Here’s the latest route for those starting to discover the joys of climbing Munros! Like the previous route up Meall Chuaich near Dalwhinnie this is a relatively easy walk and the way is obvious, meaning getting lost is difficult unless it is cloudy – and why would you want to go to the top of a mountain if there was no view?
This was the first Munro I took my daughter up. Although only six, she managed it easily (with the encouragement of a bag of sweets) and earned a bottle of J2O in the cafe at the bottom!
The A93 rises to the Cairnwell Pass, five miles north of the Spittal of Glenshee, on “Britain’s Highest Road”. Therefore, relatively little effort is needed with a start point of 2,133 ft. And although there is a lot of metal construction connected to the Glenshee Ski Centre, the walk offers great views over the Grampian mountains and beyond. You can add the summit of Carn a’ Gheoidh but if this is among your first forays up Munros you may want to leave that for another day.
Distance: 5.5 miles / 9km.
Height climbed: 1,390 ft / 425m.
Time: 2.5 to 4 hours.
Map: OS Landranger 43.
Park: At the Glenshee Ski Centre by the side of the A93.
The route: Go past the ski centre building and turn left, up a broad track. After reaching the top of a steep rise, go right and pass a round, green building which houses a cafe during the winter. The track continues round to the right past a number of ski lifts before bearing left, uphill and across the ski slopes. When the track forks (just before it drops down slightly) go left and follow it around a final ski lift then through a gap in a fence.
The route becomes boggy here as it passes a hut made of orange corrugated metal and reaches another fence marking the boundary of the ski area. Once past this fence Loch Vrotachan comes into view and you should turn left on reaching a track. Follow this along a broad ridge as it crosses the fence and reaches a col.
After the col the track turns right and becomes steep as it goes up to the top of The Cairnwell and its incongruous telecommunications mast at 3,061 ft.
The views are extensive. To the south lies the Spittal of Glenshee with Perthshire beyond, east is the bulk of Glas Maol and north are the high Grampians. To the west, across a wide corrie is Carn a’Gheoidh. (At this point you can cut the walk short by going down by the one chairlift which stays open in the summer, at the col near to the bottom of the steep section leading to the summit of The Cairnwell.)
Retrace your steps to where Loch Vrotachan first came into view but instead of going back down to the right continue straight on. The track veers round to the right and crosses more ski slopes. When it starts to go further right, along a man-made terrace, look for a small path up the scree to your left. This leads the short distance to the top of Carn Aosda. From the rocky 3,008ft summit which has a distinct lack of vegetation there is a good view down Glen Clunie towards Braemar. Retrace your steps for about 50 yards until you have passed a fence on your left. Turn left here and follow a track down in a straight line before turning right and zig-zagging down to the track you came up on. Go left and drop back down to the car park.