Last year’s ‘temporary’ bridge over the Derry Burn, near Derry Lodge, has now become permanent. And a new footpath is to be developed going around – rather than across – the Derry Flats.
ScotWays, the Scottish Rights of Way and Access Society, donated the footbridge to Mar Lodge Estate last April, as a temporary replacement for the bridge destroyed by floods the previous August.
The original plan was for this bridge to stay in place until a permanent replacement had been built but after the New Year floods at the end of 2015 left the bridge still in place, and after other options had been considered, ScotWays and Mar Lodge Estate have agreed to make this the permanent bridge.
ScotWays is keen that the banking is reinforced and the abutments strengthened – although the bridge was untouched by the last floods, the western bank was further eroded – and has also said it will fund construction of a new footbridge across the upper Quoich, which is expected to be in place by the end of November.
Both bridges will feature memorial plaques to 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, though, as author of numerous books, including the SMC’s definitive Munro and Corbett guides. He died in 2013, aged 84.
Any funds left over after the two bridges are built will be used to divert the path that currently traverses the boggy Derry Flats, taking it down the west bank of the Derry Burn and then up the north bank of the Luibeg to join the existing path where it becomes a ‘made’ track at the corner of the plantation. This has been a long-held ambition for the estate, not only giving walkers a drier journey, but also taking them further away from the Black Grouse lecking ground on the Flats.
(Incidentally, if you’re curious about the strange triangular metal spans of the Derry Bridge, they started life as a radio mast. A great example of recycling.)