The Glenshee Munros, July 2006

Remarkably, it was six years since I had last visited Deesside. On the previous occasion I had stayed in Braemar and had used the Heather Hopper summer bus service to reach Glas Maol and its neighbours to the east of the Glenshee ski complex. This time I stayed in Ballater, further down the glen, and on my first full day I used the same bus service to being me back to the same starting point. My objective, this time, was the group of three Munros to the west of Glenshee; Carn Aosda, Carn a' Gheoid and the Cairnwell.

The bus dropped me off at the Glenshee ski centre in the late morning. The altitude of the A82 Braemar-Blairgowrie road here is only a whisker short of 2000 ft; it's the highest main road in Britain and is topped only by the Bealach na Ba on the west coast (an unclassified road that reaches 2009ft). Glenshee is not exactly a scenic environment but fortunately the two Munros that rise immediately above it are the most accessible high mountains in Britain. I started off up the rough vehicle track to the northwest, which was heading almost straight for the summit of Carn Aosda.

It's not a pretty ascent route but it's quick and effective. This vehicle track runs up through the ski runs on Carn Aosda's eastern slopes.

.After only 25 minutes of climbing I stopped to take a look back at the ski centre. the hill on the other side of the glen is Glas Maol.

From further along the track I'm looking at the Cairnwell, just over a mile to the south. Some of the guidebooks would have you climb the Cairnwell first; I regard this advice as dubious because the Cairnwell's slopes are pathless and uniformly steep.

Just 40 minutes after stepping off the bus I arrived at the summit of Carn Aosda. This must surely be Scotland's easiest Munro. The summit, a rring of shattered stone, is only just clear of the intrusions of ski tows and snow fences. The view to the south is marred by these developments but in other directions the mountainscape is interesting.

The view from the summit - the high tops of the Cairngorms to the north.

A closeup of the previous shot, looking directly at the extensive summit plateau of Beinn a' Bhuiridh, with Ben Avon to the right.

The view to the east, and here the summit of Lochnagar appears in the centre of shot.

The view to the northeast, looking dow the glen towards Auchallater and Braemar.

The retrospective view of Carn Aosda as I walked along the ridge path to the south west.

The path sweeps around in a wide curve towards the Cairnwell. I would be going that way later on the day but my immediate objective ws to turn right for Carn a' Gheoid, about a mile and a half away to the west.

Loch Vrotachan, which lays in a basin to the west and which drains into the Baddoch Burn beyond and to the right. An Socach and Beinn Iutharn Beag appear beyond, and the weather is starting to clear from that direction.

I didn't know it at the time but this was to be my best photo of the Cairnwell, seen here across the head of Coire Dhirich.

Loch Vrotachan from the same point.

A look back at Carn Aosda from the same point. The rough vehicle track around the head of the ski runs is clearly seen and is a bit of a disfigurement.

The map shows no path from the Glenshee vehicle track westwards to Carn a' Gheoid. In fact there is a good path for most of the way, but the terrain is so benign that a path is not actially necessary. This is one of the great joys of the Cairngorms and the Mounth; the terrain is a gift to walkers and you can more or less pick your own line and wander wherever you choose. The route here runs along the top of Creag a' Coire Dhirich. Here's another view of Loch Vrotachan with the central Cairngorms on the skyline.

This is a section of the path, showing the ridge running along to the monor top of Carn nan Sac.

Panning ti the right from the same spot that's Carn a' Gheoid, roughly 2km away.

This is one of two small lochans, neither of which are named on the map, laying just to th north of the path.

A view along the imposing Coire Dhirich. The ridge of Creag Leacach rises to the left across the dip of Glen Shee (a small section of the road can just be seen). Way over in the distance towards the right is the shapely summit of Mount Blair.

A mile of short turf and easy gradients is all that seperates me from Carn a Gheoid.

The path approaches the short climb up the summit dome.

Looking back along the ridge towards the Cairnwell.

Just 65 minutes after leaving Carn Aosda I've reached the parent hill of the Glenshee group; Carn a' Gheoid, 3199 ft above sea level and my 27th Munro. One more and I'll have climbed one in ten of the buggers.

The view just south of west from the summit. I'm not familiar with the area so I can't identify any feature with accuracy, but the hills a few miles away just left of centre are probably those of the Beinn a' Ghlo massif. Glas Tulachean rises just to the right of centre and the hill to the far right is probably Carn am Righ. Far away on the skyline to the left of shot is the Ben Lawers group.

The view to the west-southwest. The Ben Lawers mountains form the skyline in the centre of shot. It's difficult to identify much else in this direction; the distinct hill abot seven or eight miles away would appear to be the Corbett of Ben Vuirich, so one of the craggier hills to the left and further away would be Ben Vrackie. The closer feature is the southeast ridge of Glas Tulachean.

The panorama to the southwest, and the main feature here is the northeast face of Meall a' Choire Bhuidhe, beyond Glen Lochsie.

The view south-southwest. The pimply hill to the right is Ben Earb, above Glen Lochsie; to the left, and slightly nearer, is Ben Gulabin.

We're looking slightly east of south, more or less in the direction of Spittal of Glenshee. A track is clearly seen rising over Creagan Bheithe, a south top of Carn a' Gheoid; it is nevertheless not marked on any map currently in print. Beyond is Meall Uaine.

The view to the southest is dominated by Mount Blair.

Further round again, the southern ridge of Creag Leacach starts to rise to the left. Far away on the horizon tio the right are the twin Fife Hills, East and West Lomond.

To the east-southeast the view is dominated by Creag Leacach.

The col between Creag Leacach and Glas Maol.

Almost due east, and Glas Maol fills the shot.

The view to the east-northeast. The Cairnwell is obvious, about two miles away, by the radio huts on its summit. The hill on the skyline is Carn of Claise.

Futher to the northeast is the terrain I'd just covered to get here, and Carn Aosda is seen to the left (obvious from the vehicle tracks and screes). The pinkish screes just right of centre and about five miles away belong to Cairn an Tuirc; the highest point on the skyline is Lochnagar, roughly ten miles away.

To the northeast is Carn Aosda and its northern hinterland just beyond Loch Vrotachan. I can't identify the far distant hills tjough one of them might well be Geallaig, north of Ballater.

The view north-northeast down Glen Clunie towards Braemar.

To the north, Morrone stands nearby over to the right; on the skyline are Beinn a' Bhuiridh to the left and Ben Avon to the right, divided by the high col known as the Sneck.

The central Cairngorms, seen to the north-northwest.

.Northwest to the Cairngorms. The highest summit, just right of centre, is Ben Macdui. Cairn Toul and Braeriach rise to the left. The hill to the far left is probably Beinn Bhrotain.

The remote, unfrequented country to the northwest is dominated by the Munro of An Socach.

Carn am Righ, Beinn Iutharn Mor and Beinn Iutharn Beag, seen to the west-northwest; the remotest hills in the Mounth.

To the west we see Glas Tulachean and Carn am Righ.

Back where the panorama started, just south of west; Glas Tulachean, with the Beinn a' Ghlo hills beyond.

It was at this point that my camera decided to give up the ghost. It had been playing up for several weeks, losing its settings, forgetting the time and date, getting itself into strange modes. Now it really went into a sulk, refusing to retract the lens, flashing up error messages and switching itself off. Ten weeks on, as I write this, its condition is stil a mystery; I felt inclined to blame the CMOS battery that must surely reside inside it somewhere but the manual makes absolutely no mention of such a device. I have given up on it and bought a replacement.

More immediately, however, I had my lunch here (during which I was joined by two lads who had come over from An Socach) and then walked back to the east and ascended the Cairnwell. I had problems descending back to the road from here; it's pathless and steep and I had to go almost all the way back round to  Carn Aosda. Even so I found myself wallowing through pathless heather to get back to the ski centre and it wasn't a pleasant experience. As a plus, however, the sky cleared steadily and I ended the walk in glorious sunshine. The return bus to Ballater was smack on time.

Back to Mounth index page

This page last updated 1st October 2006

[an error occurred while processing this directive]