Upper Dee Valley

  • Upper Dee under high Cairngorms - © William Mackesy
  • Upper Dee under high Cairngorms - © William Mackesy
  • Across upper Dee - © William Mackesy
  • Broad Upper Dee - © William Mackesy
  • Looking back up Upper Dee to high Cairngorms - © William Mackesy
  • By Linn of Dee - © William Mackesy
  • Descending Cairngorms - © Flickr user CaptainOates
  • East Cairngorms - © Flickr user Johnny Hall
  • Loch Etchachen and Ben McDui - © Flickr user Nick Bramhall
  • © Flickr user Nick Bramhall
  • © Flickr user Russel Dornan
  • © Flickr user Russel Dornan
  • © Flickr user Sicco2007
  • © Flickr user Sicco2007
  • Cairngorms - © Flickr user Sicco2007

Key information: Upper Dee Valley

  • Superb wide valley leading into the heart of the high wilderness of the Cairngorms and eventually to the Lairig Ghru pass.
  • High above are moorland, peaks (three of Britain’s five highest), beetling crags and purple hillsides.
  • Make a circuit with Glen Lui.

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating84.5
  • Beauty32
  • Natural interest17
  • Human interest4
  • Charisma31.5
  • Negative points0
  • Total rating84.5

Vital Statistics

  • Length: Your choice
  • Maximum Altitude: 600m
  • Level of Difficulty: Variable
Upper Dee under high Cairngorms - © William Mackesy


The upper Dee valley is magnificent, the great river winding on a very flat bottom, which is initially littered with the remains of old crofts, some at least vestiges of the often tragic highland clearances, before turning up into the high Cairngorms and gradually narrowing.  

The glen is dotted lower down with the remains of the ancient Caledonian forest. The hillsides are (of course) clothed in trademark heather. High above are moorland, peaks, beetling crags and purple hillsides.

 The central Cairngorm NP is a huge, roadless, protected area teeming with precious wildlife and rare and delicate plants. Wildlife includes eagles, ptarmigan, deer and mountain hares.

The track starts from the roadhead at Linn of Dee, and is immediately delightful, winding through ravishing open Caledonian forest. It soon emerges into the wide, gorgeous upper glen.

A little above the junction with the Geldie Burn, where you turn off for Glen Feshie (see above), is the lovely low Chest of Dee waterfall. Further on is a longish and at times boggy stretch, then Glen Dee becomes a truly wild, romantic place, below the high peaks and sheer cliffs of the high Cairngorms. Increasingly magnificent as the glen approaches the great crags of The Devil’s Point, Cairn Toul and the Ben Macdui/Carn a’Mhaim ridge, eventually narrowing to the north into the famous Lairig Ghru pass, with Braeriach to its left.

Stay in or camp near the Corrour Bothy, or wild camp, and tackle a Cairngorm peak or tramp north through the Lairig Ghru the next day.

You can circle round into upper Glen Lui, which is, if it is possible, even more beautiful than what you have seen so far.

This is a remoteish walk in mountains, with always unpredictable weather. Come prepared.

The Cairngorms: Walks, Trails and Scrambles – Cicerone. As usual, a brilliantly researched book covering 102 fantastic walks of all shapes and sizes, including several on Ben Macdui.

Find relevant books on Amazon.


Other accounts: share your experiences

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

Across upper Dee - © William Mackesy

Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

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Broad Upper Dee - © William Mackesy...

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