A Fine Winter’s day: Schiehallion

A great winter’s day on Schiehallion, a very popular Munro in Perthshire. Although the weather was calm and reasonably cloudless, the conditions weren’t really “wintery”, with only a small dusting of snow, meaning once again crampons and ice axes were carried but not needed. Still, great conditions made for a brilliant and easy-going day out bagging my 35th Munro.

[February 2019]

Being in Perthshire rather than around the Loch Lomond area, the drive to the start of our walk was slightly further than usual. This did allow for a wee breakfast stop at Subway on the A9, which definitely hits the spot before a day in the hills. We arrived at the Braes of Foss car park around 0930 after the 2.5 hour drive from home. Conditions were good – the cloud was reasonably high, there was very little wind and the car park had a few cars but wasn’t anywhere near full.

We set off just before 1000, making our way through a gate where there’s a wee sign with information about the hill and the surrounding area, before following the good path which goes all the way to the summit.

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The start of our adventure

The going was easy and enjoyable, with a gentle enough gradient to keep up a good pace without feeling knackered, so we made good progress up the hill, pausing to take in the beautiful panoramic views north towards the Atholl mountains.

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Easy walking
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Looking north towards the Atholl mountains

The views got better and better as we climbed. Just over an hour into our day, we reached the first sections of snow, but this wasn’t hard enough to warrant crampons and was not particularly deep, so did not hinder our progress too much.

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The start of the snow

As we gained more height, Loch Tummel came into view, which was totally still and glass-like on what was now a very nice morning indeed.

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Loch Tummel and beyond

After almost 2 hours of walking, we were now beginning to approach the boulder-strewn section of the path, which continued until the summit. Again, the lack of deep snow meant that picking our way around the bigger boulders and avoiding any gaps was reasonably simple and we continued on towards the summit without any issues.

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Summit coming in to view
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Nearing the summit

After the boulder-field, the gradient steepened slightly and the snow became much deeper in places, but was still particularly soft so it wasn’t really possible to stay on top of it. Instead, sinking about knee-deep with each step and a bit of comedy walking was the order of the day. However, with no real steep sections or difficult terrain the day was still very relaxed and enjoyable as we slowly made our way towards the summit.

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Looking south

We reached the snow covered cairn at 1230, 2.5 hours after leaving the car. Happy with our progress, we enjoyed the views for a wee while whilst having a quick bite to eat before beginning our descent back to the car, retracing the ascent route.

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Snow-covered summit cairn
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My dad at the summit

Once again, the deeper section of snow below the summit was quite fun, but posed no real threat. We hopped through it and began making our way across the flatter boulder-field section.

It was around this point, however, that a family of 4 passed us on the way up – with 2 small children – dressed in jeans and walking shoes. Despite the relatively easy winter conditions, I found it a little surprising to see young children being so inappropriately dressed for such an undertaking. Each to their own, I suppose, but if something were to happen, the family didn’t look like they had the equipment or extra clothing to be able to deal with an emergency, meaning others might have to risk their lives to rescue such ill-prepared people.

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Looking back towards the summit
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The descent

A bit taken aback by the group who passed us, we continued on following the many footsteps on top of the snow covered path back towards the car park. We reached the bottom of the snow and stopped for a minute to remove the extra layer’s we’d put on at the summit as it was now a little warmer than earlier and continued along the gentle path back to the car, reaching the car park at around 1445 4 hours 45 minutes after setting off.

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Looking back on a great day

This was another great day out in good conditions and if it had been summer conditions, it would have been easy to cut 30-45 minutes off the time it took us to complete the trip. This was my 35th Munro, getting me a little closer to my target of 50 by the end of 2019…!

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