Some mountains you'll climb because of their innate magic or beauty; others because of their technical challenge or for the views from the top. But most people who climb The Cairnwell, Carn a Gheoidh, and Carn Aosda will do so because these three mountains are close to the large, high altitude (over 2,000ft) car parks of the Glenshee Ski Centre. By common consent they are the easiest bunch of three Munros anywhere.
But even their mother would be hard pressed to call them the prettiest. The corrie above the ski centre has an extensive collection of ski fences, lifts, tracks and all the other detritus of ski development: and this never looks good anywhere, out of season.
At least the main chair lift built to take skiers to within a few feet of the summit of The Cairnwell no longer operates in summer, thereby ensuring you do have to expend some energy getting to its top.
Once there you find the summit is no prettier than the corrie. Less so, in fact, with its extensive collection of concrete buildings and assorted aerials. It's worth the trip, however, if only for the view south towards the Spittal of Glenshee and beyond. This is also an excellent spot to take in the views east beyond Glenshee to Glas Maol and its much rockier southern neighbour, Creag Leacach.
The sense of being in the mountains starts to reassert itself once more when you descend the north ridge of The Cairnwell and take a left turn to head across the much wilder upland tract that separates you from Carn a Gheoidh. Here at least you can leave behind you the ski lifts, fences and tracks and start to appreciate the huge area of wilderness on whose edge you perch as you look to the west and then round to take in the high Cairngorms to the north-west.
But then its a matter of retracing your steps to the ridge between The Cairnwell and Carn Aosda, and trekking along the bulldozed tracks that lead around the top of the corrie, on to Carn Aosda, and almost all the way to its stony summit. Once more the views away from the ski centre are better than those that take it in.
And, having taken them in, you then retrace your steps a short distance before taking another bulldozed track directly back down to the ski centre and your car: with another three Munros in the bag...
Visitor InformationView Location on Map
The Cairnwell is 933m or 3,061ft;
Carn a Gheoidh is 975m or 3,198ft;
Carn Aosda is 917m or 3,008ft.
The route described here is about 11km or 7 miles in length, and involves some 570m of ascent.