New land manager for Schiehallion

Liz to wave her magic wand over the Fairy Hill.

Liz to wave her magic wand over the Fairy Hill.

Wildlife and botany expert, Dr Liz Auty, is to take over the running of one of Scotland’s most iconic Munros on behalf of the Trust.

A Cambridge University graduate, Liz lives in Auchterarder with her husband and two children. Since 2007, she has been the Trust’s national biodiversity officer, but she is now relishing the challenge of looking after a Munro which attracts thousands of walkers every year and is home to over 300 animal and plant species.

“I’m really pleased to be taking on this role," she says. “Schiehallion, the Fairy Hill of the Caledonians has everything: its three and half thousand foot, Alpine-like, peak rises straight up in the dead centre of Scotland; it is steeped in legend and folklore; it is home to over 300 species including some of Scotland’s rarest wildlife; it has dozens of fascinating archeological structures; and it has a a unique place in the history of mathematics, science and geography.”

Exactly 240 years ago this summer, Britain’s Astronomer Royal, Nevil Maskelyne, conducted a groundbreaking experiment on Schiehallion to calculate the density and weight of the Earth. As a spin-off from this work, the concept of countour lines was developed.

“Because of its easy access from much of Central Scotland, and its realtive safety in good weather, Schiehallion is one of Scotland’s most popular and family-friendly mountains.

“The Trust is always keen to encourage people out on to the hills, but maintaining the footpath and keeping it clear of litter can feel like painting the Forth Bridge.

“I will also be working in close partnership with our neighbours – the Highland Perthshire Community Trust, which owns Duncoillich, the Forestry Commission and the Kynacahn estate. We would like to work towards a network of woodlands across the four estates.

“We will also be stepping up the number of species studies carried out on Schiehallion. The black grouse, we know, have been doing well, and last year's beautiful summer was great year for the rare mountain ringlet butterfly.”

Fascinating facts about Schiehallion
• The mountain is home to red deer, hares, black grouse, Ptarmigan, ring ouzel and numerous other species.

• The mountain’s Gaelic name is Sith Chailleann which means Fairy Hill of the Caledonians.

• Its slopes have been inhabited and cultivated for more than 3000 years, until around 200 years ago.

• The Archaeology of Schiehallion (a booklet on sale in the Wild Space in Pitlochry) lists 20 archaeological sites on the mountain, along with background information, locations and GPS references.

• The John Muir Trust took over ownership and management of the mountain in 1998, and within a few years had transformed the main footpath from an ugly, waterlogged scar into a more natural-looking and walker-friendly route.

• The Schiehallion Experiment to calculate the density of the Earth was carried out over the summer months of 1774 by the Reverend Nevil Maskelyne, backed by a team of mathematicians, scientists and labourers. Observatories were constructed to the north and south of the mountain,and a bothy was built to accommodate the scientsists and their equipment.The labourers camped out in rough canvas tents.

• Contours lines were developed at Schiehalllion by mathematician Charles Hutton to aid Maskelelyne’s calculations.

• Schiehallion has lent its name to a cask-conditioned lager, a Scottish folk band, a North Sea oilfield, a Scottish country dance, and an album track by a 1990s reggae band.