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Schiehallion



The eastern side of Schiehallion is now owned and managed by the John Muir Trust.  It's from here that the path to the summit sets off, but it's a fantastic place to visit for many reasons.  Schiehallion has a rich botanical life, interesting archaeology, and a unique place in scientific history for an 18th-century experiment in 'weighing the world'.  The following information is from the John Muir Trust website:

Flora and Fauna

Schiehallion supports a rich variety of upland habitats, in contrast to some surrounding hills, because of its underlying limestone. Heather-dominated heathland on the lower slopes is interspersed with other vegetation types including bracken, bog and small areas of herb-rich grassland and base-enriched flush. Locally there are patches of limestone pavement, rare in Scotland. At higher altitudes there are blaeberry (Vaccinium) heaths, and the summit ridge has bare blocks of shattered quartzite and patches of heath and bog. Woodland with birch, aspen, rowan and willow survives in the Allt Mor and other gorges, where it was protected from grazing and fire.

Over 60 species of mainly upland birds have been recorded on Schiehallion, though not all breed there. Important breeding species include hen harrier, merlin, ptarmigan, black grouse, ring ouzel and twite. As vegetation responds to changing management, it is anticipated that many bird species will benefit from increased shrub growth, though some open ground dependent species may decline in the long term.

The commonest large mammal is red deer, mostly on the south side of Schiehallion. They are increasing. In August 2004 there was a count of 80 (mostly hinds) and in October 2004 a herd of 114 was seen. Roe deer, and mountain and brown hares, may be seen but are not numerous. Iinvertebrates have recently been re-recorded. The Mountain Ringlet butterfly (Erebia epiphron) has recently been re-recorded including a survey by Butterfly Conservation where the butterfly was recorded in several locations on the mountain. There are at least seven moths of national interest, with one nationally rare species (Ancylis tineana) recorded, primarily from an area near Lochan an Daim (north-west of the estate). The sword-gras moth (Xylena exsoleta) was recorded in a 2008 survey by Andy & Maggy Tebbs.

Human history

Clare Thomas' summary of the hill's archaeology, commissioned by the John Muir Trust, shows that Schiehallion was lived on and cultivated from more than 3000 years ago until about 200 years ago.

The earliest remains to be found have been a cup-marked boulder and stone axes, most probably from 3000 – 2000 BC. Settlement and cultivation began sometime between about 1500 BC and the early centuries AD. One hut circle from that era, Aonach Ban, is at 410 m at NN 7475 5405. near the end of an old track . The people who lived there would have grown crops and probably raised cattle, sheep and goats.

Much later, there is evidence for farming on the NE corner of Schiehallion up to the 18th century, for example at a location to the W of the new path, and uphill from it in a grassy area. These farm-touns were permanent, year-round habitations. Shielings for summer grazing and peat cutting can be seen on the N side at Ruighe nan Coireachan and on the S side in Gleann Mòr where Ruighe nan Eachraidh (NN 7455 5352) is very impressive. Sheep rearing increased in importance, and became the estate's principal activity in the late 18th century. One sheep-fank is beside the new path at NN 74820 54789. Older settlements on JMT ground had by that time been abandoned. In the 19th century, Schiehallion became a sporting estate. Traces of grouse butts remain.

Weighing the world

Schiehallion's symmetrical shape earned it a place in scientific history and discovery in the late 18th century. In 1774 the Rev Neville Maskelyne, Astronomer Royal, camped out there collecting data, with the aid of a plumb line and the stars, on the gravitational pull of the mountain. 237 measurements were taken from two stations, still discernible, on the N and S of the hill. The calculated weight of the earth was substantially correct. At the end of the season a highly successful party was held in which the surveyors' bothy burned down! Charles Hutton, during his work on the survey data, devised the concept of contour lines, so important for modern hillwalkers.


Access: John Muir Trust land is open to all, and we welcome all visitors. We trust visitors will respect the wishes of the people who live and work on the estates.
Walking on Schiehallion: From the car park, the summit may be reached along the realigned east ridge path. There is no waymarking. The summit ridge is high, rocky and exposed to the weather, and summit visitors should be able to navigate, and should come equipped as for any mountain walk. There's also a lower-level walk starting off on the new path, but heading south to Gleann Mòr. This quiet, open glen on the sunny side of the hill has a wooded gorge, and grassy areas round the remains of shielings.
Getting there: The Forestry Commission car park on the minor road at at Braes of Foss is the only formal parking around the mountain. It is about 10 miles from Aberfeldy, and 5 miles from Tummel Bridge and Kinloch Rannoch.
Facilities: Public toilets at Braes of Foss car park (closed in winter).

Picture taken at summit of Schiehallion (see gallery - © Copyright Stuart Meek and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.)



Braes of Foss

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Phone: 0300 321 4964