Sputan Dearg before following the corrie rim to Sron Riach and then descend into Glen Luibeg. Following the Glen brought us back amongst the trees before crossing some grassy moor to reach Derry Lodge and our transport back to the car park.
Sron Riach from above Coire Sputan Dearg
Now all that was left was the cycle back down the glen to the Linn of Dee and the enyoment gained from removing boots after our 30km jaunt into the hills.
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