Schiehallion – The Fairy Hill of the Caledonians

If there’s a starter Munro to do asides from the mighty Ben Lomond, it’s got to be Schiehallion (pronounced she-hal-eein) in Perthshire. It’s a stunner of a mountain with an unorthodox, Ben-less title. In Scots lore it was known as the Fairy Hill of the Caledonians. How braw is that? A wee while ago my good buddy and Instigator-of-Shenanigans-in-Chief, Kelda and I decided to go in search of “faith and trust and pixie dust”. So, armed with provisions of sandwiches, pretzels and plenty of water, off we ventured. This is us at the start of the journey, just re-realising how big a Munro is. Oof!

Schiehallion path

After you park at the Braes of Foss, do take my advice and go to the loo. It’s a long way up there! From here there’s a clear path which takes you across some splendid greenery before you arrive at the information plaque. It has some incredible facts including how Schiehallion was used to measure the weight of the world and how contour lines on Ordnance Survey maps were developed from work done here. The path is very clearly marked all the way up the foothills and gets steep and windy-windey in places.  It’s all pretty much this kind of clear terrain for two-thirds of the mountain until you get to …

Schiehallion foothillsSchiehallion path

… Scrambly Rock! Our affectionate nick-name for the massive, white boulder section that starts to emerge as the path disappears. These big, muckle, quartzites began to slow down our progress a bit as you really need to consider your footing and in my case, just how wise it actually was to wear trainers rather than walking boots! But onwards we soldiered on and we had certainly picked the day for it ie it was June in Scotland and wasn’t raining! Check out the views back down to Loch Tummel. Bonnie.

Schiehallion

We were a bit devvo’d to discover that our fairy friends must have been hiding, but I did see a Golden Retriever which are like the Fairy Queens and Kings of the dug world to me. Therefore, at least I was chuffed.

Golden Retriever pervin'

In true Munro style, the summit – with it being a ridge mountain – seems to never appear and there’s plenty more boulders to contend with. However, when you finally reach the top after hoofin’ it up 3,553 ft and realise that you are now on the legendary, conical pinnacle, it’s definitely time to strike some hero poses.

Schiehallion summitSchiehallion summit

Before parking yer bum doon for a well-earned rest and a nice cold beer – Schiehallion, naturally.

Schiehallion summit  Schiehallion summit

Then, simply sit back, relax and enjoy the rare views aw’ aboot ye. Oh, and mind and keep yer eye oot for thon fairies!

Schiehallion summit

How to get there:

From the A9 road either heading north or south. 2 options are available.

  1. Take the turn off at Little Dunkeld for the A822 Old Military Road. Keep going until the junction and then turn right onto the A826 until you get to Aberfeldy. From there take the B846 which takes you past the magnificently titled, Dull whose US twin town is … Boring. Love this fact so much! Keep following the signs for Braes of Foss and Boab’s yer Uncle 😉
  2. Take the turn off at Ballinluig and follow the A827 to Aberfeldy, then take the B846 as mentioned above and follow the signs.

As always, here’s a handy map to help you find your way.

Top 5 Interesting Facts About Schiehallion

  1. There is a cave on the South-West foothills of the mountain which is indeed, known as ‘The Fairy Cave!’ Legend has it that fairies loved to dwell there and were joined at times by mortals.
  2. Schiehallion is also known as the Heart of Scotland as it’s believed that it’s the central point of our country.
  3. Behind Schiehallion on Creag Chionneachan, is one of the spots where the souls of the Fingalian warriors were supposed to lie awaiting the third blast of the horn that was to raise them to life again.
  4. The Schiehallion Experiment was conducted by Astronomer Royal, Neville Maskelyne in 1774. It sought to calculate the mean density of the earth. Schiehallion was deemed perfect for this as it was almost symmetrical and isolated from other mountains nearby. In this way, it was free of other mountains gravitational influence and would be easier to calculate. Learn more about it all in this wee video.
  5. Charles Hutton who surveyed the mountain was one of the the pioneers of modern day, contour lines on maps. It was during the Schiehallion Experiment that these were first used. Find out more about it all here.

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This post is dedicated with so much love to the memory of my dear friend and epic adventurer, Kelda Henderson. I’m so happy that we found the heart of Scotland together.

“Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.” – Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie.

There’s a part of you that will always be there.

Schiehallion summit

 

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