Carn a' Gheoidh - 975m
Carn Aosda - 917m
Saturday 9th October 2010
Weather/Conditions: Warm and sunny, with inversion-conditions, and cloud lapping over the east Glen Shee summits. Some cloud on our hills too - briefly on The Cairnwell, then on the summit of Gheoidh. All the cloud in the local area cleared towards the end however, and we had minimal wind all day.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 11km / 630m / 4h 30m
Accompanying: Samantha Munro and James Seaman
For a range of hills so often blasted, it was a surprisingly good day.
I got the train to Hamilton after an hours sleep and met Samantha somewhere around about 7am. We picked up James in Dunblane before heading onto Glen Shee. Getting up was a bit grim but it's always worth it.
The weather on the way up was pretty awful - thick cloud everywhere. Thinking we'd be spending a day looking at mist and compass, the Cairnwell rolled into view as we passed the Spittal of Glenshee, and in front was boundless blue skies. With spirits through the roof, we stepped out of the car at the car park (elevation 650m) and into the warm sunshine.
I was highly anticipating my 100th Munro, finishing off the hills in the area and it was also my first trip with James.
Good banter saw us up the Cairnwell, views good all the way up. After all, you don't really climb it to get the wilderness experience. We walked up an empty ski run to the ridgeline, then took the last section very easy. We saw a broken spectre metres before the summit and got to the top in semi-inversion conditions.
Hill walkers hate the Cairnwell for all the rubbish on it's summit and slopes, but if there's anything going for it, it's that the true summit could be argued to be the top of the mast 15 metres above the 933m summit cairn. And after all, there's nothing telling you not to climb the mast... Up I went, pics included of course!
Carn a' Gheoidh (Munro #100)
And now for the 100th - Carn a' Gheoidh. It seemed like a long way back to get to it, but through rolling mist and sunshine we walked. It was good fun and very relaxing. Some hills are like that - a chance just to turn off and enjoy...
The last leg to the summit was in the cloud, but it was light. On the mist-shrouded plateau itself, blue sky could be seen directly above. And going full-pelt over the plateau, trying to find the cairn, it suddenly appeared in front of me.
I waited a minute for Sam and James. 100th Munro, just over there... Together with the others I headed up to the cairn, bagged it and sat down in the windbreaker for something to eat. Easy going!
If you want to find the second-most slagged Munro, it may be Carn Aosda. Equally as the Cairnwell covered in ski equipment (but no mast on top) it's also one without the wilderness factor, trading that instead for convenience. I think it might be an easier walk than The Cairnwell since there's a track all the way to the summit.
With my 100th Munro done we headed off the summit in roughly the right direction, came out the mist to find we were going slightly too south instead of east. On the path, we followed it back to beneath Carn Aosda, in the moderate warmth of the sun. It never heats up too well in October, but it was hot enough for me to be rolling my jeans up.
And in the north, I worked out the positions of all the hills floating above the mist to discovering we could see the giants of Cairn Toul, Braeriach, Ben MacDui and Beinn Mheadhoin. They appeared ethereal - without snow at this time of year but hanging above the horizon and flat without shadows, thanks to our southerly position.
On Carn Aosda, however, we traversed a hillside to pick a track which took us, literally, within couple metres of the summit. Over some stony ground, the cairn lay there and we took five minutes before doing the very easy descent to the car.
And in seemingly no time whatsoever, we were back at the car.
We drove to the Spittal of Glenshee for some drinks, but Dalmunzie Hotel was hosting a wedding. Sorry lads... but there's another down the road. Okay, so back we went, passing a learner driver (quite a sight) then got drinks in a place I don't remember the name of, but is likely the only bar in the Spittal. It was good, but I took a Diet Coke, still keeping off anything alcoholic since that night with the funny Slovakian beers...
Homewards after, we dropped James off in Dunblane, I slept a lot, then took the train home from Hamilton West. Brilliant.
(0.00) 9.10am Ski centre
(0.45) 9.55am The Cairnwell
(0.55) 10.05am The Cairnwell (left)
(2.10) 11.20am Carn a' Gheoidh
(2.35) 11.45am Carn a' Gheoidh (left)
(3.55) 1.05pm Carn Aosda
(4.30) 1.40pm Ski centre