I last climbed this characterful munro back in July 2016 and what an experience that was. Visibility was poor and the mountain amateurs we were, found ourselves veering off track considerably during ascent and descent. It was only due to helpful fellow hill climbers to put us back on track again. On our safe arrival at the bottom, we realised how stupid that was to climb in those conditions with very minimal experience and I vowed to go back ‘one day’, with more experience and fitness levels, and catch those views everyone raved about. Don’t get me wrong, I loved every minute of that day, it was surreal, but quite dangerous if you have no idea what you are doing. If you want to read the full ‘moon landing’ experience, visit the short 5-minute read here (it’s mostly about the pictures!)
Fast forward 2 1/2 years and here I am again. A 4.45am pick up from north Glasgow, got us to the car park for a 7am start. Toilets were unlocked and a welcome sight after that long car journey. The forecast for the tops looked great but at ground level, I wasn’t so sure, the drive up to the Braes of Foss car park was interspersed with heavy cloud and snippets of blue sky.
After the usual shaky starts, you know those ones when you have no idea why you agreed to get up at such an ungodly hour, to climb a mountain, in the winter and after such a long drive. Where your legs hurt already and your lungs are struggling after only 20meters on the flat and you’re hungry before you leave the carpark and you wish that water didn’t weigh so much and you wonder how rude it would be to say that you’ll stay in the car… You know those starts, don’t you? No? Just me then… Anyway, we started our trek and although we couldn’t see the top of Schiehallion, I felt the forecast had been a tad optimistic and my prediction led me to believe that another moon landing experience was to be had. Vince kept optimistic, “just wait until we get above the clouds”, I kept my “aye rights” on silent and continued to walk along the very well-maintained path wishing I wasn’t so lazy in getting my hat from my pack.
It wasn’t too long before we rose above the cloud and my much-coveted inversion was revealed in all its mystical glory, its sole purpose seemed to be a soft landing for the sunrise should it fall. As far as the eye could see, cloud delicately embraced the land below, effortlessly keeping the mountain tops hidden to ground-bound folks. The wind was still. There was peace all around.
It was truly magical and I’d ticked another vision off my must-see list. Energy brimmed inside me, I forgot my thirst, my hunger, my cold head and ears and ran higher to catch a better view. (Now, when I say ‘ran’, I trotted about 8 steps further, let’s not get carried away with my dreamy memories here…)
The views were breathtaking, with the sunrise being the proverbial cherry of the fluffy, white cloud cake. That, we decided, is definitely a reason to get out of bed at 4.15am for; *note to self, “if we made it earlier, would this vision be even more striking?” I didn’t say my logic was stable… Must have been the altitude talking.
The journey from this point took in many stops to see the ever-changing view behind. This probably added another 2 hours to the whole walk but we were still home for tea! On arrival at the summit, 360degree views again took our breaths away. Schiehallion doesn’t have the most impressive landmark to tell you you’ve arrived but the views let you know there’s nowhere else to go.
What a day, and a relatively easy walk too but best done in good weather. Those views, irrespective of a cloud inversion, are what it’s all about. Now for some pictures…
Keep your eyes open for this at the summit too, don’t know the history but photogenic etchings none-the-less