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Schiehallion - Fairy Hill of the Caledonians....and Students

PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2012 11:23 am
by GillC
Munro # 20 - Check. Ever since venturing over the Carn Gorm Horseshoe early last year, Schiehallion has been on the radar. Our original plan was to do the AE ridge in Glencoe but this is now booked for July, so for my Birthday weekend walk, I chose Schiehallion. Fantastic choice.

As ever, when a Munro of over 1000mtrs has a starting point of 300mtrs,,I do feel as though Im cheating slightly. (is that just me?) This is an amazing hill and we picked an even more amazing day to climb it.

We left Glasgow before 8, took the Lochearnhead route instead of nipping up the A9 and arrived at Braes of Foss in book time of a few mins over 2 hrs. Gorgeous morning for the long drive up Loch Tay.

When we arrived, the car park was already buzzing with car loads getting kitted up. We had seen the snow capped hill from several angles on the way in and it looked amazing against the blue sky, dotted with clouds.
Its a sign Margaret, A SIGN!!!
Target for the day

The John Muir Trust have invested money and time in developing a new path, away from the old, overused route direct from the car park. The resulting path is dry, good going, and limits the damage to the grassy/heather covered low level.
Looking north east from the smashing John Muir Trust path

The weather forecast today was for gusty winds but to remain dry. So far, with some cloud building, we had amazing views in all directions, most of the hills within view were snow capped and Scotland was looking coolio,,a day to make you smile.
just a wee icing on the top

There were several small parties heading up the path some few hundred yards behind us and we could see at least 2 larger groups ahead, they seemed to spend a lot of time standing still. More on them in a bit.

The path from ground level passes some sheep pens on the left,,someone had the foresight to pitch their tent there,,maybe getting some respite from high winds. You can see how this section of land is open to sweeping winds, no real shelter from surrounding hills and we passed several purpose built shelters/walls on the way up.
Margaret, a peak and a stone wall!
Thus far, the forecasted winds had not appeared.

We then started to climb and the next mile or so was pretty much up, up, oh and up. Good opportunity to practice langsam (LAHNG-zahm),,,German musical term , used by the military to regulate progress,,,basically keep a regular, SLOW! beat to walk to,,great way to make progress smoothly.

We encountered the two large parties I referred to earlier, on several occasions. Appeared to be a group of about 20, very probably students and some in rather unsuitable attire,,some kind of bet, dare? we had Sherlock Homes, complete in deerstalker and dble cape, a young man in a pin stripe suit, shirt and tie, Lara Croft, a red devil, bloke in a heavy leather bike jacket,,girls carrying handbags, with bare arms, legs etc and with the temperature dropping all the time, I hope they had more suitable clothing in their back packs. Although im happy to see younger folk out enjoying the hills, they began to get a big frustrating. Wont dwell on it but they would do that "young people" thing,,bolt on, almost running for a bit then all stop dead,,on the path, forcing others off (particulary tricky on the snowy sections when we had to skirt round into deeper snow) We would no sooner pass the static bunch,,than they would all come bounding past again,,cutting us up like boy racers in a souped up Saxo lol :lol:

Anyway,,enough of my Grumpy Old Woman rant.
isnt she small??
.....I may be some time!

As the path fades and the lunar landscape spreads out in front, there was a tendency to follow previously made footprints in the snow but there is really no defined path here,,spread out,,use it all,,thats what its there for hehe.
Margaret approaching the snow fields...
Part of the human chain on the way up

The rocks make for some fab scrambling, the snow makes it quite tricky as you dont know whats underneath,,more rock? solid ground? A BIG HOLE? so we tiptoed our way up, taking in some fantastic views across the miles around.
ominous clouds over a fine view
Snow, rocks, snow,,rocks,,snow,,,,you getting the idea? If you look closely near the first top here too,,LOTS of people.

On the more exposed parts of the South East side of the hill, we had some blowy wind,,but nothing of any scale but all round us, we could see amazing ice formations all over the rocks, made my snow, ice and wind.
Little icy feathers created by the wind.
very dramatic - beautiful!

As we approached the top, I almost broke out into a run ( ...beat....the ...young ....people :shock: )

Made it to the top a little after 12, only 4-5 others there. Touched the understated, almost hidden cairn, then found a wee rocky ledge on the south face, overlooking Carn Gorm and Lawers, flasks out and first use of my wee foam foldup 'seat', now firmly stamped with shape of Gill,,lol
Look at me ma,,,top of the world!

Within 2 minutes we were literally swamped by those pesky students. Think I may finally have achieved invisibility! We decided to move away off the top to the West end of the peak, same move mirrored by a chap from Hampshire who had until the hordes arrived, been enjoying a solitary moment.

We had lunch,, shared some chat with some other walkers, discussed which hills we could see and how many we could name, could even see right up Glen Coe, the Buichaille looked positively dwarfed against the surrounding hills. Spent an hour on the top,,almost unknown for us but conditions were just so good,,hat and gloves on by now,,along with windproof jacket as the temperature wasnt much above freezing. The Nevis range was totally shrouded in snow. Heading up there on 11th May,,so hoping it clears enough for us to make it over the CMD.
Views over the the Nevis Range

Twa happy burds ,,,Ben Lawers behind us (i think)

On our way off the hill,, we had a wee moment to send a word to the powers that be. Margaret has a friends whos son is being treated in the Schiehallion ward in Yorkhill Childrens Hospital. Wee Jack is fighting a nasty and this one was for him. God bless the wee chap. Positive thoughts folks, positive thoughts.

A real up-beat day, couldnt have wished for better. Now, CMD/Nevis on 11th May,,,fingers crossed we get the weather we had for this one.

Re: Schiehallion - Fairy Hill of the Caledonians....and Stud

PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2012 3:19 pm
by quoman
Hi GillC,
nice walk this hill is looks like you had a good laugh up there. i would have liked to see the student in the handbags :lol:

Re: Schiehallion - Fairy Hill of the Caledonians....and Stud

PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2012 3:28 pm
by GillC
Thanks Quoman (we didnt want to take pictures in an obvious way but managed to get one of Sherlock)
Elementary ......

Love your profile pic..I once chucked my bra at Quo in the Glasgow Apollo.MANY moons ago :lol: :shock: :lol:

Re: Schiehallion - Fairy Hill of the Caledonians....and Stud

PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2012 5:08 pm
by quoman
:lol: :lol: :lol: I was probably there the pic was taken about 3 years ago when they played scone palace in perth i was about 50 feet away i took about 160 pic's :lol:

Re: Schiehallion - Fairy Hill of the Caledonians....and Stud

PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2012 7:45 pm
by Jock McJock
Nice report and pics. Heading up CMD way on Tuesday, weather permitting, I'll post on here about the snow etc if we do it :D

Re: Schiehallion - Fairy Hill of the Caledonians....and Stud

PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2012 9:42 pm
by GillC
Thanks Jock,,im concerned there may be too much snow, let me know,,cheers. G

Re: Schiehallion - Fairy Hill of the Caledonians....and Stud

PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2012 8:42 pm
by Jim McK
Great report - just done Carn Mairg circuit and Schiehallion looked great - definitely one of the next on my hit list - hope I get a day like yours!