New bridge imminent at Derry Burn

Pylons for replacement footbridge at Derry Lodge, Cairngorms

Waiting to go into place – the pylons for the temporary Derry Burn footbridge

Stop Press: First picture of the new bridge going up comes from Bob Scott’s Bothy caretaker and my fellow Corrour MO, Neil Findlay –


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.

Materials for temporary footbridge across Derry Burn, Cairngorms, with explanatory note

Please don’t chop this wood up for your campfire! The Estate explains its plans

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.

Flood damage to track in Glen Quoich, Cairngorms

Mar Lodge Estate’s photo of the track up the west bank of the Quoich – totally removed by the flood

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 –

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

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16 Responses to New bridge imminent at Derry Burn

  1. alanfmackay says:

    Great news, Neil. I will, however, miss your improvised tree crossing.

    • I won’t. I’m getting stecky in my old age and climbing over that root disc always seemed very precarious – especially when I had a big weekend rucksack on. It would have been a chainsaw I needed to cut through that though; the wee pruning saw I had wasn’t quite up to that. 🙂

  2. Graham Gedge says:

    Thanks for the links Neil, got to be worth a few quid to avoid we feet. I bet there there are many others(like me) unaware of the appeals, I’ll give it a plug on Facebook but there is probably a wider constituency; have you or others plugged on the likes of UKC?

    • Don’t know if ScotWays have. Mar Lodge Estate seems very secretive about their own appeal and don’t seem to shout about it very loud other than their own website.

    • Steve Milne says:

      I agree, many of us have used that bridge and I’m sure would be willing to make some contribution to help. So thanks to Neil for posting the website. I’m not sure if anything’s been posted in Walkhighlands website but I’ll have a look and, if not, pass the details on.

  3. That’s excellent news! I was in the area the week before the flooding, camping at Corrour Bothy to do some Munros from there in glorious weather. Amazing how conditions can change in a week. I guess that’s Scotland!

  4. Ricky M says:

    Hi Neil
    Dropped a few bob off online for the repairs and let some chums know.
    I thought that the Cairngorm Club had offered to rebuild the bridge?
    The good news is there will be new fabulous erection at the Tarf Hotel soon!


    • Cheers Ricky, have heard from ScotWays that they’ve been getting a few donations on the back of the blogpost, so it seems to be doing the trick! I think I had heard that the CC were talking about the bridge, but I assume nothing came of it, or the estate simply opted to go with the ScotWays plan.
      You’ll need to send me photos of the Tarf ‘erection’: if it looks anything like a bridge I might put a post on. 🙂

      • Ricky M says:

        Aye Neil
        As you probably know the roof will need repaired at the Tarf so there will be a work Party announcement soon, Sinbad will update at Area Meeting as I cannot make it.The crossing we put in last year was AGAIN swept away in the Winter floods, will be sorted at the W/P.


  5. peterraikmanpeterraikman says:

    CC still talking

  6. I wondered what the framework reminded me of! 😉 It will be nice to get a bridge back there – I’m hoping to be back this summer to do some Munro Tops there – Glen Derry is one of my favourite Scottish Glens 🙂

  7. Gavin Stewart says:

    Am aiming to do this end May – with at least some of us who might struggle with a tree trunk. Any idea when ‘imminent’ might be for the temporary bridge?

    • Not sure, Gavin. But given the dangers of leaving the wooden materials next to a popular camping area, I’d imaging they’ll be looking to get it built pretty quickly. I understand that they’d started on some of the foundation on the east bank before this weekend.

  8. piper says:

    We managed to take a wee trip over the temporary bridge on Friday . Saved getting cauld feet .

  9. Hugh S. says:

    Seems a lot of conflicting info on the bridge. NTS Mar Lodge stated last year that bridge damage was insured . Cairngorm Club said it would contribute. Appeal by Mar Lodge is for footpath damage not bridges. Now Scotways seems to be funding the bridge and appealing for funds for this. Wots going on..where are our contributions going exactly ?

    Scotways if paying can name the new bridge as they wish but why in memory of someone from Edinburgh with no direct connection with the Gorms . Surely there must be some worthy of old connected with Scotways with a local connection ?

    • Aye, no wonder you’re confused. Trouble is there are still talks ongoing on various aspects of this, so some things can’t be confirmed.
      However, as far as I can gather, perhaps making rash assumpions, the situation is this: Bridges and paths destroyed by flooding, necessitating many thousands of pounds worth of repairs. Bridges are insured, but not paths. I think, but don’t know, that the insurance cokpany hand a cheque for the insured amount, which Mar Lodge is free to spend as it will – in this case going towards, but not by any means covering, the repairs to the paths. Because ScotWays want to contribute bridge in honour of Donald Bennet, who was associated with mountaineering all over Scotland.
      However, Estate want to move the crossing for a number of very sound reasons. The most likely option (and one I’ve heard unofficially is the favoured one) is two new bridges: one crossing the Lui Burn near Bob Scott’s Bothy, below the confluence with the Derry Burn; the other crossing back to the north bank of the Luibeg Burn, just above the confluence. One bridge, I assume, paid for by ScotWays appeal, the other, perhaps, by the Cairngorm Club.
      I have no privileged access to ny of these organisations and, like I say, no-one is coming out with the wholepicture here, but I reckon this scenario at least fits. Be glad to publish a corrected version of any of the relevant organisations want to enlighten the public.

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