Share your personal walking route experiences in Scotland, and comment on other peoples' reports.
Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.

The Cairnwell Eight

The Cairnwell Eight

Postby calicoshmalico » Sat Jun 12, 2021 6:48 pm

Munros included on this walk: An Socach (Braemar), Beinn Iutharn Mhòr, Càrn a' Ghèoidh, Càrn an Rìgh, Càrn Aosda, Càrn Bhac, Glas Tulaichean, The Cairnwell

Date walked: 05/06/2021

Time taken: 30 hours

Distance: 42.94 km

Ascent: 2796m

8 people think this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).

What started out as an intention to do the Cairnwell three, grew arms and legs until it was decided to just do the eight in one go. Well why not eh!
The weather for the weekend 5th-6th June looked fine with possibly some rain making it's way through Perthshire, we might see a shower so I shoved in my light MTR shell into the pack. My son Craig and I intended to summit camp so everything was in for that event. My pack weight with 1L of water and food was 12kg, the Osprey AG itself weighs 2kg but it's comfortable when it's on. I used to do this with 15-17kg :shock: but over the years more lightweight gear has replaced the heavier items I carried and now I take nothing unless it's essential. On shorter hikes/camps I would definitely chuck in a wee luxury or two though. On this hike I did have a couple on Miniature's of Ben Lomond, an 12yr and 18yr old. It's nice to sit on top of a mountain at sunset, have a dram, take in the scenery and reflect on the day.
The road was closed just beyond Blairgowrie due to an accident so we detoured up the Glenisla road, we were in no hurry. The car park at Glenshee of which I see there is now a £3 charge payable online or at the cafe, was busy as you would expect on such a nice day so we quickly sorted ourselves out and set off at 11.35am on what turned into something a lot harder than I had initially anticipated.

A Glenshee Epic.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Heading up by the ski tows we turned left for the Cairnwell then out to Carn a Gheoidh, we would leave Carn Aosda for the return leg.

Making our way over to CaG I was in front with Craig behind when I heard him give me shout to come back and take a look at the ground. There in a small hole was the cutest little Leveret with only it's head visible. It didn't move at all it just sat tight, Craig took a quick pic and we moved on.


I think part of the inspiration for this hike came from reading a post by Mountainlove who did it back in 2012, I couldn't find anything else on WH of a route for us to follow but the weather is to be fine we have a map and compass so were not getting lost. Plus if we did them all in one go then that was another eight in the bag and that area of the Gorms ticked off. ML mentioned when she came to Creag Dallaig she went down through the steep gully, well thanks for the info and pics but no thanks :lol: ,
After reaching Carn a Gheoidh and snapping a quick summit pic,we headed off and followed the Allt Aulich downhill then skirted the crags and dropped to meet the Allt Easgaidh and fill up with water for the climb to Glas Tulaichean.

Anyone see the big grey dug with the short tail on the hillside. :)





Trying to keep my feet dry.


We just took a direct route up hill but there is an easier route following the stream up to the head of the glen and Loch nan Eun, not so steep but would take longer. I was really feeling it after 750m so we cut across hill not realising that the path coming up from the Spittal was not that far above us, we regained the path further along and the summit was dully reached and boy did I need a rest after that.


Craig just about to be attacked by a giant insect.


Next was Carn an Righ but we hadn't had lunch yet and it was too windy up here to light a stove so we dropped down and over to meet the path coming from Loch nan Eun, found a sheltered spot and got some coffee brewed ate some food filtered water and again set off along the same path as it gently makes it's way on the flank of Mam nan Carn.




The climb for Carn an Righ starts at 771m and is a straightforward up and down, what makes it not so straightforward is when your half way back to the bags and realise your hiking poles are still lying next to the cairn. :shock: Doh!
Back up I went to get them, I could have sent my son but memories and guilt of when I sent him from the car park back up to the Meall Odhar cafe to get my phone which I had left when we were snowboarding returned. By the time he got up there the tows had stopped so he had to run through the snow to catch the last person from the now closed cafe climbing into the piste machine with a bag full of lost property :clap: What a hero.
I left them, I'll go get them.
So on we go to Beinn Lutharn Mhor to hopefully find a flat grassy pitch for the night. The path climbs easily to the bealach between Man nan Carn and Lutharn Mhor then it's an easy pull to the summit. A pitch was found right at the cairn and we got the tents up pronto, water boiled for dinner, (two Chicken and mushroom mug shots with added chicken I had brought along) and some warmer clothes on. I had high hopes for a stunning sunset and at one point it looked as if it may just happen but then the cloud seemed to roll in very quickly and obscure the horizon. The cloud base dropped to bellow summit level on surrounding mountains but we were still clear for the time being.




Boots off and slippers on.

Craig enjoying more space in the Cloud Up2 than his Bivvy tent offers.

After a tasty dinner I had a couple of drams with my mini individual cheeses, had a natter about the days events then retired for the evening. It took me a while to slip into a sleep but I do remember hearing rain at some time through the night. My alarm was set for 04.15 to check for a sunrise and on unzipping my tent door to a misty morning and total non event, I quickly got back into bed and just dozed until after 7am. I'd brought some Oats with Raspberries and Blueberries mixed in which I had added a bit of water to the previous night, so all I had to do was boil water, add a little to the oats and use the rest for my coffee. That and a soft bake biscuit sorted breakfast for me. Time to get packed and on the move as by now it was 9 ish, I never seem to be able to strike camp and be off for the crack of dawn. What's the hurry!
We headed down the broad shoulder of Lutharn Mhor then dropped steeply down to reach flat ground, we topped up our water from the Allt nan Clach Geala before heading up by the Grouse Butts. Certainly no issues with finding water out here so I carried no more than 1L except for some of the steeper climbs as I did not want to start dehydrating, I start to get leg cramps especially on descents if I don't drink enough water. I was also using Hydration tablets in my water bladder for the first time (quite pleasant to drink, like watered down cremola foam). Once again any opportunity to shed the bags was taken as we were coming back the same way, a bit of rough ground took us onto the path leading to the summit of Carn Bach. The views out towards Cairn Toul, Ben Macdui, Derry Cairngorn etc. were impressive and I look forwards to getting out there soon hopefully.

It was a steep drop off Lutharn Mhor.



After some pics and summit naming it was back down to pick up the bags before following the Allt an Odhar downstream where we found the bridge that crosses the Ey Burn a little further on from the Altanour Lodge (ruin). There were some stunning pools and waterfalls on this stretch which looked so inviting for a plunge as by now it was really warm in the sun and I did feel a bit sticky.
All the while making our way down our eyes were constantly drawn to what lay ahead of us, the imposing An Socach which from this side just looked so steep, I was not looking forward to this next climb.
At this point we spotted a Golden Eagle soaring around on unseen thermals above us, yessssss! it was fantastic to watch it for what must have been a good ten minutes or more before it dissapeared from view. I've had a quite few close up sightings with the Sea Eagles on Loch Shiel and up close those birds are huge, they make Ravens look like Starlings :lol: but this was only my third Goldie in all the years out in the hills and mountains. It seemed to lift our spirits a bit as we started to make our way to the start of the climb.







We found a path that headed upwards which could be easily followed but about halfway up it dissapeared into grassy much steeper terrain. This was now really tough and the Jelly Babies I had gubbed back at the bridge were just managing to keep me going. The machine on the other hand seemed to be taking it in his stride, he's got youth and 10-20mile weekly runs working for him. Dig deep auld fella dig deep! :lol:
The path re-emerged out of the grass and the gradient eased slightly, as we gained further height the steepness of the climb gave way to a much gentler slope and before long the hard work was done but with about 90mtrs of accent still to go it was still up hill to the summit. My purple coupon and heavy breathing started to calm down as i guzzled on my quickly emptying water supply but at least we were up. An Socach is very flat on top so it was easy going until we started to head off the steeply sided drop and follow the Allt Boruiche down to meet the Baddoch burn.

We were having a laugh about this later but once we summited An Socach we got our first glimpse of the masts on top of the Cairnwell, as the crow fly's it's about 8.5km but it looked like double that. It just looked so far away and I for one really started to feel that the amount of ground we still had to cover was starting to dampen the spirit. I didn't doubt for a minute that we'd get back over to the ski center, but I knew it wasn't just an hours hike away. Fitness wise my legs were good and Craig said the same but my feet were really hotting up and I know he was the same, I suggested different insoles in his Bhutan's to see if that helps anyway by the time we got down to the Baddoch burn it was boots off in fact everything off and into the crystal clear freezing water to cool off and have a well deserved bath. I looked round and No1 son was already lying in the water with only his head sticking out, I was sitting splashing it on myself like a kid in a paddling pool. I'd been keeping my only spare shirt for somewhere near the end possibly a dunk in Loch Vrotachan, but now was the time for clean gear, a hot drink and gee ourselves up a bit, prepare for the climb up by the loch, then up Carn Aosda. Oh yeh that, why didn't we do that at the start. :roll:
It was so nice to sit in the cold water in the sunshine and just take a break, we boiled up some water for a hot chocolate then booted up again and set off on the last leg.


We both felt rejuvenated by the cold water and the hot drink, not exactly bounding up the hill towards the loch but we did both now feel the end was a lot closer than it had done. We saw one young stag and hundreds of hare as we headed through the heather, they seamed to be all around us with furry bodies of varying shades of grey, snow white feet and tails. And the grouse, I have never seen so many grouse they were everywhere.
We initially followed a grassy track that led up to the grouse butts then veered off left towards Vrotachan, this area and some of the others we crossed could become very boggy I would think in wetter weather but as it's been quite dry lately the going was easy. We made our way up and around the loch where we spotted an Osprey having a good look to see if it could catch a meal in the dark waters. No joy so it moved on and we climbed to the gravel track then on up to Carn Aosda. One final Munro before heading to the car park which by now had one camper van and two cars left in it. As we made our way back down by the tows there was another stag grazing that barely gave us a second glance, it looked at us then went back to munching grass.


Not much smiling as I am Knackered!

We arrived back at the van about 5.30 ish pm. Craig had a couple of camping chairs in the back so it was nice to get a seat get the boots off change into a pair of shorts and clean top and get the kettle on. I'd brought a cool bag with a packet of bacon and four rolls. So were sat in the car park with mugs of coffee our rolls and bacon feeling extremely proud of ourselves as that was the biggest hike we'd both done with so many Munro's along the way.
We had done the six Glas Maol Munro's with a high camp but this is a longer hike with much less path and more steep ground to climb, we did take some direct routes to try and shave distance but all in all it was a cracking wee adventure and one I'll never forget.
Mountain Walker
Posts: 27
Munros:128   Corbetts:18
Sub 2000:3   Hewitts:4
Wainwrights:4   Islands:6
Joined: Oct 16, 2012

Re: The Cairnwell Eight

Postby mrssanta » Sat Jun 12, 2021 10:52 pm

well that was an epic! I really enjoyed reading that and seeing your lovely pictures
User avatar
Mountain Walker
Posts: 3132
Munros:281   Corbetts:12
Sub 2000:10   Hewitts:43
Wainwrights:41   Islands:13
Joined: Jul 18, 2011
Location: north yorkshire moors

8 people think this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).

Can you help support Walkhighlands?

Our forum is free from adverts - your generosity keeps it running.
Can you help support Walkhighlands and this community by donating by direct debit?

Return to Walk reports - Scotland

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bob Stoddart, Graeme McDowall, whodanny and 34 guests