Cairngorms August 11 flood round-up

Just spent the weekend up at Bob Scott’s Bothy and touring the area to see what damage has been done by Monday’s flood (August 11th).

Started off on Saturday morning fording the Derry Burn, where the bridge has been swept aside, and going through Glen Luibeg and over to Corrour Bothy in Glen Dee (where I had to burn and remove an astonishing amount of rubbish – a tale for another day). The bridge at Luibeg is fine, but the ford, which I normally use, isn’t possible with dry feet any more because a crucial boulder has been moved.

(6.9.14 update: There is a large tree across the Derry Burn about 200 metres up from the broken bridge. Care is required, but this can be used as an alternative to wading the burn.)

Then I went up over MacDui, battling fierce winds which had me down on my hands and knees several times, hanging on to boulders, and down past Loch Etchachan into Coire Etchachan and down Glen Derry, where most of the damage seemed to be concentrated.

On Sunday I went through Clais Fhearnaig into Glen Quoich and had a look up as far as the ford, which has totally changed its configuration and again was not possible dry-shod. A shallower alternative looked possible a few yards upstream but as this involved wading through newly flooded heather I’m not sure it would be any dryer. I did intend walking down to see where a change in the course of the River Quoich had cut through the landrover track but I think it must be down near the bottom of the glen and, quite frankly, I was exhausted after my fight with the wind on Saturday and just didn’t have the energy.

So without any further ado, here’s the photos…

The tide mark high up the river bank is clearly visible in this shot taken just above the Black Bridge. The bridge is intact, but the tide marks and debris there show it was very close to being overwhelmed.

The tide mark high up the river bank is clearly visible in this shot taken just above the Black Bridge. The bridge is intact, but the tide marks and debris there show it was very close to being overwhelmed.

Flood-damaged culvert in Glen Lui, Cairngorms

The stream coming out of Clais Fhearnaig totally overwhelmed the bridge over the twin concrete culverts. Much of the road was washed away and you can see from the vegetation and gravel how large the flow was.

Some of the flood debris on the flats around Bob Scott's Bothy. The bothy was completely surrounded by fast flowing water but was undamaged. A sandbank upstream from the bothy has now disappeared, but there is a new gravel bank where we normally get water beside the bothy.

Some of the flood debris on the flats around Bob Scott’s Bothy. The bothy was completely surrounded by fast flowing water but was undamaged. A sandbank upstream from the bothy has now disappeared, but there is a new gravel bank where we normally get water beside the bothy.

The landrover track leading to the ford beside Derry Lodge to the Luibeg Cottage side of the river has been washed out.

The landrover track leading to the ford beside Derry Lodge to the Luibeg Cottage side of the river has been washed out.

The Derry Burn footbridge. The bank at the other side was washed away and the bridge swung round onto the east bank. The burn is fordable at several points but this could be difficult or even impossible in times of spate

The Derry Burn footbridge. The bank at the other side was washed away and the bridge swung round onto the east bank. The burn is fordable at several points but this could be difficult or even impossible in times of spate

The path on the west bank of the Derry Burn, downstream from the bridge, showing the extent to which the bank has been washed away

The path on the west bank of the Derry Burn, downstream from the bridge, showing the extent to which the bank has been washed away

This tidemark across the road beside the Mountain Rescue Post shows the extent of the flooding. The river runs just this side of the two further away trees but, at its height, it was lapping at the doors of the hut.

This tidemark across the road beside the Mountain Rescue Post shows the extent of the flooding. The river runs just this side of the two further away trees but, at its height, it was lapping at the doors of the hut.

Stepping stones across the Luibeg Burn have been swept away. You can still get two thirds of the way across dry-shod, but it's one boulder short of a complete crossing

Stepping stones across the Luibeg Burn have been swept away. You can still get two thirds of the way across dry-shod, but it’s one boulder short of a complete crossing. The bridge half a km upstream is intact.

A curiously deep but narrow flood channel in a footpath up on the Ben MacDui plateau

A curiously deep but narrow flood channel in a footpath up on the Ben MacDui plateau

The large, tightly jammed boulders which formed the stepping stones across the Glas Allt Mhor in Glen Derry have been washed away. Crossing is still possible just a yard or tow downstream.

The large, tightly jammed boulders which formed the stepping stones across the Glas Allt Mhor in Glen Derry have been washed away. Crossing is still possible just a yard or two downstream.

The Glen Derry footpath about half a kilometre north of the Derry Dam footbridge, buried deeply under gravel washout from a normally unremarkable burn. A huge quantity of gravel and mud has been washed down across the hillside over about 10 or 15 metres of track.

The Glen Derry footpath about half a kilometre north of the Derry Dam footbridge, buried deeply under gravel washout from a normally unremarkable burn. A huge quantity of gravel and mud has been washed down across the hillside over about 10 or 15 metres of track.

The extent of the washout from the burn, looking uphill from the buried track

The extent of the washout from the burn, looking uphill from the buried track

The east pier of the Derry Dam footbridge, showing the extent to which it is now undercut. I understand the estate has had an engineer examine this and that it is considered safe for the present.

The east pier of the Derry Dam footbridge, showing the extent to which it is now undercut. I understand the estate has had an engineer examine this and that it is considered safe for the present.

Another view of the east pier.

Another view of the east pier.

And a face on view from the west bank

And a face on view from the west bank

This burn used to flow gently across the path, with a few stepping stones. Now the water has not only cut a channel through the path but shattered about a foot of bedrock

This burn used to flow gently across the path, with a few stepping stones. Now the water has not only cut a channel through the path but shattered about a foot of bedrock

Another cut-out through the Derry path, this one barely a kilometre north of the Lodge

Another cut-out through the Derry path, this one barely a kilometre north of the Lodge

And in case you were wondering how deep that had cut - here's my walking pole

And in case you were wondering how deep that had cut – here’s my walking pole

Even small paths have been affected. Much of the path from Clais Fhearnaig down to Glen Quoich has been washed out

Even small paths have been affected. Much of the path from Clais Fhearnaig down to Glen Quoich has been washed out

The jeep track in Glen Quoich, where the burn out of Clais Fhearnaig has washed out the road.

The jeep track in Glen Quoich, where the burn out of Clais Fhearnaig has washed out the road.

The ford across the Allt Dubh Gleann in Glen Quoich, resculpted by the flood.

The ford across the Allt Dubh Gleann in Glen Quoich, resculpted by the flood.

For comparison, this photo was taken at the same ford a couple of years ago.

For comparison, this photo was taken at the same ford a couple of years ago. (Note the snazzy pink wellies!)

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14 Responses to Cairngorms August 11 flood round-up

  1. Dave says:

    My how you have changed Neil from your ‘selfie’ at the bottom!
    Can I recruit you as one of my Incident Officers? I will need reports quicker than 7 days though!
    Seriously an excellent article as always. It shows your commitment in regards to time and treasure.
    Dave

  2. Very much appreciate this detailed round-up. I was up Glen Ey on Saturday; the wind (and rain) was vicious there too.

  3. Peter Aikman says:

    Great stuff, Neil. What struck me was the comparative lack of human damage. It must have been the timing of the storm. Unless anyone was stuck in Corrour, then folk were off the hills when the rivers rose. Imagine recreating the “Escape from the Fords of Avon” with all that going on.

    • Hi Peter, I believe there was a group at Corrour on Monday, and three folk were rescued from Bob Scott’s but you’re right, there was potential for a lot worse human damage. Given the erosion and landslip all down Glen Derry I don’t think we’d have got out at all in a recreated ‘Escape from Fords of Avon’ and would have counted ourselves lucky even to get to the Hutchie.

  4. I wonder if the mess left in Corrour is ‘cos the folks there left in a hurry?

    Great info on the damage – particularly like your illustrations where you’ve used things like walking poles for scale. Amazing to say all that happened in mid-summer isn’t it? Makes you wonder what sort of winter we’re all in for?! 😮
    Carol.

    • No. I have photos of the rubbish left at Corrour. From the clothes and the food abandoned these weren’t people with the intelligence to leave in a hurry. In any case, the rain was through the night and I don’t think anyone expected it to be such a major flood. The rubbish left was typical of inexperienced people wearing the wrong clothes and taking far too much in their rucksacks.

      • I know the type then… when I stayed at Corrour once there were a couple of ‘bothy virgins’ – I went off walking for the day and, when I got back, they’d left their rubbish, neatly tied, in a white plastic binbag by my gear in the bothy! We managed to burn some of it and the other guys took a lot out with them but I didn’t have any spare room in my pack at all (I’m not a great packer!)

      • Yeah, they’re very common at Corrour. We’re trying to encourage more people to do as your party did though – to burn or carry out anything they find – saves it lying and attracting more rubbish until one of the regular crew get out there

  5. Alex Smith says:

    Hi! Thanks for blog, really helpful. We’re planning on doing the Lairig Ghru walk on the 25th/26th September, any ideas if the Derry footbridge area will be ok to cross without the bridge? Any other areas around there to be concerned about.

    Thanks again

    • Hi Alex, as long as the Derry isn’t in spate you should be able to wade across, with the best option maybe being about 50 yards downstream where it is wider and shallower. Another option is about 200 metres upstream where a large tree has fallen across the river. I crossed it at the weekend: the trunk is broad enough to walk without too much bother, but the root disc is a pain to clamber over and the branches make life a bit awkward at the other side. Not the best of bridges, unless anyone has set to with a saw/axe, but it does allow you to cross dry-shod.
      Don’t know of any major problems elsewhere. The ford at Luibeg doesn’t seem very practical at the moment, so you’ll be easier going up to the bridge, but that’s no great hardship.
      Hope you enjoy your trip.

      • Alex Smith says:

        That’s great, thanks so much. Fingers crossed the weather remains calm till the end of the month.

  6. Pingback: New bridge imminent at Derry Burn | cairngormwanderer

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