29 Oct 2006 Schiehallion – The Fatdog Conquers God’s Construction Site

The Fatdog Conquers God’s Construction Site

October 29 proved to be a day of fine weather, negligible wind and a 45 minute traffic delay on the A9  !!!

It all started well enough. A scenic drive via Dunkeld and Loch Tummel took me and The Fatdog to the Braes of Foss car park to the east of Schiehallion. We arrived about 11.00 am and promptly struggled to find a space to park.

After the parking fiasco, I was delighted to see a veritable motorway of a path stretching in front of us on the early part of the hill.

This wide cinder track, interspersed with well constructed rock staircases, wound its way across the heather clad hillside taking us up quickly from the busy Braes of Foss car park.

As The Fatdog ploughed her way up the path, the backward looks I was getting suggested my subterfuge of taking photographs as sly rest periods were not universally appreciated. In labrador thinking summit means food. The quicker we get there……the quicker we eat.

Loch Tummel gradually unfolded to the NE as we made our way up the slope.

Looking back to the SE there were good views down Gleann Mor.

To the SW the peaks of the Glen Lyon hills were silhouetted against the sky. Today was a kind sky. Not particularly sunny, but with safe, non threatening high level cloud.

Fortunately last weeks virus at Ben Lawers had decided to stay at home so progress was steady going up. My frequent photographic (rest) periods kept me from over exerting.

And still the staircases climbed upwards.

As we approached the roll of the shoulder, the terrain started to change from heather to a scattering of rock fragments but the well crafted path kept us moving up at pace.

The cinder track suddenly ran out as the major rock field started. A path of sorts had been formed by filling gaps in the rocks with smaller stones. This could be tricky to find in low visibility. Apparently there were once cairns which could be used as a guide, but there are only a couple left.
The rock field represented a new challenge for The Fatdog.

Where the gradient of the shoulder eased and the summit appeared the view was truly memorable. An ascending wasteland of shattered rock lay between us and the summit.

Did God go into liquidation whilst constructing Schiehallion? Did his E.U. funding run out……or did some wee torag from Maryhill push over the original giant cairn and kick its remains over the hillside?
I’ve no doubt a number of you will have your own theories on the appearance of this particular hill .

From the summit there was a hazy view of Loch Rannoch to the north west.


I looked back down the north edge of the long E summit approach, watching the brightly coloured dots bob about on the broken rock carpet. We sat munching lunch watching the incessant snake of walkers plod their way upwards towards us, FD counting the packs and calculating how long it would be before the next course arrived.


The edges of this giant, natural quarry spilled lazily over the rounded edge of the N slope forming patches of scree further down.

Refreshed by lunch and the usual irrational sense of Munro top euphoria, we skipped across the rocks heading back down the rock field. It’s a delicate operation bouncing from rock to rock with 36kg of psychotic labrador trying to do the same  . One wrong step……one accidentally shared rock…………!


The Tigger impersonations didn’t last long and we were soon reduced to picking our way back through the smaller rocks back to where we could pick up the trail again.

It was an uneventful plod back down to the car. By 4.30pm we were packed up and it was time to head for home. We had an easy drive back until we reached Keir roundabout on the A9 at Dunblane. The traffic must have been backed up half way to Perth!

I sat and fumed in the front  ………accompanied by the gentle snoring of The Fatdog in the back.


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