Carn a'Gheoidh and the Cairnwell

West of Glenshee

Hillwalking route over the 3 Munros west of Glenshee

Carn Aodsa and The Cairnwell hiked together from Glenshee Ski Centre makes for one of the easiest Munro routes. Extend this to include Carn a' Gheoidh for something a tad more challenging !

Route outline

  Map base ©OpenStreetMap

The Cairnwell

Carn Aosda

Carn a' Gheoidh

Ascent 625m (2050ft)
Distance 11km (7m)
Time 3:50hr
Start/finish Glenshee Ski Centre
Grid Ref : NO139782
easy hard
easy hard
easy hard
ok fab

The Glenshee Ski Centre sits at 650m above sea-level overlooked by several Munros, including Carn Aosda and The Cairnwell. Hiking these two Munros from the ski centre makes for one of the easiest Munro days with only 400m of ascent in under 5km ! Extend the route to include nearby Carn a' Gheoidh in more remote surroundings makes for something a tad more challenging and interesting !

Route map

Route description

1. Getting to Glenshee

Carn Aosda above the Glenshee Ski Centre

The A93 connects Perth with Aberdeen, passing through Braemar in Deeside. A few miles south of Braemar, Glenshee Ski Centre is just below the col on the road's highest point. Unless skiing is in full swing, there are usually no problems parking by the ski centre or in the vast rough area east of the road.

2. Carn Aosda

Descending Carn Aosda

From the back of the main buildings of the Glenshee Ski Centre, head up a bulldozed track. Past a building, uphill a bit further, continue up to the crest of hills where a junction in the track above Coire Butchart is met . Turn right and follow the track initially northwards. The track continues onto the crest of Carn Aosda, just west of the summit and above the top of the ski-tows.

Carn Aosda's summit crest is covered in boulders and stones, and a small cairn sits on the top .

3. Carn a'Gheoidh

Carn a'Gheoidh from the lochans to the north-east

From Carn Aosda's summit, return down the wide track south-west around the top of the ski-tows and down the bealach just above Coire Butchart and Loch Vrotacha.

If thinking of just bagging The Cairnwell, just stay on the track (see dashed line on map) and follow it all the way to the top of the chair-lift and onto the summit !

Alternatively, for a longer and more interesting day, from the bealach , look for a faint path on the right of the track aiming due south. This crosses wet ground and climbs a few metres to the col between the Cairnwell and Carn nan Sac.

A well-defined path crossed the col - turn right and follow this path south-west to the second of two lochans just north of Carn nan Sac. Turn around the south edge of this lochan, following a fainter path aiming directly towards Carn a'Gheoidh. The path continues over delightful grass-covered ground with only one short steep section on the final approach to Carn a'Gheoidh's summit .

4. The Cairnwell

The Cairnwell from the col below Carn nan Sac

From Carn a'Gheoidh retrace your steps back to the lochans and then to the bealach between Carn nan Sac and The Cairnwell .

At the bealach, directly ahead look for a scarred path that initially climbs uphill. Follow this as it then turns right (south-east) and cuts a route through heather and stones. As ascent levels out, the path meets up with a ski-run and line of snow fencing.

Follow the ski-run past the top of the Cairnwell Chairlift and continue on a rough track uphill to the huts, masts and weather-station on Cairnwell's summit . Although rather untidy, the Cairnwell's summit is a fine viewpoint in all directions.

5. Return to Glenshee ski centre

It's fairly straightforward to descend directly from Cairnwell downhill to the mast by the snow-gate.This is grassy most of the way with some small patches boulderfield to contend with.

Alternatively for a slightly softer descent, retrace your steps from the Cairnwell's summit for around 200m to just beyond the top of the Cairnwell Chairlift, then make a beeline north-east down grassy slopes to Glenshee Ski Centre directly below.

A third more gentle, but longer option would be to follow the ski-run from the Cairnwell down to the top of Coire Butchart then turn east and hike down another track/ski-run back to Glenshee Ski Centre.

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