An Teallach- 1/2 a mountain by a chicken and a mountain goat
by KeithS » Sat Jun 09, 2012 12:54 pm
Munros included on this walk: Sgurr Fiona (An Teallach)
Date walked: 01/06/2012
Time taken: 7.45 hours
Distance: 15.5 km
Ascent: 1300m2 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
The problem this gave me is that I was therefore depriving myself of the pleasure of a wonderful mountain by saving it for last. From reading reports and studying pictures I knew An Teallach was something very special, and one of, if not the, best mountains on the mainland.
What was needed was a cunning plan. After much consideration I devised what I considered to be a good one. Climb one of the two Munro peaks and miss out the other. I would then have the best of both worlds. And so plans were made. I had been in discussion with Clive to have a week or so walking in the area. I knew this was his favourite mountain, one which he had 'bagged' three times before and I was sure it wouldn't take much effort to persuade him to make a fourth ascent.
After several days of wonderful walking together in Torridon and Fisherfield the time came to put my plan into action.
We dropped a car off at the end point near Dundonnell, and then got to the Corrie Hallie parking area early, well, not too silly o'clock early but in time to get a space which can be tricky at this time of year with such good conditions. With a certain amount of trepidation at the task ahead (on my part that is, not Clive's, he knew of the pleasures to come) we set off up the path towards Shenavall bothy which rises easily from the road and gradually gives ever improving views into Fisherfield.
As the main path levelled out we took the path to the right towards Shenavall and then left this path and started up the ever steepening slopes of Sail Liath. I think we cut off a little early but it didn't matter as we soon found the path which works its way up through the rocks. I settled into my pace, rather slower than Clive's, but we still made it quite easily to the top, marvelling as the views to the Big Six continually impressed in the wonderful conditions. I noted ruefully that the summit of A'Mhaighdean was well clear of cloud, as opposed to when we had traversed it a few days earlier. Hey ho, you can't have everything, we certainly had the good weather today.
As we rounded the top of Sail Liath the views ahead, and behind, and to the sides, but especially ahead, were amazing. I had seen the mountain so many times and from so many different directions but never before been in such a position to appreciate its full beauty. The way ahead was quite obvious, and quite worrying for me. Clive kept trying to convince me that the way was easy and quite safe. I was desperately looking for bypass routes and safe paths round, as he was looking for exposed scrambly type pinnacle things, much to my consternation. His phrases such as 'it's only as exposed as you want it to be' and 'scrambling over narrow pinnacles', did nothing to reassure me. I think Clive was probably trying to get his own back on me for taking him out in my boat to Gruinard Island a few days before to do it's HuMP. Just because the boat had a hole in it and I made him bail out all the way back! It was only a small hole, I don't know why he was worried! Anyway, this was his chance to get revenge.
We dropped easily down the first dip and then up to the next top, Stob Cadha Gobhlach, which certainly lives up to its 'pointed hill' name. At this time we had great views towards Laide so I was able to get my binoculars out and make sure I had remembered to close my front door – I had!
As we looked ahead to the pinnacles I was pleased to see a number of paths traversing to the left of them and noticed some very sensible looking people making their way along one of these safe looking paths. I happily pointed them out to Clive who replied with Chris Tarrant style “You don't want to go that way, you want to go this way” indicating over the tops. I was not convinced but we still made our way down to the base of the pinnacles. Both routes did initially start up to the left hand side and then started to climb as I looked wistfully at the various nice looking paths round the side, as opposed to the way towards doom and death defying tightrope balancing acts over infinite drops where I imagined we were heading.
As we got to one of these paths my sense of self preservation and cowardice took over. I chickened out and suggested to Clive that he continue over the tops whilst I took the route round the side. Having checked I was happy with this, which I was, we parted company and arranged to meet at the other side of the pinnacles, at the col near to the base of Lord Berkeley's Seat. I waved him off and made my way along the path. Although it was quite exposed the views easily made up for this and I did feel I was within my comfort zone. The path was good and I really enjoyed making my way round the hardest bit of the mountain, as opposed to over it as I imagined Clive to be skipping his way from rock to rock over drops of hundreds of feet in true mountain goat fashion. I kept stopping to admire the views to my left, over Beinn Dearg Mor and Loch na Sealga and beyond.
I wasn't quite sure how far it was to the col but continued along the path which twisted and turned in a spectacular fashion. I then found I was starting to descend and seemed to be making my way round the side of the hill as I dropped quite steeply down, rather further than I had expected. I made my way to the col and admired the impressive vertical slabs of rock which plummeted far down into the valley below. I assumed one of these to be Lord Berkeley's Seat and I sat down to wait for Clive, relieved to have successfully negotiated my way past the trickiest section of the day. I did have a sense that something was not quite right as the topography of the hills ahead did not quite match what I had expected, but I was ready for a rest anyway.
As I looked up to the slopes above looking for Clive to come bounding down I was joined by a nice couple who had come from the direction ahead. We started chatting and then my phone rang. It was Clive with a “Where are you?”
“ I'm at the base of Lord Berkeley's Seat, where are you?” I replied, looking up at the nearby rock features, which appeared void of anybody.
“I'm sat on the top of Lord Berkeley's Seat and I can't see you.”
It then dawned on me what I had done, which was confirmed with the couple I had just met. I had missed the col before Sgurr Fiona and continued round the side of the Munro itself down to the beallach beyond between the two main Munro summits. The rock formations I was looking at were truly spectacular, but were not Lord Berkeley's Seat.
“I'll see you on the top of Sgurr Fiona” said Clive, no doubt wondering how his eejut of a walking companion had possibly been capable of climbing so many Munros before without getting totally lost.
I therefore set off up the slopes behind me with the couple who were telling me that she had just climbed her final mainland Munro which was her target as she was not planning on doing the Skye peaks. Impressed, I continued up and finally met Clive on the summit where he had been patiently waiting for me.
What a summit this was, definitely one of the finest I have been on. The views were sensational for the full 360 degrees, combining mountains and lochs and an incredible seascape with the bays and islands off the coast laid out below us. Together we marvelled at the setting, barely able to speak, both overcome with the beauty and majesty of our surroundings, almost at a loss for words. Looking back towards the pinnacles I could see the path I had taken and kicked myself for missing the way up to the col as it was very close to where I had been not long before. Never mind, I had enjoyed my detour.
Neither of us wanted to leave the top and we took our time to take in the sensational views, and I also took in the sensational marmalade sandwiches courtesy of Mrs Grif.
Finally, reluctantly dragging ourselves off the summit, we headed back down to the beallach I had just climbed up from and met up with the couple I had been chatting to earlier. My cunning plan involved me bypassing the next Munro, but nothing said that Clive could not do it again, so we parted company once more and I set off with the couple, who had come over the Munro on the way up so also were bypassing it on the way back. This next part went to plan and, passing a large herd of goats, we made it to the far side of Bidean a'Ghlas Thuill and sat taking in the views until the human mountain goat, Clive, came back into view and joined us once more.
The descent was quite easy as we picked up a good path at the top of the next col, which was not shown on the map, and this led us down at a fairly steady slope, following and then crossing the river, under Meall Garbh, continuing down until the road came back into view and we finally made it back to the car by Dundonnell to complete this circuit in just under eight hours, a thoroughly grand day out in spectacular scenery on a stunning mountain in remarkable weather and great company.
A big thank you to Clive for helping to make this a wonderful circuit and a terrific day which lived up to all expectations. I will be leaving all the pictures for you to post so others can enjoy the views we enjoyed.
As a bonus I can still leave An Teallach as my final Munro, although I may well have to climb Sgurr Fiona again before then, it is too good a mountain to ignore.
by clivegrif » Sat Jun 09, 2012 2:08 pm
Here's the photos to go with Keith's report.
The first view
- 2 Munros and a Corbett??
- A fine but demoted hill
- Beinn Dearg Mor - looking good!
- Can anyone tire of this view?
- What a view!
- ..And another one!
- Keith looking good at 240!
- I can see the sea
- NOT Lord Berkerley's Seat
- Nearing the end of a fine day
- What a place
I'll bung on an additional post to go alongside this, to cover the pointy bits.
What a day!
by Meatball » Sat Jun 09, 2012 7:16 pm
by mountain thyme » Sun Jun 10, 2012 12:55 pm
by Johnny Corbett » Sun Jun 10, 2012 9:09 pm
Was that to rest your wearie auld legs?mountain thyme wrote: i loved that area and could have sat at the summit for hours
by Helen Bruce » Sun Jun 10, 2012 9:19 pm
by mountain thyme » Sun Jun 10, 2012 11:29 pm
Johnny Corbett wrote:A fine detailed report and lovely photosWas that to rest your wearie auld legs?mountain thyme wrote: i loved that area and could have sat at the summit for hours
aye.. because the real hardcore done the fisherfield 6 the day before and then all teallach with full packs....and werenay too tired/ too hungover to miss oot an teallach when at shenavall
by Alastair S » Mon Jun 11, 2012 12:53 pm
Definitely a hill to visit as many times as possible. You also picked the right peak to leave till last as a) although Sgurr Fiona is the finest of the peaks there isn't much room up there for a party & b) Bidein a' Ghlas Thuill from Dundonnell won't challenge anyone unduly but it still has one of the finest viewpoints in the land.
by malky_c » Mon Jun 11, 2012 1:54 pm
Great photos and cunning avoidance of the second summit. I think I took your route when I did it, as the weather was rubbish and it didn't seem like a great idea to follow the skyline.
by Fidman » Mon Jun 11, 2012 2:11 pm
by Clach Liath » Mon Jun 11, 2012 10:14 pm
by 147cjl » Mon Jun 11, 2012 10:28 pm
by KeithS » Mon Jun 11, 2012 10:58 pm
mountain thyme wrote:excellent and lovely pics. i found the skirting around the side part quite exposed and frightening at times. i know what mean about the views. i loved that area and could have sat at the summit for hours
Thanks (pics down to Clive), we both found it very difficult to drag ourselves off the summit.
Helen Bruce wrote:Keith, I quite agree that An Teallach is worth more than one trip, especially on a day like that!
I think I will be back on Sgurr Fiona before I finish my round.
Fidman wrote:Great report, a man after my own (chicken) heart. I am also keeping this for my last Munro.
Thanks, there's nothing wrong with chickens, live to climb another day I say. Good luck on your last Munro
Clach Liath wrote: I think it is quite impressive that you managed to miss Sgurr Fiona first time!
I put it down to enjoying the views so much that I was distracted from route finding
147cjl wrote:great stuff - the 5th picture down with the loch in the bottom right scares me, i can hardly look at it
Johnny Corbett wrote:A fine detailed report and lovely photos
malky_c wrote:Looks like a day to remember
Great photos and cunning avoidance of the second summit.
Thanks for all the comments. It was a day to remember, all the pictures are down to Clive who had to narrow them down from about 200 taken that day, probably took nearly as long as the walk itself
by pollyh33 » Sat Jun 16, 2012 10:12 pm
Thankyou so much for posting such amazing photos. I still have this gem to explore and looking forward to it even more now
PS Belated birthday wishes- outdoor kit included in your presents????