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Shenanigans on Schiehallion 

Ever since my dad had ‘done’ Schielhallion a few years back I had been quite keen to attempt it but as I hadn’t done any ‘real’ climbing before this year, I had been hesitant. I could pronounce it so that was a bonus. Spelling it, that was another matter…

I met my walking buddy in Strathblane and off we headed in Harvey RV along the very scenic route via Callander parking at Braes of Foss carpark (£2 a day) The MET office weather forecast showed great conditions on the Saturday for Sunday although this did change Sunday morning. I searched other hills but all forecast the same.  Best stick with plan A.

A helpful chap arrived at the car park in a sign written van asking us if we had done this munro before, we told him we hadn’t and he handed us  a leaflet. As with every instruction leaflet i receive, i don’t look at it until the ‘task’ is done. Washing machines, fridges, mountains. All the same to me. As it turns out it was a great read about the munro and the John Muir Trust. The car park also has loos which is a bonus. I wish more people had taken advantage of these facilities instead of abandoning tissue paper along the way… Why do people litter the hills (or anywhere outside for that matter: country or city) take a plastic bag with you. However, on seeing these white tissue piles, we knew we on the right track of civilisation.

These pictures below are in the correct order… See, visibility not too bad


Ghostly visions appearing from the mist…


Two thirds of the path are very clear and beautifully maintained and those same two thirds remained with very good visibility. We couldn’t see the top of Schiehallion but the route up was clear. We climbed, frequently turning around in search of a view. The delicate mist blew across in ghostly sheets leaving us suddenly cold and in awe of this spooky happening. Pictures taken got fewer and fewer with the total lack of the usual stunning panoramas.

The best attempt of a ‘ghostly sheet’ i could get…

The path ended and rocks happened. Rocks turned into boulders which turned into rocks then back to boulders. What a climb. Now, bearing in mind that Schielhallion is meant to be the easiest Munro, the rocks, as well as the heavy mist should have put a dampener on the journey but everything enhanced each other. I’m sure I’m the only ‘odd ball’ that could have put such a positive slant on a hill climb but I really did enjoy the ascent. And I’m not even a ‘glass half full’ kind of girl usually… Something in the air I’m sure. Many a helpful (but miserable) face descending assisted us in the right direction and at this point, I did feel a little bit foolish for not being better organised. I had my map. I had my compass. I had done a hill navigation course. Hmmm. Should have practised before this mischievous misty mountain… With my knowledge, wisdom and expertise I did know that once there was no more hill to climb, we had arrived at the top…


The total climb in the mist was actually fab once my half-hearted concerns had passed. It was eerily quiet. I’ve never experienced serenity on a hill before. No vast crowds, no billowing wind. Peace and quiet with the earie landscape of rocks and boulders. It was like walking on another planet. So surreal. So stunningly beautiful. I’m glad my walking buddy knows me well enough to realise I’m not having a breakdown when I recite my emotional thoughts and random artistic  observations. Thank you Jacqueline…


Obligatory trainer shot…


When does a cairn become a house…? I imagine a very welcome sight when the weather blows across…


We did eventually run out of climb and arrived safely at the top making our way to the cutest cairn we had seen all day. We ate our lunch, took pictures and avoided even more abandoned tissues.


At one point a crowd of 6 appeared in the mist and asked ‘is this it?’.  Never had a more genuine and heart felt question been asked but she had a point. There was no flat grassy resting place, no little corner of your own that every other mountain seems to have commissioned as a specification for ‘munro’ status… Just flatter and larger boulders. Also joining us on our dining experience was a father / son / dog trio. The son was walking Munros to total the height of Everest for his football charity. The 8 of us had a whip-round towards his good cause, wished them well and we started the descent. I wanted to keep up with the crowd of 6, safety in numbers and all that but we were quickly separated due to my half-speed-knees. We got a bit lost. I got a bit scared, fell over twice. ‘Tit over arse’ I think is the phrase with no injury except pride. We retraced our steps and the ghostly trio were heading towards us pointing us to the right route. They lead the direction, respectfully keeping a distance staying close enough to ensure we were safely on the path.

Just as we got to the bottom of Schiehallion, the sky’s opened and it poured. Heavily. A big mug of tea in the van helped with the very dull journey home on the A9. Next time I’ll stick with the more scenic route home again.

As much as this walk sounds awful, I loved every minute (apart from the getting lost bit, let’s forget that bit) My lunch was crap, walking pole broke, twisted my ankle, got rained on, was cold.. I can’t wait to do it again but next time Mr Schiehallion, can you provide some blue sky…?


Feel free to Ramble on down to my Facebook page, Rambling Scotland where i will post videos and other snippets. I also welcome other bloggers and ramblers to share their stories and pictures

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