An evocatively named mountain of instantly recognisable contours that has beguiled walkers for centuries, hikes to Schiehallion’s historic summit take you to an icon of the Southeastern Highlands. A magnificent, isolated cone when seen from west, it is an instantly recognisable peak from many vantages.
A prominent mountain of rich historic interest
In 1774, due to its almost symmetrical shape and isolation, Schiehallion was the subject of a ground-breaking experiment to determine the mass of the Earth by Astronomer Royal, Nevil Maskelyne. The experiment centred around the idea that Schiehallion’s known mass would have a perceptible gravitational attraction on objects and that this effect could be measured. The data was then used to calculate the mass of the Earth.
Maskelyne was assisted in his work by Charles Hutton, who set about calculating the mass of the mountain by triangulating its height at various points. The result of this study was the birth of contour lines. You have Schiehallion to thank for this particularly useful navigational aid we take for granted today.
Most walking routes to Schiehallion’s summit begin from the Braes of Foss car park and ascend via a popular path up the east ridge, although rougher, pathless ascents are possible with considered route planning.
From the top, the view is extensive in all directions. Perhaps the highlight is the distant Glen Etive and Glen Coe mountains rising beyond Rannoch Moor to the west. The Lawers group dominate the view south, with eastern Loch Tay sparkling in the sun on a good day. To the north east, the wild, rounded forms of the Cairngorms roll into the distance, snow-capped in the colder months.
There are various camping options in the surrounding countryside, whilst guest houses and all manner of lodges can also be found around the towns of Pitlochry and Aberfeldy.
In winter conditions, Schiehallion’s great height makes it an objective for equipped mountaineers only.
From the west the mountain appears as an almost perfect pyramid. In reality it’s a long, tapered hill, which climbs smoothly and conveniently to a narrow, elevated summit. It was once used to weigh the world, fairies are rumoured to gather on its slopes, and it’s sometimes described as the centre of Scotland.
December 13, 2019
This is a do-able Munro but you have to be aware of a number of things. At the summit the weather can be completely different to how it was at ground level. Layer up and have a rucksack large enough to hold all that you will need. This was October and a light jumper was all that was needed at the start. At the summit there was a howling gale and according to the mountain weather forecast the wind chill was -10.One further thing is the wearing of stout footwear. The last mile is uphill (naturally) however it is only done by clambering over boulders. There is no other route possible, so be ready to clamber and look for good footing as you move. Most are stable but there is the odd one that moves underfoot so be acutely aware of your balance. But the last thing is ENJOY!
October 23, 2020
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