Thursday, June 19, 2014

Rocks, rocks, and more rocks on Schiehallion...and Newton's gravitational constant!

Stairway to the top? But will it last?
Between life and locum, it's been pretty busy and blogging has been on the "back burner" - on slow simmer. Having a friend over from Canada, however, can provide the perfect rational for seeing a little more of the "countryside" - and gaining some modest elevation.

Schiehallion, a Munro (a Scottish mountain over 3000'), lies in Perth and Kinross about 10 miles north of Aberfeldy and in between Loch Tummel and Loch Tay. It's an isolated peak and we first saw its conical profile from Birnam Hill, a couple of years ago - it beckoned and tempted closer investigation. Interestingly, it is almost the exact centre of Scotland in terms of latitude and longitude.

This mountain also has a very scientific claim to fame! In 1774, the Reverend Doctor Nevil Maskelyne FRS, who must have taken sufficient time out of his pastoral duties to become the 5th English Astronomer Royal, conducted an experiment to determine the density of the earth - using a plumb line! Observing how much the plumb line was pulled out of the vertical towards the mountain, by the mountain's gravitational force, he established what became the first determination of Newton's gravitational constant. You can look this up and enjoy a good read - but make a very strong cup of coffee first! :)

As far as we, of less scientific minds were concerned, it was just a great, heart-pumping hike. The clearly marked trail disappeared into a boulderfield...

Joan, plodding up, over, and through the boulders.
that went on and on and on. And on...

Linda, amidst the sun-warmed boulders.
 False summits offered a false sense of accomplishment - several times!

Another false summit? Oh no!
The 360 degree panoramic views, however, are breathtaking and worth every ankle-twisting, achilles-stretching step over the rocks and boulders.

Ahh, but at 3,553', it's lovely!
Arriving without incident, the summit ranks as a Five Star venue for lunch - or launch for paragliding!

Lunch at the top of Schiehallion.
As for Newton's gravitational constant (G), I think the Rev'd Doctor Maskelyne FRS was onto something! ;)

G = 6.673×10-11 N m2 kg-2

And, of course, the hike "rock"ed!


  1. Yup it certainly rocked and rocked and rocked some more but so worth it!
    Thanks for an amazing day and adventure!

  2. Thanks L. Yes, every "adventure" in life seems to be worth the short term "breathlessness" and and the element of effort. Glad you enjoyed it. :) D.

  3. Looks like the perfect "formula" for a great day in the hills! :>) Gen.

  4. Well put, Gen! Indeed it was. Thank you for that. :) Best wishes, Duncan.

  5. Great stuff Duncan!, who could resist climbing "the fairy hill of the Caledons" on a sunny day like that - even if there's quite a few of Maskeleyne's new-fangled contour lines to cross :-)

    Kind regards

  6. Thanks so much for that, Ian. Now that you mention it, it was a combination of the contour lines and the view that resulted in some occasional breathlessness! :) We'll be on the water soon! Warm wishes to you and Linda. D&J