Linn of Dee to Fords of Avon

Fords of Avon MTB

Route: Linn of Dee to Fords of Avon
Distance: 21m / 34km
Profile: View
Grade: Hard
Fitness: Moderate
Time: 6 - 8 Hours
OS MAP: 36
Route Data: GPX KML
Riders: Dave Banks, Brian Gray
Date: 13/07/2013


Summary

A mixture of bike and hike, landrover track, single track and water crossings make this a rewarding mountain bike trek through remote and interesting scenery.

This route requires good levels of fitness and depending on ability, also requires a fair amount of bike and hike.


Details

The plan was to cycle from the Linn of Dee to Loch Avon via Glen Derry. Due to the condition of the path, our destination was revised and the mountain refuge hut at the Fords of Avon became our new destination. Even this wasn't achieved by bike, progress was that slow, we hid the bikes behind a large rock and walked the last 1.5 miles to the refuge hut to fulfill our goal.

Starting off at the cattle grid just beyond the NTS Car Park, cross the bridge over the Lui Water and a few hundred yards later turn right onto the landrover track that heads to Derry Lodge. The track surface varies from loose stones to hard dirt with water erosion noticeable in places. Progress is good, and Derry Lodge is reached in 30 minutes.

Heading down to the Mountain Rescue hut, cross the burn via the stepping stones, but don't cross the bridge. Instead turn right and follow the grassy track as it follows the course of the river before turning into single track as it climbs away from the river. The single track is nice and firm, progress is only slowed by the numerous drainage channels that cut across the path, some of which are too awkward to cycle over. These channels can be as close as every 15 yards, so progress can be slow at times and a bit infuriating as you can't make the most of the singletrack. The only advantage of having to slow down or stop at these drainage channels is it gives you time to appreciate the scenery.

You will eventually come to a wider water crossing, but there are convenient stepping stones to prevent you getting your feet wet. The track steepens here from the gentle gradient, and another drainage channel, requiring you to get off your bike, spoils your run at it. It was easier just to walk rather than get back on the bike. This section isn't long and soon heads downhill where the track meets the valley floor and the river again. More drainage channels mean you can't take full advantage of the track, but some can be easily cycled over, while others require you to get off your bike.

The track heads along the valley floor, and here the drainage channels have areas to the side where bikes can bypass them. This makes progress a lot easier. The single track gives way to a grassy landrover track and a small burn crossing is easily managed using the stepping stones to keep your feet dry. The track varies from indistinct grassy patches, to firm dirt, to firm stony track and loose stony sections that may require you to get off at the more awkward bits. Another burn crossing is easily managed using the large boulders to pick a route over without getting your feet wet.

The track now starts its ascent to the col, as it reaches the Y junction, the left branch takes you to the Hutchison Memorial hut and Loch Etchachan, it deteriorates to more like a dried up river bed in places with loose stones making cycling hard. This is where the bike and hike really starts, there is more pushing than cycling in places and the numerous drainage channels add to the slow rate of progress. Once the path reaches the summit, you start seeing a hint of the turn off point for the final destination, Loch Avon.

The path drops down onto the valley floor and looks reasonable from the summit, but after about 50 yards, it soon deteriorates to a point where you are back off your bike and pushing. There are small sections of about 10 - 15 yards that can be cycled with care, but the track is basically just large stones and even pushing the bikes becomes very slow progress.

At this point, we decided to change our destination to the refuge hut at the Fords of Avon, ditch the bikes and just walk the final 1.5 miles there, just so we can say we saw the refuge hut and the Fords. We marked a suitable stone with some gravel to indicated where to find the bikes, as they couldn't be seen from the path at all. At times, the track improved and it looked like ditching the bikes was a mistake, but these sections were short and the track was as bad as ever, our decision was the right one, as the track varied from boggy sections to stony outcrops.

We reached the refuge hut just as a group of walkers arrived from Aviemore, so we didn't even get the place to ourselves. After a few photos, we headed back, collected the bikes and spend the next 15 minutes pushing them up to the top of the col.

This is where all the fun starts, with care it was possible to cycle down most of the track, just the larger boulders and the drainage channels slowing progress down. The distance is quickly covered, and good speeds can be attained, but the numerous drainage channels spoil the fun and you need to keep your speed down to make sure you can stop in time for the larger ones that can't be cycled over.

Derry Lodge is soon reached and another 20 minutes gets you back to the car.


Photo Gallery

Bridge over Lui Water

Cattle grid area

Turn off to Derry Lodge

Warning sign

Bridge over Lui Water

 

Cattle grid area

 

Turn off to Derry Lodge

 

Warning sign

Track starts off good

Track follows river

Water erosion

Looking towards Glen Derry

Track starts off good

 

Track follows river

 

Water erosion

 

Looking towards Glen Derry

Loose surface

Looking down to bridge

Bridge over Lui Water

Looking up Lui Water

Loose surface

 

Looking down to bridge

 

Bridge over Lui Water

 

Looking up Lui Water

Derry Lodge

Mountain Rescue Hut

Looking towards Glen Lui

Take right fork

Derry Lodge

 

Mountain Rescue Hut

 

Looking towards Glen Lui

 

Take right fork

Head towards foorbridge

Stepping stones

Don

Head up this track

Head towards foorbridge

 

Stepping stones

 

Don't cross bridge

 

Head up this track

Looking towards Glen Lui

Track starts to climb

Track and river part

Drainage channel

Looking towards Glen Lui

 

Track starts to climb

 

Track and river part

 

Drainage channel

Typical scenery

Looking up Glen Derry

Looking up Glen Derry

Another drainage channel

Typical scenery

 

Looking up Glen Derry

 

Looking up Glen Derry

 

Another drainage channel

Off bike yet again

Track continues to climb

Firm singletrack

Glen Derry

Off bike yet again

 

Track continues to climb

 

Firm singletrack

 

Glen Derry

Glen Derry

Another drainage channel

Glen Derry

Glen Derry

Glen Derry

 

Another drainage channel

 

Glen Derry

 

Glen Derry

Another drainage channel

Track surface loser

Track climbs in the distance

Track firmer again

Another drainage channel

 

Track surface loser

 

Track climbs in the distance

 

Track firmer again

Waterfall in the valley below

Slight descent

Burn crossing

Steep climb

Waterfall in the valley below

 

Slight descent

 

Burn crossing

 

Steep climb

Another drainage channel

Easy crossing

Dead Scots Pine

Track descends to valley floor

Another drainage channel

 

Easy crossing

 

Dead Scots Pine

 

Track descends to valley floor

Final descent to valley floor

By-Pass for drainage channel

Track along valley floor

Looking along valley floor

Final descent to valley floor

 

By-Pass for drainage channel

 

Track along valley floor

 

Looking along valley floor

Track turns to landrover track

Looking towards the col

Burn crossing

Track heads through the grass

Track turns to landrover track

 

Looking towards the col

 

Burn crossing

 

Track heads through the grass

Back to proper singletrack

Going still good

Track cuts through the grass

Track resembles dried up river bed

Back to proper singletrack

 

Going still good

 

Track cuts through the grass

 

Track resembles dried up river bed

Thistle

The bike and hike starts

Track ahead still OK

Climbing from the valley floor

Thistle

 

The bike and hike starts

 

Track ahead still OK

 

Climbing from the valley floor

Another burn crossing

Feet can be kept dry

Track ahead climbs towards the col

More hiking here

Another burn crossing

 

Feet can be kept dry

 

Track ahead climbs towards the col

 

More hiking here

Y junction to the Hutchison Memorial hut

Track to Hutchison Memorial hut

Rocky track to the col

Progress is slow over lose stones

Y junction to the Hutchison Memorial hut

 

Track to Hutchison Memorial hut

 

Rocky track to the col

 

Progress is slow over lose stones

col getting closer

Looking over to Hutchison Memorial hut

Track improves again

Yet another drainage channel

col getting closer

 

Looking over to Hutchison Memorial hut

 

Track improves again

 

Yet another drainage channel

Looking over to Hutchison Memorial hut

Another easy burn crossing

Track continues to climb

Looking over to Hutchison Memorial hut

Looking over to Hutchison Memorial hut

 

Another easy burn crossing

 

Track continues to climb

 

Looking over to Hutchison Memorial hut

Track reasonable at this stage

Track a bit rougher again

Looking over to Hutchison Memorial hut

Final ascent to the col

Track reasonable at this stage

 

Track a bit rougher again

 

Looking over to Hutchison Memorial hut

 

Final ascent to the col

Looing down from the col

Track just visible

Descent looks OK

More hiking

Looing down from the col

 

Track just visible

 

Descent looks OK

 

More hiking

Progress is slow

Looks promising again

Rock gives way to better surface

Getting rough again

Progress is slow

 

Looks promising again

 

Rock gives way to better surface

 

Getting rough again

The easiest way transport the bike

Hiding the bikes

X marks the spot

Track looks better

The easiest way transport the bike

 

Hiding the bikes

 

X marks the spot

 

Track looks better

Boulder with marker

Path looks OK

Rocky slabs on mountain side

More rocky outcrops

Boulder with marker

 

Path looks OK

 

Rocky slabs on mountain side

 

More rocky outcrops

Refuge hut in the distance

Closer view

Closer still

More rock

Refuge hut in the distance

 

Closer view

 

Closer still

 

More rock

Easy burn crossing

Looking up towards Loch Avon

Nearly there

Fords of Avon

Easy burn crossing

 

Looking up towards Loch Avon

 

Nearly there

 

Fords of Avon

Looking down stream

Stepping stones

Looking upstream

Easier crossing point

Looking down stream

 

Stepping stones

 

Looking upstream

 

Easier crossing point

Walkers arrive from Aviemore

Feet get wet this time

Refuge Hut

Inside is sparse

Walkers arrive from Aviemore

 

Feet get wet this time

 

Refuge Hut

 

Inside is sparse

Toilet on the right (spade)

Stones to protect refuge

Refuge Hut

Looking back towards the col

Toilet on the right (spade)

 

Stones to protect refuge

 

Refuge Hut

 

Looking back towards the col

Heading down from the col to the valley floor

Track up from Valley floor

Valley floor below

Drop down to burn crossing

Heading down from the col to the valley floor

 

Track up from Valley floor

 

Valley floor below

 

Drop down to burn crossing

Drainage channels slow descent to valley floor

Rocky descent to valley floor

Valley floor

Valley floor

Drainage channels slow descent to valley floor

 

Rocky descent to valley floor

 

Valley floor

 

Valley floor

Descent down to burn crossing

Climbing up from valley floor

Final descent to Derry Lodge

Frog in drainage channel

Descent down to burn crossing

 

Climbing up from valley floor

 

Final descent to Derry Lodge

 

Frog in drainage channel