Standing on its own in the heart of Scotland, the giant lump of Schiehallion can be name dropped from hills all over the Highlands. Viewed end-on from west or east it pretends to be a classic cone, and looks its best as a picturesque backdrop looming above the wooded shores of Loch Rannoch or Loch Tummel. But that's a bit of a con. The mountain is really a single drawn-out ridge, several kilometres long, steep-sided and almost uniformly regular in shape. Thanks to its isolation and symmetry Schiehallion was famously used in 1774 to gauge the mean density of the Earth by painstakingly measuring the mountain's gravitational pull on a pendulum. For their sums the tweed-coated boffins had to calculate the volume and density of their mountain; and so the contour line was born. Nowadays most people just climb Schiehallion for the view, which is as all-encompassing as its location, height and independence suggests. I'm tempted to suggest that the best thing about Schiehallion is distance itself - whether you're looking out from it at a great swathe of mountains, or recognising its lines from an unexpectedly far-flung viewpoint. Following a purpose-built path, the trade route from Braes of Foss is the most popular way up and back down, and barely needs a route description. However a circuit is generally better than a linear route, and the one described here takes you along Schiehallion's full length from west to east. The Braes of Foss path might be busy year round, but the rest of the hill is almost deserted by contrast, which is always a bonus in my book. Pick a clear day and the point of plodding up Schiehallion will be obvious.
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Distance: 7.63 miles (12.28 km)
Total ascent: 728m
Steepest Gradient: 36% (1 in 3)
Time: 4 – 5 hours (Walking)
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SummitsSchiehallion 1083 m
Braes of Foss car park (pay and display), NN752557
Pitlochry or Aberfeldy
Tarmac at first, then pathless heather and boggy bits leading to a steep ascent on the west ridge. Rocky ground on the summit ridge, then a long easy descent on a made path.
A great winter hillwalking trip, just far and high enough for full seasonal value but without being too gruelling. The steep rocky ground up top is pleasantly airy, but nothing to daunt a competent winter walker.
Weather and Hill Conditions: mwis: Cairngorms & Monadhliath – Met Office: East Highlands
Bus from Pitlochry to Tummel Bridge (see http://www.travelinescotland.com/journeyplanner/timetableplanner/displayIjpTimetableDetails.do?rid=1384178803234&hss=jU1NC162809581 ) then approach over foothills or use your thumb on the road.
The Braes of Foss path features in all the usual Munro books, but most make only a passing reference to the west ridge.
OS Explorer 386 (1:25,000), OS Landranger 52 (1:50,000), OS Landranger 51 (1:50,000), OS Landranger 42 (1:50,000) Directory Listings:
Find more Listings near this route Tourist info:
Aberfeldy (01887 820276); Pitlochry (01796 472215)
by Dan Bailey UKH