Glen Dee and the Lairig Ghru

I haven’t had a chance to get off to the hills since May – work, family holidays and pretty awful ‘summer’ weather so I was looking forward to a couple of days in the Cairngorms. The weather had been good but, as luck would have it, it was supposed to deteriorate for the week-end.

Up early on Saturday – dull but not raining – and off to the Linn of Dee car park. My plan was to walk in to the Lairig Ghru and, if the weather was clear, to go up to the Falls of Dee in Garbh Coire, Braeriach and then on to the top. I’ve set myself a photo project to photograph the River Dee from the source to the sea (photos so far are on flickr) and this was a chance to get to the source on the plateau. It started to rain as I left the car park so I decided that this was probably a bit optimistic – so no need to rush. I decided I’d walk in via Glen Dee, where I’d never been before.

Most people take the trade route up Glen Luibeg and Glen Dee is pretty quiet – I saw a couple of fishermen near White Bridge but no walkers at all in the glen. The path after White Bridge is very boggy in parts and it took over 3 1/2 hours from Linn of Dee to Corrour bothy. The Chest of Dee just past White Bridge was a revelation – an absolutely beautiful spot (pics below) with opportunities for swimming in the river. But not today – not warm and too many midges.  The heather was in full bloom – the Cairngorms looked wonderfully purple, even in the flat light of a dull day. Not much wildlife apart from grouse and (I think) Meadow Pipits, which I disturbed in the heather.

At Corrour, it was decision time – to the tops or not. The rain had stopped but it was still misty on top – so I decided to stay low. Sweating to the summits to see bugger all in the mist is something I used to do a lot of. But as I’ve got older I’ve become a bit of a fair weather mountaineer – I like to get a view for the effort. So, I decided to go to the ‘alternative’ source of the Dee – the Pools of Dee at the watershed on the Lairig Ghru.

There’s a big boulder field around the Pools, which I don’t think are the source of the river as they are over the watershed. The source is springs just over the top. I took a few photographs then back down to an excellent camp site across the river from Corrour bothy. I’d just got my tent up when the rain started in earnest – and it didn’t stop for the rest of the evening. I had bought some dried food from Fuizion as an experiment – seafood tagliatelle – as they were supposed to make the best freeze dried meals. Well, if this was the best, I’d hate to have the worst – it was edible but only just – not much flavour and a rather gloopy texture. But hot chocolate and fruit cake made up for it.

I like going off on my own sometimes – my daughters ask if I get lonely but I never do and I find the solitude refreshing. I’d planned to do some reading and had loaded up my Kindle, but it wouldn’t wake up. The first time it has ever failed – and no mobile signal, so googling for a solution wasn’t on. So, it was Gershwin and a couple of podcasts from Bob and the Outdoors Station before an early sleep.

The rain stopped sometime in the night – I woke early and it was clear and dry. Unfortunately, I had to get back by the afternoon so didn’t have time to get to the tops – but I thought I’d walk back through Glen Dee again as there were so many opportunities for photography as you can see from the pics below. It really is superb and, again, I didn’t see a soul.

My Kindle problem is apparently pretty common – easily fixed by rebooting.

Photos (click on the pic for a larger version)

Corrour bothy and the River Dee in the Lairig Ghru

The Pools of Dee at Lairig watershed


Springs at the Pools of Dee. An alternative source of the River Dee


There was a brief improvement in the weather at the Pools of Dee. It didn’t last but I got a view down the Lairig


Camp in the Lairig – Early morning


The Devils Point from Glen Dee. OS maps do not show the Gaelic name for this hill because the English translation is an euphemism – it should be the Devil’s Penis


Ruined shielings in Glen Dee


The River Dee by the Chest of Dee. I waded into the river to take this – my shoes were caked with mud from the bogs so this was a good chance to clean them


The Chest of Dee, in Glen Dee


White Bridge. I have no idea why this is called White Bridge as it obviously isn’t white.


2 thoughts on “Glen Dee and the Lairig Ghru

  • September 4, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    Sounds like a good walk,Ian.I “did” two days of WHW in early Aug(only had two days avail!)-from B of O to Kinlochleven then Kinloc to Fort Bill-hot and perfect weather-busy,though,and I got sore feet-track shoes would have been better!

    • September 4, 2012 at 8:42 pm

      Hi Liz – most people miss Glen Dee – it’s really nice. I have completely converted to trail shoes for walking in the summer. Even when its wet and boggy, I found my feet didn’t get cold and I have never had any foot problems of any kind. Back to boots when it gets cold I guess.


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