By Craig Neil
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Table of Contents
- Tourist information
- Tourist map of Scotland
- Walking route
- Things to do nearby
- Frequently asked questions
Schiehallion is a 3,553-foot high mountain in Perth & Kinross which is one of the easiest Munros to climb in Scotland. The wide and rough footpath offers visitors superb views of the surrounding countryside on a hike to the summit that should take 3-4 hours in total.
1: There’s a decent car park with toilets at the base of the mountain which is handy because the trail on the way up is wide open. No bushes to hide behind if you get caught short on this walk I’m afraid.
2: The John Muir Trust path is in excellent condition and makes the hike fairly easy going. The only rough section is towards the summit.
3: This is one of the easiest Munros to climb in Scotland. It’s a long slog though, so comfortable walking boots are a must.
1: Take plenty of water. The path is a mild incline from the base of the mountain but it’s quite hard work towards the summit.
2: Be aware that even on a mild day it can be very windy and cold at the top so pack a hat and a windproof jacket. If you don’t have a backpack I recommend Berghaus.
3: This mountain is an extremely popular tourist destination, especially at the weekend. Get to the car park before 9 am to guarantee a parking space.
Schiehallion mountain lies between Loch’s Tay, Rannoch, and Tummel roughly 10 miles northwest of Aberfeldy in Perthshire, and it’s renowned amongst Scotland’s hillwalkers as one of the easiest Munro’s to ‘bag’ in the country.
If you’ve never heard of Munro-bagging it’s basically an activity where hill-walkers reach the summit of as many of Scotland’s mountains as possible, where the summit has an elevation of at least 3,000 feet.
A lot of the Munros are incredibly hard work to the point where climbing them makes you want to hide under the duvet instead of braving the great outdoors, but Schiehallion is a gentle stroll in comparison thanks to the wide path that winds its way from the base to the summit of the east ridge.
This comparatively easy ascent is the reason why so many people visit the mountain and an average of 20,000 visitors make their way from the Braes of Foss car park at the mountain’s base to the 3,553-foot summit each year.
In fact, the crazy number of walkers is the reason why the John Muir Trust took over the management of Schiehallion back in 1999 as the amount of footfall was starting to seriously erode the mountainside, which in turn led them to create a new track that climbs almost to the summit.
Viewed from across Loch Rannoch, Schiehallion has an almost perfectly conical shape that you’d think is impossible to climb, but by approaching from the opposite direction you’ll see that the ‘cone’ actually has a long and gently sloping face on its eastern side.
It’s not a particularly long walk either at around 3 miles in length, and coupled with the gorgeous views along the way it has to be one of the best short hikes in Scotland.
The east ridge is ablaze with colour in summer thanks to the swathes of heathers and mosses that cover the slopes while the upper areas past the summit are almost completely covered in flora and fauna right up to the point where the summit comes into view.
I’ve only got one negative about the walk up Schiehallion, which is that due to its popularity you’re unlikely to get a day when you’re not surrounded by other walkers, to the point where it feels like a city tourist attraction rather than a dramatic mountainscape.
So as a place to get lost in the Scottish wilderness Schiehallion isn’t the best, but it still gets a solid 10/10 for the views you get as you make your way to the top.
The car park at Schiehallion’s base is unusual in that not only is it a decent size and tarmacked but it also has toilet facilities – which are a bit of a godsend when you’re caught short and desperately looking for a secluded spot when there are busloads of fellow walkers hanging around.
The footpath leads out of the car park and after passing through a gate you’ll find yourself on the wide, gravel-covered track that was installed by the John Muir Trust.
The summit of the mountain can be reached by simply following this track to around 2/3 of its height after which the route becomes a mild scramble across stretches of boulder fields and rough tracks that are still easier to traverse than the paths you’ll find on many other Munros.
The entire walk shouldn’t take more than 3-4 hours return and there’s no chance of getting lost as all you need to do is follow the footpath to the top.
That being said, I recommend getting an OS map of the area because there are so many stunning walks in this part of Scotland and it would be a shame to miss them. I recommend OS maps 41, 51 and 52.
The landscape on the way is stunning – there really isn’t another word to describe it – and comprises heather-covered slopes, forests, lochs and open pastures of wildflowers.
All in all, Schiehallion offers a fantastic walking experience that’s perfect if you’re after an easier way to climb one of Scotland’s mountains while still providing views that rival any other in the Highlands.
Discover more mountains in Scotland with: The Best Munros in Scotland – Ultimate Visitor Guide.
Tourist map of Scotland
Braes Of Foss,
Nr Tummel Bridge,
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Explore this area with a detailed paper map from Ordnance Survey:
Pitlochry & Loch Tummel – OL49 Explorer.
Loch Tay & Glen Dochart – 51 Landranger.
Pitlochry & Crieff – 52 Landranger.
OS Explorer Maps: Best for walking, mountain biking, and finding footpaths. 1:25,000 scale (4cm = 1km in real world). Buy OS Explorer maps direct from Ordnance Survey.
OS Landranger Maps: Best for road cycling, touring by car, and finding attractions. 1:50 000 scale (2 cm = 1 km in real world). Buy OS Landranger maps direct from Ordnance Survey.
As always when exploring Scotland’s wilderness areas, make sure you take a bag with you containing warm weather gear no matter the current conditions, and pack a couple of bottles of drinking water in there too.
As far as clothing is concerned I suggest you take windproof and waterproof outer layers as it’s a good couple of hours descent if you get caught mid-shower at the summit, and there’s nothing more miserable than trying to get back to the car when you’re cold and wet.
As far as shoes go, wear walking boots as the path is easy going at the bottom but it stops suddenly at the boulder fields at the top of the east ridge and you’ll find it very tricky to make the summit if you’re wearing trainers or (god forbid) …crocs – like I saw one intrepid hiker wearing on my last visit to Schiehallion :-/
Even so, it’s a relatively straightforward walk from the car park to the summit along a well-worn track, and as it’s such a popular hike you’re more than likely to have other people to follow so you’re unlikely to ever get lost.
One thing has to be said at this point though, which is please don’t deviate from the path to try to get away from fellow walkers.
The John Muir Trust installed the path as a way to conserve the mountain and it’s only now starting to recover after years of abuse. It would be a shame if the place was irreparably damaged for future generations.
If you’d like to support the trust and the work they do you can get involved by taking a look at their website here.
Back to the route – follow the path at the far end of the car park along a rough shingle track that passes through a couple of gates before looping around past the remains of old stone sheep enclosures.
Continue along the path up the east ridge where you’ll find a couple of viewing platforms that offer stunning views across Loch Tummel towards Beinn a’Ghlo.
The path continues up the ridge to a large cairn, and from that point onwards it becomes a bit of an awkward scramble over rocks and boulders.
There are several cairns that act as route markers so follow those as there’s no visible path towards the summit past the top of the east ridge. There are a couple of blind summits but the true summit is reached by simply pressing onwards in the same direction.
There’s no discernible cairn at the very top but it’s obvious when you’re there as you simply won’t be able to go any further. Be aware that it can get very windy at this exposed point so you might consider wrapping up before making the final push.
Unlike the gentle ascent, the opposite side of the mountain is very steep and pretty much impassable for the average walker so to get back to ground level you’ll have to follow the same route you came up on.
Plan 4-6 hours in total for this walk.
Things to do nearby
Ben Lawers Dam. Aberfeldy FK21 8TU. 47-minute drive. Scenic body of water in the Ben Lawers nature reserve that is easily walked to from the Ben Lawers car park. The 334-metre hydroelectric dam offers stunning views over the Loch Tay valley.
The Scottish Crannog Centre. 25-minute drive. Kenmore PH15 2HY. 25-minute drive. An open-air museum that takes visitors on a journey into Scotland’s pre-history. On display are original artefacts, demonstrations of ancient cooking and crafts and guided log boat rides to a replica roundhouse.
The Birks of Aberfeldy. Moness Burn, Aberfeldy. 25-minute drive. Picturesque woodland that inspired the poet Robert Burns to write one of his most famous poems.
The ‘birks’ are the birch trees that this woodland is famous for. Well-maintained pathways run throughout the site and a wooden bridge overlooks a tremendous waterfall.
Tay Forest Park. Dunkeld PH8 0JR. 29-minute drive. Tay Forest is a large forest region of mostly coniferous trees. The forest is popular with walkers and mountain bikers and there are many miles of paths for both activities
A popular starting point is to the west of Loch Tummel at Tummel Bridge village.
Kinloch Rannoch. The Square, Kinloch Rannoch, Pitlochry PH16 5PW. 16-minute drive. A tourist-favourite small village located at the eastern end of Loch Rannoch. The area surrounding the village is frequently used by visitors as a base to explore the loch and Tay Forest Park.
Frequently asked questions
How do I get to Schiehallion?
Address: Braes Of Foss, Nr Tummel Bridge, Perthshire, PH16 5QE
Directions map: Google Maps
How long does it take to walk up Schiehallion?
The walk up the 6.25-mile path to the summit of Schiehallion is one of the easiest of Scotland’s Munro’s and takes 4 to 6 hours to complete the return journey.
Why is Schiehallion famous?
Schiehallion was chosen as the site of an experiment in 1774 to calculate the weight of the earth. Due to the mountain’s almost symmetrical shape, it was an ideal location for the experiment which involved measuring the deflections of a plumb-line relative to the fixed background of stars.
What does Schiehallion mean in Gaelic?
The name Schiehallion derives from the Gaelic ‘Sith Chailleann’ which means ‘Fairy Hill of the Caledonians’.