Linn of Quoich – Glen Derry – Glen Avon – Inchrory
Thursday, 25 April 2013
37.8 km/722 m/11:00 hrs
For my final TGO Challenge training walk, I had a route in Ardgour in mind: A round trip via Glen Gour, Glen Hurich and Glen Scaddle. But the weather in the west was poor, and so I changed my plans the evening before and tried to plan a route in the east instead.
My first idea was a circular walk from Tomintoul or Cock Bridge via Braemar, but this would have been too long for a two day trip. In the end I settled on a variation of this round, starting from near Braemar which would mean a longer drive from Inverness, but a much shorter walk.
I parked at the Linn of Quoich and walked up Glen Quoich, one of the Cairngorm glens I had never visited before.
The S top of Beinn a’ Bhuird from Glen Quoich.
After a little over five km I left the track and followed a path into the gorge Clais Fhearnaig with its series of lochans.
I descended into Glen Lui…
… and walked up the glen to Derry Lodge.
I am aware that Derry Lodge is a popular camp site, but I was still surprised when I counted 18 tents pitched by the footbridge across the Derry Burn!
Footbridge across the Derry Burn.
Fallen tree in Glen Derry, struck by lightning by the look of it.
Glen Derry – I can’t remember the last time I saw the path that dry!
One of the things I had been worried about was the crossing of the Glas Allt Mòr (the other ones being the snow level in the Lairig an Laoigh and the crossing of the Fords of Avon later on), and I was relieved to find that the water levels were low.
Glas Allt Mòr.
Stob Coire Etchachan.
“Cornices” on one of the tributaries of the Coire Etchachan Burn.
Coire Etchachan (zoomed), spot the – recently upgraded – Hutchison Hut 😉
The Lairig an Laoigh didn’t cause any problems either, there were only a few large snow patches to cross.
Looking back, I could see that in the meantime dark clouds had built up above Glen Derry.
But ahead of me, the sun was still shining.
More snow patches…
After a brief snow shower, the snow on top of Beinn Mheadhoin was steaming in the sun.
At the Fords of Avon, I came across the first real obstacle of the day: The snow cover on this side of the river was about 1.5 m thick, which made it impossible to get down to the stepping stones.
I noticed a group of young people outside the shelter, and when they saw me struggling, a girl came down to the water and shouted something I couldn’t hear because of the noisy river. I indicated that I was heading downstream, and she followed on the other river bank.
About 100 m downstream I found a gap in the snow cover where I could get down to the river, and managed to get across without getting my feet too wet. It turned out the girl and her friends were planning to spend the night on the N bank of the river and ford it the next morning, and apart from trying to help me she had also been keen on finding a possible crossing point for her own group.
Now all the difficulties were over, and I headed down Glen Avon on the narrow path above the river.
View back to Beinn Mheadhoin.
A few minutes later, Beinn Mheadhoin hidden by another snow shower.
After the confluence with the Allt Coire Ruairidh, the glen widens.
View back to Beinn a’ Chaorainn Bheag and Beinn a’ Chaorainn.
When I reached Faindouran Lodge Bothy, I had a look around the bothy itself and the Pony Shed opposite. The bothy’s chimney had collapsed in February, and walkers had been warned not to use the bothy because it was unsafe.
Main room (downstairs).
The collapsed gable wall.
Looking back to bothy and shed.
Past the bothy, the path becomes a track and it was easy walking along the river.
Just as well, because I was still about three hours from my planned camp site near Inchrory and I needed to speed up a bit if I wanted to get there before dark.
Tors on Ben Avon’s NE ridge.
Evening light over Ben Avon.
On my way, I passed this little shelter, but it didn’t seem an attractive overnight option…
Just before the ford across the Allt Loin Bheag, the track continues uphill and I decided to stay on the lower path along the river. That seemed a good idea until I lost the path and suddenly found myself on an extremely steep and loose slope a few metres above the water.
When I realised that I must have followed a sheep or deer track that didn’t lead anywhere, I had to turn around very carefully and reverse a few metres until I was able to climb up (on all fours) to safer ground – where I found the proper path again 😳
I had lost precious time because of this, and daylight was fading quickly when I finally reached the bridge near Inverloin. Half an hour later I was at the junction with Glen Builg and quickly found a good camp spot on the W bank of the Builg Burn.
While I was boiling water for my dinner in the light of my headtorch, I suddenly heard a vehicle approaching and saw its headlights pointing at my tent. I was wondering what anyone was doing out here at this time and switched my headtorch off without thinking (they had probably seen my tent already anyway and I didn’t really expect to be asked to move on, but then again you never know…). Thankfully the noise and lights disappeared into the distance and I had peace and quiet for the rest of the night – apart from the distinctive sound of a snipe.
Later at night I got out of the tent and was amazed about how bright it was outside, with the full moon shining on my tent.
Inchrory – Glen Builg – around Culardoch – Linn of Quoich
Friday, 26 April 2013
23.8 km/509 m/07:00 hrs
The morning started off nice and sunny in Glen Builg.
My camp site.
But soon after I had packed up and started walking down Glen Builg, the first (of many) hail showers started.
Looking back to Inchrory.
Sandy beach at the S end of Loch Builg.
After crossing the bridge over the River Gairn, I followed the track around the E flank of Culardoch.
The track eventually descends and crosses the Stable Burn.
On the way, I got a nice view of Lochnagar to the SE.
View back to Culardoch.
Another dark cloud approaching above Glen Feardar.
Five minutes later…
But it didn’t last long, and soon I was walking in the sunshine again.
Looking across the River Dee to Braemar.
During the last part of the walk, along the river back to the Linn of Quoich, it started raining heavily and I was soaked when I got back to my car. The weather had been very mixed during the two days, but it had been a good walk and I felt ready for the TGO Challenge.
And the best thing was – in only three weeks time I would be back in Braemar 😀