Monday, 16 August 2010

(36) Schiehallion

Our Haguroyama is Schiehallion.

and what was the toast?
schiehallion! schiehallion! schiehallion!

– Edwin Morgan, ‘Canedolia: an off-concrete Scotch fantasia’

36 boulder field
Ken Cockburn, 2010


The longest day. Or perhaps the day after. Anyway, I park the car at 4.45pm and know I’ll be back before nightfall, even if it does take the 5 hours the pathfinders suggest.

The name Schiehallion comes from the Gaelic Sìdh Chailleann, fairy hill of the Caledonians, though suggested alternatives include constant storm and maiden’s pap.

Meall Garbh and Ben Lawers with it compose a trinity, running north-east from Loch Tay, and form the heart’s mountains of the Gaelic poet Derick Thomson.

is cas mar gheinn
ann an doras shìorraidh,
agus iollach
a’ mhullaich.

and foot like a wedge
in an eternal door,
and the glorious cry
of the summit.

Derick Thomson, from Meall Garbh / The Rugged Mountain (Gairm, 1995)

36 stone steps
Ken Cockburn, 2010

36 summit cairn and Tullibardine 1992
Ken Cockburn, 2010

The car-park is well-treed but once on the path it’s bracken and heather. Beyond the stone remains of a farm the path steepens, and then the boulder-field begins, small stones at first and then larger fragments. It’s too hot, but cloud gives some relief, and the false summits are frustrating until, still distant, the top ridges are revealed. But a wonderful climb, the final ascent awe-inspiring, and a joy to place the cube of white quartz I picked up earlier on the topmost cairn. There is no cloud, and little wind, though I soon cool down now I’ve stopped moving. Fine expansive views in all directions, Lochs Rannoch and Tummel the clearest landmarks.

36 wish (willow, Schiehallion)
Ken Cockburn, 2010


’The nation falls into ruins; rivers and mountains continue.’

Tu Fu, trans. Hinton

Better able to gauge distances, descending. The blue hire-car the last one in the car-park – the leaflet box replenished – the trees’ air of strangeness, especially in this bright/dim gloaming light.


36 wordrawing (Haguroyama, Schiehallion)
Alec Finlay, 2010

36 skyline poem: (for Big Eck, after Caroline Tisdall)
('man / mntn
..... soul / moth..... for Big Eck..... from Wee Eck', AF)
Alec Finlay, 2010


from the car-park at Braes of Foss follow the path to the boulder field, then follow the cairns to the summit.

36 Schiehallion (Coda)

‘Philosophy begins and ends in wonder’
– Arne Naess

36 Sora, Edo
Alec Finlay, 2010

Queen’s View

turning the visor down
another glen

driving east–west
into low sun

(Glen Tummel)

Our first stop on The Big August Trip was Loch Tummel.


We warmed up our muse with the view of Schiehallion – Basho’s Haguroyama – offering some labels and poems written in water, tying a wish, noting the nadokoro names, and applying some of our own. This view was Bruce’s Isabella’s, before it was ever Victoria’s.

36 Basho Queen, Queen's View
Alec Finlay, 2010

36 hokku-label, Queen's View
(‘Queen’s View / not Victoria but Isabella / not Schiehallion but cloud’, KC)
Alec Finlay, 2010

36 lichen-clouds (written in tea), Queen's View
Alec Finlay, 2010


fallen on


(AF, after Ponge)

The mountain wore her shift of cloud, which the wind tore almost off.

winds lifts the cloud
off in as long

as it takes us to say
look at that

36 wish, rowan, Queen's View, Loch Tummel
Alec Finlay, 2010

like an old stripper
Schiehallion kens hoo tae haud on

tae thon last tassel
o’ cloud


Further along the glen we happened on another evening lesson in basic meteorology

36 hokku-label, Schiehallion
Alec Finlay, 2010




Poets have a preference for places whose name rhymes. We ate our tea at the hotel, where I enjoyed the hostess saying

thanks for your patience –
you caught us with

our pants down –
we’ve a wedding on

Our dining companions were exhausted and lovely.

the Indian family
have driven all the way

London – Schiehallion
20 years in 1 day


A last look at the mountain gloaming, imagining – this time – Lushan, by drinking green tea from those slopes, and reading one of Brian’s Lushan poems to Schiehallion.

audio, ‘3 Quatrains', Bai Juyi, tr. Brian Holton
AF & KC, 2010

3 Quatrains on Bidding farewell to the thatched Cottage


I fell asleep in the sun as I listened to the birds on the hill,
my Letter of Appointment, on yellow paper, lying beside my pillow:
I’d better get up right now, my lord, and thank you for your kindness -
so many years slipped by unnoticed, as I lived among the Lushan peaks…


Long I slept under my rough blanket, living as a recluse,
but suddenly I must put on the red mandarin gown and go to be a Prefect;
I will leave my thatched cottage, but my heart stays here,
for I will write much else about Lushan in all the years to come


Three little thatched sheds open to the hills,
and mountain streams girdled around my home;
in sight of the hills, in the sound of the streams, I won’t be sad:
when my three-year tour is over and done, I’ll come back here again.

36 circle poem
Alec Finlay, 2010


36 oku-bluebells, Schiehallion
Alec Finlay, 2010

Here’s the path I walked years ago, by Dalchosnie – another of ‘Kenneth’s Hills’ – and the Inverhadden Burn, where evening harebells ring perfect by the road. A little farther on’s The Black Wood, where the Maris’ took me to see



In the 60’s my Uncle attended the Spartan school at Rannoch.

they’ve moved the beds
so it’s much better now

when the snow
comes in the windows


36 Hypnos, Talladh-A-Bheithe
Alec Finlay, 2010

And so we go along the road – halfway down the loch – that goes nowhere, ending on the moor, to our twin hypnos beds at Talladh-A-Bheithe.

my bath runs
the colour
of the burn
the colour
of whisky


The next morn we made an early stop by the lochside, at Dagganesgair – which doesn’t mean ‘Chemical Cottage’ – to see Schiehallion from the West and warm up our muses.

36 meso-compass Loch Rannoch
poem AF, photograph KC, 2010



36 hokku-label, Loch Rannoch (rocket)
(‘rocketman –/ fly me to / Schiehallion’, AF)
Ken Cockburn, 2010

36 Astronaut
Ken Cockburn, 2010

36 S/B, signed in the water of Loch Rannoch
Alec Finlay, 2010



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