I am in Braemar for a few weeks with work right now, and as I have a fair bit of time on my hands I took the chance to get out to a Bothy before the forecast bad weather got here.
Bike all packed up I was away by about 13.00, and with just ~15Km to the bothy I was in no rush. The ride in from the village is a mixture of road/landrover track, starting with about 10Km out to the Linn of Dee car park, nice quiet road with a great overview of the Gorge at the far end, from the bridge. As I hadn’t done it before I went via the Victoria bridge.
Once through the car park it is all track through the woods and into the valley.
The track goes over a small bridge, swings left and is just 3 Km to Derry lodge. The weather was a pretty windy and shortly after setting out the rain started, fortunately it wasn’t too cold, but it was obvious that the poor weather that was forecast was coming. I was keen to get to he bothy and get a fire going by now.
Though the riding from Braemar isn’t particularly technical, or stunning, the scenery certainly is, but that wasn’t the point here, you see what makes Derry Lodge and this bothy great, is that it makes a great overnight hub for several circular tours, either on foot or bike(ski too for that matter!). From here you have access to Glen Derry; the Lairig Ghru and Glen Luibeg, it also sits on the track that can be linked through to Glen Builig and Tomintoul, via the Invercauld estate. A short ride back to the Linn of Dee gives access to Glenfeshie and Glen Tilt, thus several circular tours around the Cairngorms.
The night was pretty windy, the bothy physically shook on several occasions, pretty impressive given that it sits in a dip, among the trees!!
I got a fire going, tea on and some food cooked in pretty short order, only thing missing was a dram while sat staring into the fire…senior moment saw me leave the hip flask on the table, bugger. Mid week, mid November, I figured I would have the place to myself, but a couple turned up around 6.30-7.00pm having walked in from the car park in the dark. They were pretty well loaded up too, 3 or 4 carrier bags of food, about 10kg of coal and a large(65ltr?) rucsac each. Fair play….. Their plan was to use the bothy as a base for a couple of days walking. We chatted for a while but by about 9.00 I was all in and crawled into my bag, slept pretty well given the noise, though it has to be said I find the sound of wind and rain hammering against the roof/tent etc quite soporific, assuming I am dry and comfortable.
We were all up early, the couple were heading up Ben Macdui, me, I was going to try to knit together the tracks between here and the Invercauld estate, I know the tracks out to Glen Builg from there, I just needed to work out the thru route.
Start of the day was a short retrace back to the bridge 3Km away. From there I followed a track that contoured around Creag Bhaig to Claybokie, then picking up the road to Linn of Quoich.
Having got to the far end of the road the bridge over Quoich water was closed, not sure if it was flood damaged or just unsafe with age but the whole thing was gone, fenced off and was being worked on. There was a diversion in place, which took bikes and walkers up the hill path and back down into The Quoich, in retrospect I am glad it was there, I wouldn’t have ridden up into the punchbowl, but having had to ride down it it was a nice addition to the route.
Local story goes that the Earl of Mar filled the hole with brandy to entertain guests at a ball, organised as a pretext for supporters to gather and plan for the uprising in 1715, hence the name.
A right turn at the bridge took me down to Allanaquoich cottage, and along the track, following the north bank of the Dee to the Invercauld estate. Great single and double track through some lovely scenery, simply following the signs for “Brig ‘o Dee took me right past the turn off I remembered from my through trip back in July. A short spin through the estate brings me out to the road, and the Invercauld bridge itself
A short road ride gets me back to Braemar for tea and medals, a hot shower and the luxury of a cold beer from the fridge. Given the amount of water falling in places like Dumfries I got off pretty lightly here. That said, a quick trip into the village saw the river up significantly from the level when I left a couple of days ago, river crossing could have been fun.