Return to Glenshee: The Glas Maol Circuit

The second day of myself and Sarah’s hill walking trip, this time in the Cairngorms national park on what was an absolutely scorching day. We opted to continue the multi-Munro theme and bagged the 4 Munros to the east of Glenshee Ski Centre on what was a glorious day for a hill walk.

[July ’21]

As we’d stayed in Perth the evening before, the drive north to the Cairngorms wasn’t as long as usual. The A93 is one of my favourite roads and I don’t need much of an excuse to drive it, so I was all too happy to do some hills from the top of the Cairnwell pass.

We arrived at the already busy car park (although no where near what I imagine it’s like in ski season!) and set off shortly before 0900. As well as a high-level start, there’s also the advantage of a toilet and cafe at the car park and we made use of the former before setting off down the A93 for a short distance to reach the ‘proper’ start of the walk. There is more parking at the start of the Walkhighlands route, but we had opted to park at the ski centre for the toilets and the fact that we’d definitely get in and out without issue, as the smaller car park further down the road can get busy and cramped.

A beautiful day for a hill walk

We made light work of the road section – which was still reasonably quiet thankfully – and turned off the tarmac to cross a bridge and follow a feint path along the side of a very pretty river with a few sets of waterfalls thrown in for good measure. Above us, Carn an Tuirc – our first objective – looked very fine indeed.

Gorgeous Cairngorms scenery

As with our trip the day before in Glen Lyon, the terrain was fairly gentle and there was a good path to follow. We reached the boulder-strewn summit of our first Munro just shy of 2 hours after setting off from the Ski Centre.

Glen Ey Munros from Carn an Tuirc

I absolutely love the Cairngorms – it’s easily my favourite place in Scotland – and the views on this trip were as spectacular as always. It was easy to pick out many of the highest tops in the area and other than a strong wind, it was a perfect day indeed!

We headed off the back of Carn an Tuirc to pick up the Monega pass track that heads from Braemar to Glen Isla, but not before passing over a summit or two – I imagine this would have been hard work driving cattle over the plateau!

After about half an hour or so we reached Carn of Claise, our 2nd Munro of the day. The wind had picked up further, but the stone wall running along the summit made an excellent windbreak and a chance to have a quick bite to eat without being battered by the wind.

Looking south from Carn of Claise

Once again refreshed, we headed on our way and battled against the very strong winds, but we were both pleased to be enjoying another sunny day in the hills so were in excellent spirits. Some relief came at the lowest point between the second and third Munros, but the higher we ascended towards Glas Maol’s wide summit plateau, the stronger the wind became.

Around 3.5 hours after setting off earlier, we reached our penultimate summit of the day. Thankfully there was a large sheltered cairn on the summit which made an excellent place to stop for another much-needed lunch, so we sat and enjoyed fine views across Angus and out to the North sea.

The Mounth from Glas Maol

Our 8th and final Munro of our 2 days of walking remained, so we left the summit of Glas Maol with a spring in our step, pleased at our efforts over the past 30-or-so hours. This was by far the most frustrating summit of the 4 with a couple of down-and-up sections and some boulders and scree to cross on the way up and down from the summit.

Final ascent

We didn’t let this get to us though and around 50 minutes after leaving Glas Maol, we reached the summit of Creag Leacach. As with all of these hills, the views across the Mounth Plateau and the Southern Cairngorms were superb. It was also possible to pick out the Perthshire Munros were we’d been the day before.

Southern Cairngorms from Creag Leacach

With a couple of smiling faces, we retraced our steps back to the shoulder of Glas Maol before branching off to follow a narrow path that contours the hillside and heads for the Ski Centre. The wind died and the heat intensified as we dropped height and in a way we were glad to have had the breeze as otherwise it could have been an altogether more sweaty affair than it had been!

Heading back to the Ski Centre

Just above the Ski Centre car park, we joined on to one of the many access roads that zig-zag across the hillside. From here it was a simple descent to the southern end of the large car park and then a hop along the road to reach the car once again.

We managed the route in 5hrs 45mins after a total of 12.5 miles and 1175m of ascent. Very pleased with our efforts over the past 2 days, we set off on the long drive home chatting about all the potential adventures to come over the remaining summer months and beyond!

One Comment Add yours

  1. Rosie says:

    Great photos 🙂 I did this route last week (though starting from and ending at the car park near Sean Spittal Bridge) and wished there had been more of a breeze. That stretch up to Carn an Tuirc was sweaty work!

    Liked by 1 person

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