Friday 6 September 2013


`Twas the usual story last weekend - arrive home from work on Friday, check weather forecast, grow increasingly unenthusiastic about actually organising a walk for Saturday, hum, haw and generally fanny about. In a less frequent turn of events however, I later realised that there was a wee gap in the MWIS roll call of bad news, and decided that Big Dug might enjoy a jaunt to the Fairy Hill of the Caledonians. Molly likes fairies. Caledonians not so much, but that's another story.

It was March 2005 that I was up Schiehallion before. That's pre-dugs, even. It sticks in my memory - apart from the fact that we got excellent views - because there was a fair bit of snow lying around the hills generally, and the forecast that day had been for jolly cold conditions. Consequently, I was proper kitted out for winter Munro bagging, hauling emergency hot drinks, extra layers and - of course - my ice axe. Thus equipped, I met a chap at the top wandering about in his good dress brogues, and a pastel pink Pringle sweater knotted casually over his shoulders, because it was too warm & sunny for him to actually wear it.

Luckily, I have the chutzpah to carry that kind of encounter off.

I digress. Molly on the tourist route - I say tourist route, I'm no' sure there's any other route - to the top of Schiehallion: 

Ready for the off
The lush greenery of Scotland after an actual summer
What's she gazing at in the distance?
Oh right - the relentless march of the Beauly to Denny pylon route.
She's off.
There's an odd right angled wall/shelter affair at the end of the main climb
And once beyond there, one encounters a stony plateau.
A plateau which is suitable for posing.
A pose which she'll hold for as long as the camera's pointing at her.
My Little Pony
Summit in sight. Stony, eh?
It was further away than it looked. But just as stony.
Last breather before the summit push
You know, I could get RIGHT to the top of that.

And then you're back doon the same way. It was about an hour & three quarters up, and an hour & a half return. I spent ages at the top right enough, simply because I could. There should be a leisurely element to hillwalking, but oftentimes it doesn't feel that way. Me and the dug had a great day, and I was home by 5pm.

Two practical notes. First, it's a very very busy hill, but there's more space in the carpark than first impressions would suggest - you can evidently squeeze motors in everywhere, not just the "designated" spots! Second, the hill's almost entirely dug friendly apart from (a) three or four random sheep at the start of the hill proper, and (b) that whole mental rocky stretch that lasts half the ascent. Molly was OK with it, even with her relatively delicate paws, but I passed a couple of folk with smaller dugs who were carrying them, the wee things were struggling so much. You don't want a short, clumsy dog with pencil thin legs, that's what I'm saying.

I'd go back again, again. Which is really the test, eh?

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