Whilst the Scottish Highlands can enjoy some great weather in Autumn, this year has seen some truly beautiful days making a trip into the mountains really rewarding. This time, Sarah came with me and we successfully tackled Derry Cairngorm (1155 metres) in the beautiful Mar Lodge Estate, starting at Linn of Dee near Braemar, despite the shorter days of November when it is fully dark before 18.00 hours.
Sarah knows these mountains really well, having completed the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award project camping and walking in these mountains as well as completing plant and wildlife transects on their flanks and in the adjacent Lairig Ghru.
The walk in to the foot of the hills is quite long and time could be saved by using bicycles as far as Derry Lodge – something I will do when next tackling Munros in this area of the Cairngorms. However, the trees and scenery along Glen Lui and Lui Water makes the walk very pleasant indeed and the remnants of the now regenerating Caledonian woodland contrasts with the montane plateau and granite top of Derry Cairngorm and the surrounding mountains. The area around Linn of Dee and Glen Lui, part of the National Trust for Scotland Mar Lodge Estate, is perfect for low-level treks and walks of various lengths as well as access to the Munros of the southern Cairngorms and the southern end of the Lairig Ghru. The famous River Dee, an important salmon river, rises in the Lairig Ghru.
In the very, very short time we had available to us at the summit – it was approaching mid -afternoon – Sarah grabbed some shots of me to record the visit.
The cairns at the summit which is composed of a range of rounded boulders. Shadows were lengthening, so it was time to ‘foxtrot oscar’ out of there before it gets dark…around 17.30 hours in November.
Just down from the summit, we paused for a snack before walking out back to Linn of Dee – note the lengthening shadows. Despite the apparently barren nature of the landscape, it teems with life. Sarah spots some interesting spiders lurking among the stones. There were quite a few grouse and ptarmigan to be seen during the walk too. We made it back to the car by 18.00 hours, completing the last mile along Glen Lui with the help of torches. A great day and an example of how spectacular Scottish mountains can be in Autumn.