The Cairnwell

The Cairnwell

Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 56.87948°N / 3.42089°W
Additional Information County: Aberdeen and Angus Border
Activities Activities: Mountaineering, Mixed, Scrambling, Skiing
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Elevation: 3061 ft / 933 m
Sign the Climber's Log


The Cairnwell is a Munro summit at 933metres
The Cairnwell from the A93 Glen SheeThe Cairnwell summit looks its best from Spittal of Glenshee


Some mountains are climbed because of their innate magic or beauty; others because of there technical challenges or for the views from the tops. But most who climb The Cairnwell, do so because it is close to the A93 Perth to Braemar road where the car parks to access it are already over 660metres - 2000ft. By common consent The Cairnwell and its neighbouring Munro summits of Carn a Gheoidh, and Carn Aosda make it the easiest group of Munros to do anywhere.

The Cairnwell is hard pressed to be called the prettiest. The corrie above the neighbouring ski centre has an extensive collection of ski fences, lifts, tracks and a host of other detritus of ski development: and this never looks good anywhere, out of season.

Once on the summit you find it is no prettier than the corrie. In that it is crowned with an extensive collection of concrete buildings along with 3 radio towers. The short climb of about 273metres if you ascend direct from the car park is worth the trip as the views from this summit are quite extensive. The view south towards the Spittal of Glenshee and beyond on a clear day is amazing with the water of Allt Ghlinne Bhig meandering in a silver streak down the valley. This is also an excellent spot to take in the views east towards the summits of Glas Maol and its much rockier southern neighbour, Creag Leacach.
The summit also commands good views north to north west of The Cairngorm summits. East to north east of Carn an Tuirc, Cairn of Claise with Lochnagar on a clear day in the background.

The Cairnwell Seen From Various Directions.

The Cairnwell From part up Glas Maol
The Cairnwell from part way up Glas Maol
The Cairnwell from A93 Ski centre

As mentioned previous the summit is crowned with 3 radio towers.
I find these interesting but that is only because I work in the industry.
Other people look at them as an eyesore a blotch on the landscape.
I am not sure on this but these could be the highest radio towers above sea level in Scotland.

(Anyone out there who knows of one higher correct me if I am wrong and I will correct the page.)

These radio towers at 933metres AOD beat the highest radio towers I had visited before on the summit of Broad Law at 840metres by along way of 93metres.

The Summit Radio Towers.

Summit Tower-1
The summit towers
Summit tower-2

The Cairnwell can be combined into a Munro bagging day along with the much higher summit of Carn a Gheoidh at 973metres and the rather bland and ski lift smothered summit of Carn Aosda at 917metres.
Between the summits of The Cairnwell and Carn a Gheoidh is a route round the top of a fantastic corrie dominated by the crags of Creag a’ Choire Dhirich.

The steep crags of Creag a’ Choire Dhirich from The Cairnwell.

Creag a  Choire Dhirich

Below Are Some Pictures Of Other Summits that are also Visible From The Cairnwell.

These are also on my Summits from Summits album


Below is a 1:50.000 map of The Cairnwell.

Site 1:50.000 Scale Map1:50.000 section of Ordnance Survey map of The Cairnwell

The above map shows how close this summit is to the main A93 Perth to Braemar road.
The best map to use for this area is the Ordnance Survey 1:25:000 Explorer Map sheet 387 Glen Shee & Braemar.
The other map to use is the Ordnance Survey 1:50.000 Landranger Map sheet 43 Braemar & Blair Atholl.

Whilst on my ascent up The Cairnwell I took some unusual arty type pictures which I think make a difference to just summits.

Arty type pictures whilst on The Cairnwell.

Getting There

(WARNING) There is only one road in and out of this area.

The main A93.
This road links Perth and Aberdeen.
From Aberdeen you head west off the main A90 bypass through to Braemar via Banchory, Ballater then Braemar where you head south up through Glen Clunie to the ski centres and associated parking areas to access the summit from.
From Perth you head north from the city centre through to Blairgowrie and Spittal of Glenshee then north again up through Glenshee to the ski centres and associated parking areas to access the summit from.
It is from this route where The Cairnwell really shows its best shape as seen in the title page picture.
In the worst weather cases the A93 can be impossible to pass as they close the snow gates at Spittal of Glenshee and Braemar. This does not happen very often as the Scottish road maintenance teams do a good job of trying to keep there traffic flowing.
As stated though this is the only road to access this summit…
Nearest train stations are Perth and Aberdeen.
Nearest airports are Aberdeen and Edinburgh.

Access and Red Tape

No access issues here.

Routes up can be direct from the car par park or follow the ski centre slopes and lifts to the top.

Free to roam applies here.

Camping / Bed and Breakfasts

Accommodation is available in the following towns that are all based along the A93.
Blairgowrie, Braemar, Ballater, Aboyne and Banchory.
These towns are all lovely places to stay for bed and breakfast and all have pubs for grub and drinks.
Camping is available along the valleys on open verges next to the main roads and out on the summits. Respect the country take all your litter home and don’t have fires…!

Weather and External Links

The weather here if doing just The Cairnwell should not if you are prepared for it have any problems as getting off the summit is relatively easy via the ski centre slopes and lifts.
Also being as close to the road it is not the sort of summit to get lost on.

But if you are combining its neighbours of Carn a Gheoidh and Carn Aosda then it can be a different matter. When head off from The Cairnwell to Carn a Gheoidh the area becomes a lot more wild and isolated so from here care is to be taken. Plan your route and be prepared for changes in the weather of all sorts.

Plenty of The Cairnwell information from this page and lots more about the area deeper within the web-site.


Weather forecasts are available from the above and below links

BBC 5-Day weather (Braemar)

BBC 5-Day weather (Blairgowrie)

These are the two nearest towns that the BBC 5-Day forecast covers.
They are not far from this summit so it is relatively accurate.

Glen Shee Ski Centre

Skiing In The Cairnwell and Glen Shee Mountains

Every Winter when the snow falls the ski centre is here for all of you who are into your extreme winter sports.

There are many ski runs here on The Cairnwell itself and the surrounding Summits.

More Information is Available via this link:-

Glenshee Ski Centre offers the UK's most extensive skiing and snowboarding facilities - we hope you will enjoy our mountains of adventure.
Glenshee - adventure in the making!

Glenshee's impressive 21 lifts and 36 runs offer an amazing diversity of natural terrain for all standards of skiers and snowboarders.

There are lots of options to choose from - you can join a class, go private, hire an instructor for your group, get into race training or simply take advantage of one of our great value package deals.

And of course in your spare time take a great stroll up onto the surrounding Munro Summits and take in the scenery of Scotland at its best when it is in the snow...

Ski Routes round The CairnwellArea showing some of the ski slopes

After A Winter DownfallArea after a downfall of snow... Wonderful



Children refers to the set of objects that logically fall under a given object. For example, the Aconcagua mountain page is a child of the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits.' The Aconcagua mountain itself has many routes, photos, and trip reports as children.