As of the morning of August 11th the footbridge across the Derry Burn beside Derry Lodge is no more. Torrential rain through the night and into the morning lifted the wooden bridge from its foundations and washed the remains a distance downstream. This was a small but important bridge in the network of walking routes through the Cairngorms. It was an essential link in the most commonly used version of the famous Lairig Ghru route and also gave access to all the Munros west of Derry Lodge. Access to them, and to the Lairig path, can still (as far as I know) be gained via Glen Dee, but this gives a substantially longer route on poorer paths for some of that way. Monday’s rain was both sudden and copious, raising river levels to spectacular levels. A video from Braemar Mountain Rescue Team showed the Linn of Dee almost bursting its banks – something I’ve never seen in almost 50 years of walking there – and the levees protecting Mar Lodge were within a foot of being overwhelmed. The Braemar MRT guys were also in action with the Fire and Rescue Service, rescuing three folk who had spent the night in Bob Scott’s Bothy and woke to find themselves surrounded by fast moving water. The rescued trio reported that water was starting to come up through the floorboards of the bothy by the time they left. It’s probably that the stone footings of the bothy will have prevented any structural damage, but at time of writing on Monday evening the exact state of the bothy is unknown. Damage elsewhere in the area includes the upper bridge across the River Quoich and, closer to Derry again, some damage – the extent of which isn’t yet clear – to the landrover track up to Derry Lodge. I spoke to Mar Lodge Estate Head Ranger Peter Holden earlier today and he said it was too early to properly assess all the damage or how it would be repaired. Checks still have to be made on several other bridges, including Luibeg Bridge at the foot of Carn a Mhaim, the metal bridge at the Derry Dam, and the wooden plank bridge on the way in to Coire Etchachan. Even gaining access to the Luibeg Bridge (without a walk the long way round) could be problematic until the river levels drop. I’ll be updating this blogpost as more information becomes available but the message for the moment is to ca’ canny with any plans involving the Cairngorms just now. River crossings may be dangerous or downright impossible, sometimes involving long and arduous alternative routes if you’re caught on the wrong side, so check the latest position before you go and keep your plans as flexible as possible. UPDATE: 13.08.14 Mar Lodge Estate has announced that the Landrover track up the west side of the River Quoich is affected by a change in the course of the river, which totally cuts off the track. It will probably be possible to detour up round the hill, but care should be taken. The exact location of the cut-off isn’t clear, but you can see a photo here.
UPDATE: 6.9.14 If crossing the Derry Burn is an essential part of your journey and wading doesn’t seem desirable or sensible, there is a large tree which has fallen across the burn about 200 yards up from the ex-bridge. You have to clamber over the root disc on the east side and fight through the branches on the west, not to mention taking care not to cowp on the main trunk, but a dryshod crossing is possible.