A key footbridge in the Cairngorms has been washed away in today's torrential rain and flooding.
The bridge across the Derry Burn at the foot of Glen Derry was lifted from its foundations and swept downstream. The loss of this essential link in the most popular route through the Lairig Ghru means that the pass is now best considered impassable by the Luibeg branch of the track - at least until water levels drop off.
Although the river is fordable at times of low water, the Mountaineering Council of Scotland has warned that for the foreseeable future anyone considering using this route should assess the situation and be aware that heavy rain will make it dangerous or even impossible.
The only alternative crossing is over 2km upstream and its safety has not yet been assessed, they say.
It's possible that other bridges in the area have also been affected. Head Ranger at NTS-owned Mar Lodge Estate, Peter Holden, said his team was still trying to assess the scale of damage done by the floods:
'The upper bridge over the Quoich was also swept away' he said, 'and there is damage to the track up to Derry Lodge, but we have not been able yet to check bridges such as the metal bridge at Derry Dam in Glen Derry, or the wooden plank bridge leading in to Coire Etchachan. We’ll also have to check the Luibeg Bridge.'
Once the extent of damage has been ascertained the estate will be in a position to start addressing the question of repair or replacement.
In the meantime, walkers and climbers heading into the Cairngorms should do what they can to check latest conditions on their route and ensure their plans are flexible, warn the MCofS