by Islay Bisset
Source: Chronicle of the Family, Vol 1, No. 3, December 1913
Islay Bisset was just sixteen when she holidayed with her Molteno cousins at Percy and Bessie’s home at Glen Lyon in the Highlands before going up to Cambridge. Uncle Percy organized a family outing to Schiehallion which is one of the Munros, Scottish mountains over 3,000 feet in height. One of the easiest to climb, it is still a four to six hour slog. Islay does the hike with a party of Molteno, Murray and Anderson cousins, along with Ursula and Gwen Bisset. After a day like the one she describes, perhaps we should not be surprised that she and Percy Molteno’s son, Jervis, got married three years later, and she in turn eventually became mistress of Glen Lyon.
One of the most delightful of our many expeditions at Glen Lyon was the climb up Schiehallion, a peak about the same height as Table Mountain. It was rather disappointing on looking out of the windows that morning to see that the surrounding mountains were covered with thick banks of mist. The ignorant groaned with dismay but were cheerfully reassured by those who knew; and as the latter had prophesied, the sun soon drove the mist away.
Just before 9.30 there was a rumble and a row, and into the courtyard came the Humber, now transformed into a splendid shooting brake. On a former occasion some of the party including Cousin Barkly, Margaret, Ursula and George, had an exciting adventure. The lowest gear broke and everyone had to get out and push the car up the hill, which was both long and steep. In spite of this they reached home safely but it was with some excitement that eleven of us – among whom were Margaret, Ursula, Gwen, Ernest and Cousin Ted – packed into the brake and started off.
However we reached the foot of Schiehallion safely and were soon joined by the rest of the party in the Talbot. Three of us, including Dr Murray and Cousin Caroline, camped out a short way up the mountain, and the rest, encouraged by Cousin Percy, toiled on. Up and up we crawled, getting hotter and hotter each moment, and when, during a short rest the thermos flask was found to be broken, the groans from 14 thirsty people were loud and long. About halfway up we found a spring of ice cold water, and there we rested and quenched our thirst.
The last part of the climb was over stones and thick black moss which was less tiring to walk on than the slippery grass and heather; but still it was a somewhat exhausted party which collapsed on to the rocks on the summit.
The view was perfectly glorious! The distant mountains with a delicate blue and the nearer hills and moors were purple with heather. Below on one side lay Loch Rannoch, surrounded by pine-clad hills and gleaming like a sapphire in the sun, and on the other lay Loch Tummel, truly a lake of shining waters.
We sat and gazed at the beauty surrounding us, the blue sky, the great banks of snow white clouds and this dear
“Land of brown heath and shaggy wood
Land of the mountain and the flood”
until it was time for lunch. We all thoroughly enjoyed it and afterwards stretched ourselves out on the rocks for a well earned rest. At about half past three, we started off on our downward journey which were accomplished in an hour. We found the others where we had left them and they, too, had tales to tell of the delightful day they had spent reading, writing and sleeping.
So home we went after having spent a thoroughly happy and enjoyable day, which some of us at least will remember for always.