2015 ended badly in Deeside, with major flooding affecting Braemar and Ballater and causing damage to roads and bridges.
However the mountain areas appear to have escaped relatively lightly.
An outline update of Storm Frank flood damage from Cairngorms.co.uk, updated on 21.1.16, can be viewed here.
On New Year’s Day, after Hogmanay at the Gelder Shiel, Walt Black and I walked in to Bob Scott’s Bothy, finding everything in good order, with the only effect of the flood being that the bothy had just experienced its quietest Hogmanay in history, with only Gus Fair and one other in attendance.
The Lui had risen with the flooding, but not nearly so high as in the damaging August 2014 flood, and didn’t come near the bothy. The temporary bridge at Derry Lodge also escaped unscathed, with the only visible damage being a few more inches of bank lost just downstream.
I spoke to a number of people on Friday and Saturday, and learned that the Hutchison Hut is okay, as is the small footbridge just below it. I didn’t hear anything specific about the metal bridge at Derry Dam but, given the relatively modest flooding in the area, I have no reason to suspect it will be damaged.
A group who came down from Carn a Mhaim reported that the bridge over the Luibeg is also undamaged.
Just had confirmation from German visitor Florian Finke that the Derry Dam bridge is indeed in one piece. Florian has also sent these photos of the Derry Lodge footbridge and of Bob Scott’s Bothy, both taken on 30th December when the flood was at its height. Looks like it was a close call for both.
One bridge which is affected though is the road bridge over the bottom of the Quoich. Only saw this from across the other side of the glen, but it appears that the river has cut a new channel to the east of the bridge, rendering it uncrossable.
You can see a close-up of the Quoich bridge here, showing how the river seems to have almost completely bypassed it.
There’s an overview of the situation on Mar Lodge Estate in the NTS blog, with pictures, including a very much overfilled Linn o’ Dee.
There was more damage up by the Gelder Shiel, on Lochnagar. The rain must have been torrential, for even at the height of the bothy the burn rose enough to completely overrun the bridge just above the bothy and Queen’s cottage. The bridge still stands on its stone gabions, but the bank at either end has been gouged out, necessitating a clamber to get onto the bridge. The water was flowing on both sides of the Queen’s cottage (though neither it nor the bothy appear to have been inundated) and caused extensive and substantial damage to the landy track, gouging out ruts and holes over two feet deep.
I’ll update this if any more news comes in, but remember, while tracks through the hills may still be passable, check before you leave home to make sure you can get access to the hills at all. At time of writing the A93 from Aberdeen to Braemar is blocked near Crathie where a long stretch of road has been completely swept away, and at Invercauld Bridge, just east of Braemar, where the bridge is shut because of damage. Check roads here .
From the Balmoral Castle & Estate Facebook page:
“Please be aware. The footbridges at the west end of Loch Muick have been washed away and the footbridge across the River South Esk just above Moulzie has also gone”
A diversion is now in place for people walking up from the Glen Doll car park to Bachnagairn/Loch Esk or Broad Cairn. This keeps people on the west side of the River South Esk (see map below). This diversion is necessary because the footbridge above Moulzie Cottage was destroyed during Storm Frank.Further route advice can be found at the Ranger Centre Glendoll, Tel: 01575 550233.
It appears Ruighe Aiteachain Bothy was at some points an island, surrounded by floodwater, although as far as I’ve been told there was no water inside the bothy.
There has been substantial movement in the course of the river in places though, so care should be taken if you’re visiting there.
Anne Butler, of the Munro Society, reports that the bridge over the Allt Fhearnasdail at NN827983, 500m south of Corranstilbeg in Glen Feshieis destroyed, with the bank washed away along with one end of the bridge.
Anne says this bridge is mainly used by mountain bikers and by locals for dog walking.
She said: “We walked up the west side of the River Feshie from Feshie Bridge on Sunday and the river has completely changed course and built/blocked channels in places. We are waiting for the river levels to go down before we attempt to walk to the bothy on the east side……….l’ll keep you posted.”
Anne further reported on 9th January –
Took a walk along the east side of the Feshie to Ruigh Aiteachain bothy today to assess the storm damage after Storm Frank (as promised Neil Reid)!
We left Achlean in -8c and the first obstacle was the Allt Fhearnagan which was double its usual width and now has two channels so was much easier to cross.
The east bank of the Feshie had been considerably eroded along the moraines with more path collapse looking inevitable.
The path was intact until we reach the Allt Garbhlach 😳. The steps to the river ended in a rather abrupt 5m drop to the floor below. The small bridge had gone and the river bed had quadrupled in size with a massive amount of rocks transported out of the corrie above. We walked about 100m upstream to the first group of granny pines where it was possible to cross the river. Opposite the south bank had been heavily eroded … We rejoined the path along the Feshie and all was good until the path disappeared again with 100m having fallen into the river. The detour through the woods involved a bog trot and climbing over a tree.
Considerable erosion from water run off on the track opposite Glenfeshie Lodge.
The Allt Coire Chacial was easier to cross being shallower and much wider.
I wouldn’t recommend trying to walk the route with a heavy pack in the dark 😱.
I’ve included one of Anne’s photos below, but it’s worth checking the full set.
The Bachnagairn foot bridge up the Moulzie track past the Moulzie Cottage has been completely washed away, so until further notice please be advised there is NO access to Bachnagairn. The Rangers are checking other foot bridges in the Glendoll area, so please seek advice from the Glendoll Ranger Centre on the current conditions of paths and bridges before heading out. Tel: 01575 550233
Had a query from regular reader Mountaincoward (I’m sure she’s not) asking about the bridge over the Baddoch Burn, which runs into the Clunie Water south of Braemar. Word from Braemar Mountain Rescue Team is that the Baddoch Bridge about half a mile up from the house – that would be 129 823 – has been washed away.
To finish on a lighter note, after some convoluted journeys we still managed to have a good New Year in the Gelder – including Ian Shand who had just spent a very productive day managing to save his home in Ballater from being flooded.