Away with the Fairies

Schiehallion, the Fairy Hill of the Caledonians, is one of the classic mountains of Scotland and its pleasing contours grant a superb walk. However it is a tougher route than many may first realise as Schiehallion’s upper reaches are boulder-strewn and awkward to cross.

However, almost from the off, the views across much of Perthshire and the Central Highlands are exquisite, extending to the southern fringes of the Cairngorms as height is gained and there is much flora and fauna to witness throughout this walk. Steep drops descend from 3 sides of Schiehallion, drawing the eyes west along the sparking waters of Kinloch Rannoch to the mighty Bridge of Orchy and Glencoe mountains. To the southwest the 5 Munros encompassing the Ben Lawers massif dominate the immediate vista with the conspicuous shape of Ben Vorlich and Stuc a Chroin beyond and finally Ben More and the distinctive Stob Binnien on the horizon.

East Schiehallion was lived on and cultivated some 3000 years ago but since 1988 the John Muir Trust has cared for it as well as Gleann Mor – the area forms part of the Loch Rannoch and Glen Lyon National Scenic Area. Over the years 20,000 pairs of feet annually left a huge scar on Schiehallion’s slopes (an eyesore some 90 feet across at some points) but the John Muir Trust realigned the main path as well as encouraging natural regeneration of native woodland by controlling deer and sheep numbers.

Its symmetrical shape (best seen from the shores of Loch Rannoch) has seen it take on iconic status as well as being the reason why Schiehallion became the setting for the astronomer Reverend Dr. Nevil Maskelyne’s 1774 ‘weighing the world’ experiment. Of even greater interest to hillwalkers, Schiehallion was where the English mathematician Charles Hutton first developed the concept of contour lines, which aided Maskelyne’s research, and generations of walkers since.

Loch Tummel from the summit of Schiehallion
Loch Tummel from the summit of Schiehallion