Wednesday, 6 October 2010

The Fords of Avon and Glen Derry

The river was much quieter near the top of the glen.  Just after Faindouran the estate track ends and a rough path continues for 5km up to the Fords of Avon.  Ahead, it was plain that the showers had been falling as snow on the high tops.

At the Fords is the Refuge, basically a garden shed with big boulders piled around it!    In the winter it's sometimes completely covered by snow.  Not really a bothy, it's an emergency shelter and is cramped and dark inside though a welcome respite at times of bad weather.  The Refuge lies at 690 metres, at a crossroads in the Cairngorms.

From here one can go north to Ryvoan and Glenmore via either Bynack or Strath Nethy, west to the Loch Avon basin - heart of the Cairngorms, east to Glen Avon and Tomintoul or south to Glen Derry and Braemar.  Most directions are dependant upon fording the Avon though!

Today it was at a reasonable level.  I crossed without getting my feet wet and camped on the south side of the river.  The better camping pitch is near the Refuge, but it's wise to cross the river while you can when the weather is mixed!

On a much brighter and calmer morning I set out south, initially through the Lairig an Laoigh (pass of the calves - an indication of the former importance of this route as a drove road) then down into Glen Derry.  To my right, I had great views into Coire Etchachan.  The dip on the right leads out to Loch Etchachan, a high lochan at 922 metres with an arctic setting.

The back wall of the corrie contains the big cliffs of Creagan a'Choire Etchachan, on which there are some classic climbing routes - "Talsiman" and "Quartzvein Edge" are summer routes whilst "Djibangi" is one of the best winter routes.  Facing north-east and being high, these cliffs get a good covering of ice.

The route down to Derry goes through the pinewoods around Derry Lodge, then further to Glen Lui (Glen of the calves) to meet the road at Linn of Dee.

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