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Postby HamishJ » Sat Apr 14, 2012 1:16 am

Route description: Schiehallion

Munros included on this walk: Schiehallion

Date walked: 02/04/2012

Time taken: 3 hours

Distance: 10 km

Ascent: 711m

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A Wonderful day in the Mist

With my wife otherwise engaged in Pitlochry I had 6 hours to myself: what to do?

For some years we have had friends in Kinlochrannoch, and every time we had gone to visit them I had looked at the 'Big Pointy Thing' and said (outloud), "One day I'll have you." Well, that day had arrived. With something along these lines in mind I already had dogs (2), maps, compass, boots, stick, grub, water and daysack in the back of the car.

Dialling the Braes of Foss car park into the SatNav we were off. Arriving and getting ready, it was a fine day (for April in Perthshire - overcast with (a little) sun) and I could just see the top, well the top ridge anyway. There were two other cars in the car park. We went through the turnstyle and onto the track: first thing to mention - as I subsequently read in the 'Walkhighlands' description of the route - the existing track is not that shown on the map but....it was going the right way and as I could see the track going up the mountain and the track I was on seemed to be going in that direction I followed it. This was confirmed when I got to the track junction at the bottom of the mountain - the old track was then apparent coming in from the north.

Still, the track up the mountain was well-defined so, with a quick check on the map and bearing on the compass we went on:: second thing to say - the track on the ground is not that marked on the map (again confirmed by subsequent reading of the route!). But I could see it going up and up and up so,never one to look a gift-horse in the mouth, we went on. After about 20 minutes ( and a particularly steep bit) I was having a quick break when an elderly couple passed on the path on the way down - had they been to the top? 'Yes'. Was the weather clear? 'Yes, in parts.' 'What was that sunny bit over there?' I rather thought it was over Glen Garry and the Drumochter Pass: 'Oh well, perhaps another day, we're off back to Aberfeldy for tea!'. Onwards and upwards.

At about 1500ft I hit the cloud base - thin mist, visibility 100m but, thinks I, maybe it'll clear or maybe I'll come out the other side. After another 20 minutes or so I met a father and son (well-equipped) coming down. Had they been to the top? 'Yes, clear in patches.' Father gave me a good description of the route up, paths, cairns etc: son, even better - 'After the big cairn its ****, boulders all the way and slippery as ****. Well, now I know what I'm in for and (2 cars in the car park) I am on my own. Still, the path is good - until I get to the cairn. Then it disappears - or, for all I know, it may still be there only I couldn't see it - the clag was now well-and-trully down with visibility down to 5 yards. Now, thinks I, is the time to check all those map-reading skills that you learned on the MLs course: compass and map in hand and marching on a bearing across slippy boulders (with the occasional confirmatory glance at the GPS for an 8-figure grid ) we progressed.

At 1000m (on the GPS) it started to snow; at 1020m and about 300m to go the snow was driving and horizontal - at that point I decided discretion was the better part of valour, I could hardly see my hand in front of me and the dogs were not enjoying it. We turned round and went back.

As per usual, although the treck up was hard the trip down was a nightmare on the thighs. We dropped out of the cloud at about 500m and found an old shooting butt off the north of the track - off kit and rest and a bite to eat for all of us and take time to gaze about - wonderful! Then on down to the car, dry gear, a towel for the dogs and off to the Moulin Inn for a pint and a dram. In the bar a local asked where I had been: I said, 'Schiehallion, up and down in three hours.' He replied,' Normally takes 2.'

No pictures because of the weather (who wants to see pictures of mist?) but I still had a cracking afternoon, tested some skills and once again proved the old adage: it doesn't matter what the weather is like when you start - ALWAYS take the proper kit. Unfortunately, again because of the visibilty, I cannot give any descriptions of views or salient points on the route - what I can say is, my compliments to the John Muir Trust for the work they have done on the path - terrific!
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Re: Schiehallion

Postby Paula Hubens » Sat Apr 14, 2012 10:27 pm

It's in the bag now, good job!
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Re: Schiehallion

Postby ScottishLeaf » Sun Apr 15, 2012 3:54 pm

Did Schiehallion a couple of weeks ago, when summer visited for it's two week holiday. The boulder field was awkward even then, not sure how I'd have coped with zero visibilty and horizontal snow! The views are good though, you'll need to go back next time you're at KLR.
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