Another year ends with blue sky's and mild weather,which would normally be welcomed,but as my mate and i step out the door in the small hours,i had hoped for a slightly more wintry feel!.
It's the 2nd January and the party is over,the tree is down and the Xmas lights are gone to gather dust for another year. As the family sleep,were in the car leaving Fife for the drive up to Schiehallion, and what turns out to be the very busy car park at Braes of Foss.
Parked up and ticket bought,we smile with glee at the clear skies on this nippy morning,no wonder the car park is so busy,some never have good visibility when enjoying our hills but today looks to be exceptional.
Off we set,through the first gate and along the gentle path, lungs drawing in the frosty air,i can almost feel the extra ballast of party food i've consumed over the last fortnight with each step,but happy to be burning some off today at least!.
Ahead of us as the the might Schiehallion starts to rise,we can see what looks like a bag of skittles has been poured over her sunlight sides,all the multicolored fellow hikers making their way up, we trod on,passing some at slower pace,and some with small kids and a few happy dogs,they seem to love the frosty mornings.
The walking is easy,the path is dry for a change,we stop every 15 mins of so to re-hydrate and to marvel at the view ,on this cold but clear January morning the view is out of this world,and looking back at the car park we cannot believe the number of cars,seems everyone has the same idea this morning.
We reach the boulders,the dreaded boulders,which when dry and tricky enough,but this morning some in the shadows have an icy coating,so going is slow as we pick our way across them,with what seems like another 50 or so others!
And then i hear a young woman say ,Its like Sauchiehall street up here!, its brings a smile to my face and a few chuckles from others outwith her group,she is correct though,its the busiest I've seen a hill for a while,and all are in good spirits as we enjoy the views all around us.
The winds have picked up a little and the wind chill is biting, we shelter behind some big boulders at the summit and have a quick bite to eat and some coffee,its too cold to hang around not moving,the skinny summit is busy with others arriving also looking for a sheltered spot for lunch.
The walk down is easy once the boulders are crossed once again ,countless individuals,couples,families and their dogs are passed going the opposite way,heads are nodded in acknowledgement which is seldom done on the streets, but as per normal on the hills,like we belong to the same club or something,its a nice feeling and gives some sense that we would all help each other if needed,be it a plaster or a hand up after a wee slip.
Back at the car, boots and jackets off,trainers on, we leave for the two hour drive home as others park up, we talk how great it is to see so many of all ages and abilities enjoying their day on Schiehallion.
Is there any better place to be than the great outdoors,for me it clears the head and makes me feel alive and that i've achieved something.
Sitting that evening back at home with the fire on and a dram in hand, i raise a glass to Scotland,for she provides us great beauty and adventure, only a short drive away or less,all you have to do is look.
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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.