Stop Press: First picture of the new bridge going up comes from Bob Scott’s Bothy caretaker and my fellow Corrour MO, Neil Findlay – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=967223033296185&set=a.207699109248585.52869.100000254925069&type=1&theater
BRIDGE REPORTED COMPLETE BY MAR LODGE ESTATE ON APRIL 30th.
With spring making inroads and people’s summer plans getting firmed up, there’s been increasing interest these last few weeks in the state of the bridge at Derry Lodge.
The good news is that a the materials are now on-site for a temporary footbridge to be built on the site of the former footbridge lost in the August flood. Since then people have had to wade the Derry Burn at shallows above or below the bridge site, or use a tree about 2-300 metres upstream.
And an appeal has been launched to build a permanent replacement in a location which in the long term will probably do away with the boggy passage across the Derry Flats.
The temporary bridge was offered by ScotWays – the Scottish Rights of Way Society – which has also launched the appeal to raise funds for the permanent replacement, which will be in memory of Donald Bennet, a prominent member of the Scottish Mountaineering Club, founding member of the Mountaineering Council of Scotland and, at various times, Director, Chairman and Honorary President of ScotWays. He will be best known to most readers, though, as author of numerous books, including the SMC’s definitive Munro and Corbett guides. He died in 2013, aged 84.
ScotWays sees the rebuilt Derry Bridge as being a fitting tribute to their late president, sitting as it does on a right of way described in the Scottish Hill Tracks book which he edited.
I’m not sure exactly how the temporary bridge will look – the metal pylons which, presumably, will form the span, started life as a radio mast – but it is hoped it will only sit there for about a year, with funds raised for the permanent bridge in time to start work next spring.
The temporary bridge, according to the estate, should be in place by the end of April. The continuing erosion of the west bank at the current site means any crossing here will be vulnerable to further flooding damage, and the estate has already said it sees any long term solution involving a different site – although it has recognised the importance of the crossing, which is an essential link in the classic Lairig Ghru crossing of the Cairngorms, and voiced a commitment to seeking a permanent solution.
Possibilities include the site of the old bridge which stood in the ‘60s at about 039 933, providing part of the vehicle access to Luibeg Cottage. The river runs across shingle here, but the ground is flatter and any flood is likely to spread out rather than cut away at banks.
Another possibility is at about 041 932, where a bridge was built on more solid banks in the ‘80s, until it was destroyed in an accident with a mechanical digger. The second option, however, would require a second bridge back across the Lui above the junction with the Derry Burn. I’ve since heard through a conversation reported by Neil Findlay that this second option is what the estate is going for.
Both these sites would allow the Lairig Ghru-bound path to be diverted away from its present course across the middle of the Derry Flats. That will be good news for walkers, as the old, slightly longer, track followed closer to the river and was on harder standing; it’ll also be good news for the black grouse in the area, which have a preference for lekking on the flats near to the edge of the Derry Woods, and will be less often disturbed by ‘early bird’ walkers.
Last August’s flood did a lot of damage not just to the bridges (another bridge, over the Quoich, was also destroyed) but also to vehicle track and footpaths.
The estate has launched an appeal for funds to help address some of this work, with the most dramatic example of damage being where the Quoich changed its course and simply removed a whole section of the landy track up the glen.
There was also substantial damage to the footpath up the east side of Glen Derry, with streams cutting deeply through the track in several places and, in another, burying a 15-metre section under tons of sand and gravel.
The Mar Lodge storm damage appeal can be accessed here – https://www.nts.org.uk/Donation/Desktop/Appeal/Once/Mar-lodge-storm-damage-appeal-urgent-appeal/
Donations to the Donald Bennet Memorial Appeal can be made by sending a cheque payable to ScotWays, to the office at 24 Annandale Street, Edinburgh, EH7 4AN, marking the envelope Donald Bennet Memorial Fund. You can also pay by card via the website at http://www.scotways.com/