Walk of the week: The Cairnwell circular

Length of route: 7.4 miles
Starting point: Glenshee Ski Centre
Suitable for: Walking
Maps: OS Explorer Map 387 – Glenshee & Braemar
Use OS getamap
Or drop us a message on the blog and we can email you the GPX route


This is a great little walk which takes in three easy to get to Munros, Carn Aosda (917), Carn a Gheoidh (975) and The Cairnwell (933). There is free parking at NO139781 and there are toilets and café available at the Glenshee Ski Centre.

This walk starts at the Glenshee Ski Centre which, at 650 m, possibly makes these three Munros the easiest to get up in Scotland. To begin, you cross the road from the large parking area and go past the café and toilets on your left. Follow the track that is sign posted for the Carn Aosda hut/Carn Aosda. Unfortunately it is not the most picturesque start to a walk as you follow the track as it slowly winds up Carn Aosda and the ski tows. Shortly after passing the Ski refreshment bar, take the right hand fork and follow the track for 400 m as it ascends up Carn Aosda.

The views south from the top of this first Munro is dominated by the ski lifts, runs and communication masts on the Cairnwell; but, on a fine day, you can see over to Lochnagar, the Northern Cairngorms and the Drumochter Hills. After a brief stop for a breather and cake (optional) follow the track back down Carn Aosda (signposted for the Carn Aosda hut) heading in the direction of Loch Vrotachan. After 40 0m take a bearing on Carn a Gheoidh (228°). Follow this bearing for the next 3 km gently ascending the slope as you contour round Carn nan Sac to climb Carn a Gheoidh. Keep an eye out for  the wildlife: I lost count of the number of mountain/arctic hares and frogs I saw on this walk.The Cairnwell 003

Descend for Carn a Gheoidh and follow the path for 1.2 km along the Coolah. Skirt the top of Carn nan Sac on your right, and follow the path around the ridge for a further 1. 5km. Be careful which path you take as you start to ascend The Cairnwell as there appears to be two paths that skirt the right hand side of the mountain as you look at it.  Don’t follow these; stick to the path that heads up to the cairn and the top of the ski tows instead. Follow the track for a kilometre to the top of The Cairnwell. Again, not the prettiest of mountains when stood on top due to several communication masts situated on top, but great views can be had over towards the Lochnagar hills and down towards the Spittal of Glenshee.

To get back to the car follow the same track back down for 1.5km towards the Carn Aosda hut and then follow the track to your right for just over a kilometre down to the Ski centre.  Enjoy a cup of tea and cake in the café before heading home.

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