Greetings from the Central Highlands of Scotland or, more specifically, from the shore of Loch Rannoch. We are currently holed up here in a rather wonderful lodge enjoying a week of good food and lazy living. It’s marvellous.
I shall share my general holiday news at a later date but now I would like to talk to you about that mountain to the left of the picture above. That is Schiehallion and yesterday we set out on an adventure to climb it.
The name Schiehallion originates from Gaelic and has the rather wonderful translation of ‘fairy mountain of Caledonia (Scotland)’.
Schiehallion is one of the most wellknown of the Munros, which is basically any mountain in Scotland over 3,000ft (nearly 1,000m). People spend a lifetime trying to climb them all.
Now I enjoy a walk and even a little climb from time to time but scaling rock faces with pick axe and crampons is not my idea of fun, especially when I am hideously unfit and have a nine month old baby in tow. However, for the main part, Schiehallion is not exactly a tough challenge as mountaineering goes. It is only 3,500ft to the summit and there is a single path for most of the ascent. Even so, there was never really any question of my making it to top.
In preparation for the holiday we decided to splash out on an Ergo baby carrier. I still love my second hand Moby wrap, which I have used with the Little Man since birth, but it is too much of a faff to get him in and out now we are venturing out for longer and is not really practical for outdoor exploring.
The other advantage of the Ergo is that hubby can carry the Little Man without suffering from backache. We therefore shared the load – hubby going up and me coming down, teehee!
For a relatively isolated and seemingly insignificant hill Schiehallion is surprisingly notorious, not least for its involvement in an ambitious 18th century experiment to estimate the mass of the Earth. It is just about the central point of Scotland, lends its name to a lager, a dance and an oilfield and also happens to be a particularly enjoyable spot for a bit of amateur hill climbing.
The climb began easily as we meandered along a windy path but it soon became steeper. We had all been somewhat dismayed when the view from our windows that morning was obscured by mist but, having studied the weather at length online, hubby assured us that it would be clear on the mountain and he was right. As we walked we could see the mist hanging over Loch Tummel and Dunalastair Reservoir.
Can you spot the tiny people on the ridge there?!
My zippy little sister and soon to be brother-in-law sped off whilst we (hubby, the Little Man, my father-in-law and myself) continued at a somewhat more leisurely pace, some of us huffing and puffing more than others.
The weather, being dry, mild and relatively bright, was about as kind as you could wish for considering it is early January. However we did come across a couple of patches of icy snow, which we were very excited about.
After just over 90 minutes climbing we came upon a flat bed of heather which provided a suitable place for lunch. The path disappeared soon afterwards and I was very aware that the Little Man’s interest in the expedition was not going to be unlimited and we still had to make our way back down. I had packed a banana and a hot cross bun as a handy lunch for him but he did manage to snaffle a fair few chunks of my sandwich as well.
Unfortunately, as we were finishing our picnic the mist descended, shrouding us in freezing fog. Having had word from the others that they were really close to the peak we decided that it would be prudent to begin our descent.
Luckily the fog was temporary, as hubby had assured us it would be, and the view soon lay spectacularly below us.
Given the circumstances we decided that it would be easier for me to also carry the Little Man on my back. It was very comfortable and the best choice on this terrain but I missed being able to kiss and cuddle him and will continue to carry him on my front usually for a while yet.
The massive head start did not deter my sister and they caught up with us in an embarrassingly short time. However this meant we could enjoy an amicable descent together as a group whilst they told us what lay beyond the ridge of the mountain!