The Out About Scotland complete guide to Schiehallion mountain in Perth & Kinross
Category: Mountain, Nature, Walk or cycle route
Suitable for ages: 11 to 18 years, 18+ years
Ideal for: Couples, Groups, Solo travellers
I rate it: 9 out of 10
Schiehallion mountain lies between Loch’s Tay, Rannoch, and Tummel roughly 10 miles north-west of Aberfeldy in Perthshire, and it’s renowned amongst Scotland’s hillwalkers as being 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 3000 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 to date an average 20,000 visitors make their way from the Braes of Foss car park at the mountain’s base to the 3553-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 lead them to create a new track that leads (nearly) all the way 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. Abso-blooming beautiful.
To be honest with you 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 starts to feel like a bit of a 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 10/10 from me for the views you get as you make your way to the top.
Read on to learn more about bagging this Munro.
Things to do at Schiehallion
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.
Leading out of the car park is the path, and after passing through a gate you’ll find yourself on the wide, gravel-strewn 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 which are still easier to traverse than the paths you’ll find on many other Munros.
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.
The views finish nicely at the top with a breathtaking panorama that extends across Loch Rannoch and Perthshire’s forests, and you’ll even see Ben Nevis far away in the distance to the north.
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.
What I liked about this attraction
- There’s a decent car park with toilets at the base of the mountain
- The John Muir Trust path is in excellent condition and makes the hike comparatively easy
- What a view from the summit! Check out the view west across Rannoch Moor
My top tips
- Take plenty of water. The path looks gentle from the base of the mountain but it’s quite hard work towards the top
- This mountain is an extremely popular tourist destination. Get to the car park before 9am to guarantee a parking space
- Even on a mild day it can be very windy and cold at the summit so pack a hat and windproof jacket in your bag
Photos and video
Address and map
Braes Of Foss,
Nr Tummel Bridge,
Click the map for directions
Walking map and directions
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 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.
Prices and opening times
There is no fee to walk up Schiehallion. Car parking charges may apply.
The route is open 247, 365 days a year though rangers may lock the gates depending on the weather conditions.
Getting there: Car park on-site
Getting around: Level paths at the base. Uneven paths towards the top. Boulder fields at the top third
On-site conveniences: Toilets in the car park
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