Names mean different things to different people. Until I’d started getting into hillwalking, Schiehallion for me was a band that played in the Gellions Bar in Inverness on a Saturday afternoon – one I sometimes frequented after one of our ‘ladies who lunch but don’t know when to go home’ sessions.....
Once I started to educate myself on the runners and riders that made up our hillwalking options, Schiehallion had been on the to-do list. Not because of its link in my head to boozy Saturday afternoons doing a bit of a schottishe after too many glasses of vino collapso over lunch. No, it was more to do with the fact that Schiehallion offers a fairly easy climb for us novices. (Now we’re just about out of easy hills and the time is almost upon us to make a start on some of the hills that have ridges and things. Gulp.)
Anyhoo, our original plan was to camp on the Friday night and head up bright and breezy on the Saturday morning, but given the overnight temperature was forecast to be akin to spending the night in an industrial freezer (even the hardiest penguin would’ve sought out a room with a radiator) we canned that idea and left early doors instead.
We made average speed down the A9 and managed to follow all the directions correctly (something we usually have difficulty with) and arrived at the car park at 9.45am. It seemed the beautiful sunny day had brought the world and his wife and then some out in force. It was like Paddy’s market in the car park and we found it a challenge to find somewhere to park the car, eventually managing to squeeze him into a space more suitable for a shopping trolley. The hassle of finding somewhere to park however, was removed when we realised the car park had toilets – deep joy.
There’s not really much narrative I can add about the climb that others haven’t already set down in previous reports. A really nice flat walk in was welcome after a couple of hours sitting in the car and a nice gentle climb on a great path suited my current lack of fitness down to the ground. This is a great hill for those making their first foray into hillwalking, or for those who aren’t as fit as they could or should be (pot. kettle. black......)
The path more or less disappears when you find yourself at the edge of a very large boulder field which stands between you and the summit. I don't think there's any way round it. You just have to pick your own way across. I really enjoy boulder hopping, so that section didn’t put me up nor down, but some folks that we stopped to pass the time of day with found it a bit of pain and it’s an easy place to turn an ankle or worse, so go ca canny if you feel the need. I find it easier to navigate the boulders without my walking pole, but my friend Elaine is the opposite, so it's very much horses for courses.
Elaine and I diverged at one bit where I decided to head up through a wee snow field (you can see it in the photo above). Although I didn't mind the boulders, it was a welcome break and it was great fun until my calf muscles started to scream blue murder at me. Note earlier reference to lack of fitness......
We reached the summit sooner than I expected (that rarely happens) and I would describe it as compact and bijou.......the throng of folk at the top made it difficult to find a wee perch. Elaine spotted a wee grassy ledge down to the left of the cairn and we plonked ourselves down to eat our pieces and enjoy the views.
We didn't linger long at the top as it was so busy and the clouds were starting to roll in. We returned the way we came, making quick work of the boulder field and then once on the fantastic path, fuelled by a bag of wine gums, it was warp factor 8 back to the car which we reached in no time.
So, a fine day out, on an easy, enjoyable hill with great views and the legs didn’t grumble too much the following day. It’s always a bonus not having to deploy the hoist to get one out of bed post mountain climbing.
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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.