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Braes of Foss, Schiehallion & 1774 observation stations, Perth & Kinross, Scotland
[13.0 km]  Thu 11 May 2017

OS Grid ref: NN 74566 56073
Lat/Long: 56.679525, -04.048980

An overcast gloomy morning with low cloud. The temperature was 5 deg C.
I walked along the road then turn right into the Schiehellion car park at Braes of Foss. There was one car and a man asleep inside. I continued up the main path that follows the east ridge up the mountain.

Monument to the Schiehallion experiment
mostly by Nevil Maskelyne

Looking east from the climb of Schiehallion
I soon reached the cloud level and was walking through mist for a while then at 700 metres I got above it and had good views. I continued up the well-made path to 725 metres where I decided to leave it and head across the slopes across the south face of the Mountain. After leaving the main path it was rough going for a while through the heather. However I came across a faint track which seem to have been created by sheep and deer. It traversed the mountain a little higher than my planned route but I stuck to it as it was heading in the right direction.
The track path started to descend slightly as I approached the location of the scientific observation point. I checked my notes and set the coordinates into my GPS and descended steeply to a small flat area where the observation instruments would have been in 1774. It was obvious that someone had visited it in the not too distant past as a small cairn had been set up in the west corner. Just to the west and a few metres higher was the site of the accommodation bothy. This was very overgrown and it could only be identified by stones under the heather.

The South Observatory site, 724m
lat/long: 56.661331, -04.089873
OS grid ref: NN 72000 54124

Looking down the south slopes of Schiehallion

Circle of stones on the ridge
About 10 metres to the south and slightly lower was another flat area but it was rather small and no evidence that it was man-made. After taking a few photographs and sending a Facebook post as I had a 4G connection I decided to head straight up the south face. It was steep going through the heather and at times was very steep with a fair degree of exposure. There were some boulder fields which were difficult to cross as they were generally loose in places. I kept going and eventually reached the summit ridge of Schiehallion and to my relief was on the official path. Nearby was a circle of stones which looks like a wind shelter but could also have been a much older structure. I turned left and followed the path towards the summit and although I was walking across stones there was a faint path to follow marked by the occasional cairn.
It wasn't too far to the actual summit and I could see two people were already there. The weather had cleared and I had reasonable if hazy views of the surrounding mountains.

Schiehallion summit
in the foreground are the remains of the old trig post
On the final approach I met the couple coming down it was a man and a woman. We start to chat briefly and the woman seemed quite interested in the history of the Maskelyne experiment as she had read about it in guide note for the mountains. They continued down and I continued up. I reach the tangle of boulders at the highest point and could see the concrete remains of the trig post that used to be there. It was considerably different to the last time I was here when it was thick cloud and everything was covered in ice.
I spent a few moments taking in the views and walked a little further to the west to see what the descending ridge looked like. I then then started my descent to the east and retraced my steps to where I had joined the path from the south observatory. I wanted to revisit the north observatory site so I continued down to a point where I could see a clear grassy descent.

The North Observatory site, 641m
lat/long: 56.673296, -04.089023
OS grid ref: NN 72093 55454
I could see boulder fields and wanted to avoid them at all costs. I managed to find a clear area between them and eventually finish up on the less steep slower slopes. I have the gps waypoint marked in my gps unit so was able to find the observatory site without any problems. Everything was as I left it yesterday and I spent a few moments walking around the site before continuing my descent down to the road. I followed the same descent route as yesterday even though there was no path to follow. At the road I turn right to head back to the car but stopped briefly where a group of young people were rebuilding one of the dry stone walls. There was a lady ranger supervising them and I stopped briefly to chat about the work they were doing and about the Maskelyne experiment which she was aware of. Back at the road was a man who was supervising the wall building as he was a qualified dry stone waller. We chatted briefly about the different kinds of walling techniques and I then left and continued back to the car.

Schiehallion 1774 Observatory
North Observatory 641m
56.673296, -04.089023
NN 72093 55454

South Observatory 724m
56.661331, -04.089873
NN 72000 54124