When it comes to famous mountains in Britain, many have claims for a special significance. Ben Nevis, Snowdon and Scafell Pike are notable for their height. The Yorkshire Three peaks for their Challenge. The Inaccessible Pinnacle because it’s a challenge every Munroist must complete. And Kinder Scout for its history.
The latter will be in the news a lot next month because of the 80th anniversary of the great trespass, but some mountains are famous for other historic reasons.
Schiehallion is one such peak, a Perthshire Munro of 3,553 ft in height and apparently conical shape (although it is in fact elongated). Because of this, it was chosen in 1774 by mathematician and astronomer royal Neville Maskelyne for experiments involving pendulums used to estimate the mass of the Earth.
His assistant Charles Hutton helped map the shape of the mountain and the system he used saw the creation of contour lines. Thus every time people step out with their Ordnance Survey maps
, they can thank some Scottish astronomers for their great initiative.
Today, Schiehallion is owned and looked after by the John Muir Trust (JMT) and last week its volunteers were hard at work in the unseasonally warm sunshine to carry out path repairs, unblocking draining ditches and also placing new turf on parts of an old path that are not re-vegetating quickly.
The peak is one of the most central in Scotland and certainly popular. It is far from Perthshire's highest - there are several loftier ones on the Ben Lawers ridge. But while those peaks to the south of Loch Tay are clustered together and offer Munroists a chance to plant their walking boots
on several summits in a day, the splendid isolation makes Scheihallion a special mountain.
It might even be said that it is a peak deserving a day all to itself as walkers using those well-maintained JMT footpaths take in the fine views and appreciate the particular significance of the contour lines.