March 2008, 2 adults, 2 kids (12/13), dog leading out...
We'd been in the area in the camper (looking at Etape Caledonia route), and decided to nip up Schiehallion. There was no snow in the parking lot, but big fields up high, and a fair amount of cloud - boots, gaiters, hats, gloves and shoftshells on, waterproofs, lunch and the shelter packed. Map and compass never got out of my top....
As we were leaving the van, the car park suddenly filled, and several families and small groups headed up the hill in front and behind, but never too close and it never felt crowded. We did think the family with youngsters (5 & 8?) mostly in shorts and trainers were taking it a little casual...
We stuck to the recommended John Muir trust path like good little injuns, and a very nice path it is too - a little manicured in places, but well built and easy walking, certainly onto the lower shoulder. There were some great views of the faster walkers up on the snow covered ridge as we approached the hill. The path was pleasant underfoot in spite of the snow melt that must have been coming off... From where we crossed the low shoulder, I can't comment on the path as we were mostly walking over snow, or hopping across boulders! Initially moderate fields of snow linked with exposed sections, gradually filling in with snow, we plodded upwards in the tracks of those ascending before us. After the second snowfield, we met "that family" retreating, wet, cold, but amazingly happy, with the kids wearing the adults tops.
We saw that coming
As we climbed the ridge and approached the top, we encountered a nice false summit - the bane of my daughters hillwalks - and it opened to a steady tromp over the snow covered boulders, and flattish top (watch your footing!) to the summit (sort of like a mini Ben Nevis top - keep gong!) with a few other folks. I needed my sunglasses not so much for the sun as to stop the wind driven ice particles from ripping out my contacts, so after a quick photo out came the shelter for an early lunch, and then we left fast... retreating the same way we arrived, and watching in awe as a man and son went north off the summit, which by now was back in cloud, to drop down off the path. We had great fun sliding, rolling and snowballing our way over the snow fields, and generally playing the fools, until; we rejoined the path. Usual pictures of people up to their groin in snow having gone through a hole... and struggling to get back out!
It has to be said that Schiehallion is not really a very interesting walk (I don't favour out and back routes at the best of times), but with the snow on the ground and cloud scudding in and about, the views when open were lovely, and the walk easy - nothing complicated, and a very simple four hours. A good hill for young families (but please be prepared for the weather!).
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Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.