See http://www.topwalks.com/tgoc2012.html Day 7 for map
Distance: 29.3km (Cum 215.6)
Ascent: 1300 metres (Cum 6100)
Time taken: 8.5hrs including stops
Challengers encountered: none whilst walking; Phil, Dave and Conrad at the Loch Tummel inn, plus John Woolston and Bill Archibald, for whom there is 'no room at the inn'!
Others encountered: one day walker on Schiehallion and two sets of dog walkers
Flora and Fauna: curlew and lapwings, wayside broom, another yellow flower I can never seem to identify, lots of red deer
Ben and Rita are excellent hosts. We felt unable to rush off into our planned long day. Besides, it was raining. So it was 9.30 before we left to try our hand at Schiehallion, concerning which I've edited a Wiki extract below*.
The path to the small bothy built into the eastern hillside of Schiehallion at about 600 metres was delightful. A lovely old track with fine views which we lost beyond that point on account of the mist.
It was time for elevenses, which Sue savoured from the door of the bothy (pictured).
A steep haul up from there, with slippery rocks, a bit of scree, and some small crags to negotiate, saw us on the summit of this iconic hill (Sue is pictured there) at 12.15. It was misty and raining. Sue racked her brain and decided she hadn't ever gained a view from the summit.
We expected to see a few day walkers on the 'tourist path' but today only one of them had braved the conditions. Roger Boston (who was due there today) was nowhere to be seen. Later, some of the TGO Challenge road walking fraternity declared us insane. A text message received near the summit informed us that even the hardy trio of Heather, Sue and Dave were having a day off today!
The sleet eased after we had made our way slowly along the broad ridge strewn with slippery rocks. Then the descent down the JMT's fine new path brought us to a bench near the car park where we enjoyed lunch in the rain and a chat with some dog walkers.
Q: "Where are you going?"
... always raises some interest.
Pressing on through bogs and across streams before heading up through deep heather, we eventually arrived, by a rather roundabout route, at the 416 metre summit of Creag Kynachan. It was low enough to offer wide ranging views, so far as was possible given that everything over 600 metres was enveloped in a thick blanket of cloud.
The view down Loch Tummel, about which there is more here#, was not quite at its best in today's rain.
The direct descent to reach the B846 road by the power station in Tummel Bridge was very rough and tiring, with a seemingly randomly placed deer fence to negotiate near the bottom.
After draining the flask from the comfort of another bench, we embarked on the uneventful final stage of today's journey, via Easter Bohespic and some lovely forest tracks. Footprints headed off towards Blair Atholl at the point where we went down to Loch Tummel.
Amanda provided her usual cheery welcome at the Inn (http://www.lochtummelinn.co.uk/) and we spent a pleasant evening in the company of the other Challengers mentioned above.
It was still raining when John and Bill stumbled out to pitch their tents and the rest of us took to our luxurious mattresses.
*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 mountain's popularity amongst walkers led to serious erosion on its footpath and extensive repairs were undertaken on the popular eastern flanks in 2001 following the area's acquisition by the John Muir Trust in 1999. The mountain (3547 ft/1083m) is isolated from other peaks and has an almost perfect conical shape from the west. The view of the broad eastern flank attracts many visitors to the shores of Loch Tummel. Schiehallion is sometimes described as the centre of Scotland. The justification is that the line of latitude midway between the most northerly and southerly points on the Scottish mainland, and the line of longitude midway between the most easterly and westerly points, intersect very near the summit of Schiehallion. By coincidence (perhaps) the summit marked the half way point in distance of our own walk across Scotland. The slopes of Schiehallion have been inhabited and cultivated since the first millennium BC until approximately two hundred years ago. Schiehallion has been used for grazing sheep and stalking red deer.
Schiehallion's isolated position and regular shape led it to be selected by Charles Mason for a ground-breaking experiment to estimate the mass of the Earth in 1774. The deflection of a pendulum by the mass of the mountain provided an estimate of the mean density of the Earth, from which its mass and a value for Newton's Gravitational constant G could be deduced. Mason turned down a commission to carry out the work and it was instead coordinated by Astronomer Royal, Nevil Maskelyne. He was assisted in the task by mathematician Charles Hutton, who devised a graphical system to represent large volumes of surveyed heights, later known as contour lines. The experiment was repeated in 2005 as an educational initiative.
#Loch Tummel is approximately 11 kilometres long from east to west, and is just under 1 kilometre wide. It became part of the Tummel Hydro-Electric Power Scheme when the Clunie Dam was constructed by Wimpey Construction at its eastern end in 1950, raising the water level by 4.5 metres. The loch is traversed by roads on both north and south banks, offering splendid views of the surrounding countryside. The best is probably the well-known 'Queen's View' from the north shore, which Queen Victoria made famous in 1866, offering a magnificent vista over the loch with Schiehallion in the background. It is also claimed that the view was originally named after Queen Isabel, wife of Robert the Bruce. Above the head of the loch, Tummel Bridge crossing the River Tummel actually has two bridges. The original bridge built by General Wade in 1730 has a modern replacement alongside carrying the traffic from Aberfeldy. The northern side of the loch has many duns, forts and cairn circles. At the eastern end, high in Glen Fincastle to the north, sits Fincastle House, a 17th-century seat of a branch of the Stewarts, with links to the 1745 rebellion. At the head of the glen are the standing stones of Clachan Aoraidh in the Allean Forest.
All good stuff! There's lots to explore around here, and all three of our lodgings over the past three nights have afforded great hospitality. Thank you to them all.
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