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Fright of my life from the black beast of An Teallach!
by dogplodder » Sun Apr 07, 2013 8:14 pm
Route description: An Teallach, Dundonnell
Munros included on this walk: Bidein a'Ghlas Thuill (An Teallach)
Date walked: 13/06/20095 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).
Back in the '80s and '90s when our kids were young we spent summer holidays in Inverasdale and Laide from where we could see An Teallach. It dominates the landscape for miles and my eyes were drawn to it from wherever we went. One day when my sons were 10 and 8 we walked in to the bothy at Shenavall via the lower shoulder of Sail Liath which was a 10 mile round trip - the longest they'd ever walked. Now as men with families of their own they both enjoy hill walking - so I'm glad to know it didn't put them off!
In those days the urge "to get to the top" hadn't kicked in with me and even when it did I thought An Teallach was out of my league. But 25 years later, reading this site made me realise the two Munros of An Teallach can be done by the back door and without going over the pinnacles. So when rain was forecast for the whole of the Highlands apart from a pocket south of Ullapool I suggested it to Moira. To begin with she was sceptical, but I persuaded her. There's a good path up to Bidean a' Ghlas Thuill and if we were uncomfortable at any point we could just turn round and come back.
We parked in Dundonnell and walked back towards the start of the path, finding a pair of walking poles lying at the side of the road. Seeing a group of walkers ahead we picked them up and shouted to them had anyone lost poles. They said no they hadn't but they'd take them anyway. They were part of a Mountain Rescue team out on a training exercise so we handed them over. But I did wonder if the owner of the poles came back looking for them - by which time they'd have been half way up An Teallach!
I didn't pay close enough attention to WH's advice to follow the older path rather than the newer one, which is inclined to be boggy. We just followed 'the path' and without any conscious decision ended up on the newer version, which we didn't find particularly boggy, although the views west would have been better if we'd gone up Meall Garbh on the older path. The skies were overcast all day but bearing in mind everywhere else had rain it wasn't too bad a day!
Our route up the Allt a Mhuillin
Gruinard Bay and Laide where we spent holidays in the '80s and '90s
The downside of taking the new path was the incident of the kamikaze black sheep which, if a sharp-eyed farmer had been about, could have been the end of my dog. We were on the steep part just before it levels out leading to Sron a' Choire when a lone black sheep suddenly exploded out from behind a rock right in front of me and my male dog Jack and hurtled down the slope with Jack in hot pursuit. If ever you've been startled by grouse bursting out of the heather in front of you just magnify that a few times for the shock decibels an unexpected black beast produces!
Apart from the shock this was not a good situation. If I suspect there are sheep on the hill I make sure Jack is on the lead (Tess doesn't bother with sheep) but I'd seen no sign of sheep lower down and wasn't expecting to find any lurking this high up. It must have been the proverbial black sheep of the family! From the dog's point of view having a sheep suddenly bolting in front of his nose triggered his hard wired instincts to chase but I knew fine if the farmer was about he had the undisputed right to shoot the dog dead and ask questions later. So I was very scared.
I blasted on the whistle and Moira who was lower down saw what happened. Jack raced past the sheep did a U turn and ran back up the slope to where I was. I didn't know whether to tell him off for chasing it or praise him for coming back! He knew he'd done wrong, got a stern talking to and was on the lead for most of the rest of the day. Uncontrolled dogs can do a lot of damage and it's down to the owners to keep their dogs under control. There are times and places I don't take Jack. At lambing time even the sight of a dog on a lead can stress a ewe so it's best to leave the dog at home.
The culprit (on another day on a different hill)
Once my heart returned to normal we carried on up Sron a' Choire and on to the pavement of sandstone slabs at the col.
Glas Mheall Mor from ascent of Sron a' Choire
Moira's pic showing path winding up Sron a' Choire
A suitably subdued Jack - and Tess who wasn't sure what all the fuss was about
Glas Mheal Mor
We climbed to the top of the little top on the left before descending to follow the path up steeply through scree and boulders. Going up the way we did (round the back of the mountain) you don't see the pinnacle ridge until just below the summit. The cloud was blowing in and we thought we wouldn't see anything and then suddenly we were there and the view was spectacular.
First sighting of the ridge
A zoomed shot of Moira's showing what could be a person on far left pinnacle
Moira's pic of Sail Liath with Fannichs and Fisherfields beyond
With the cloud blowing in it was very atmospheric and even the dogs seemed awed by their surroundings - which was just as well with precipitous slopes on all sides.
Moira et les chiens
Cloud closing in
Destitution road and Fannichs
It's a short pull up from that viewing platform to the trig point at the top of Bidean a' Ghlas Thuill (1062m) where we met two guys who offered to take our photo.
Glas Mheall Liath and distant Destitution road
Corrag Bhuidhe pinnacles and Sgurr Fiona
Coire Toll an Lochain
In the time we spent at the summit soaking in the views the cloud over Sgurr Fiona had cleared.
Red Torridonian sandstone which is thought to have given the name "Forge" to the mountain
We now had to decide would we go on and climb Sgurr Fiona or leave plenty of time for a meal in the Aultguish. We were tempted to go on, we hummed and we hawed, but we knew Evelyn wanted to climb An Teallach so it would make sense to come back and finish it with her... and the Aultguish won!
Because of the sheep chasing incident I kept Jack on the lead wherever I thought sheep could be lurking - which meant I couldn't use my poles going down. But he was very good, didn't pull at all and waited at the tricky rocky bits when I could put my hand on his shoulder to steady me going down. So he did manage to redeem himself for earlier bad behaviour. We only saw one other dog all day and it was the mountain rescue collie we met right at the start. Not sure where they headed but we never saw them again!
Looking back from Destitution road (A832)
Sheep incident apart we'd had a fabulous day and the icing on the cake was to be told in the Aultguish that the Fannichs had been rained on for most of the day - and we'd not had a drop!
It's good to read of dogs actually being trained how to behave as too often I meet dogs who are allowed to do exactly as they please, runing all over the place and jumping up at me, owners nowadays dont seem to train the dogs to behave any more.
by BlackPanther » Mon Apr 08, 2013 10:32 am
Funny, my TR from An T. (climbed in 2009) is still waiting to be posted We traversed the Forge clockwise, starting from Sail Liath. I looked at the scramble up to the pinnacles, but decided it wasn't for me and took the bypass path, which turned out to be just as exposed We kept to the path and continued past the col, but only half way up Bidein A'Ghlas Thuill we realised that we had missed Sgurr Fiona!!! It wasn't a problem for Kevin, cause he had done An T. twice before (one of his fav hills), but I went nuts! I dragged him back all the way up to the summit of Sgurr Fiona. It was one of those "scorchio" summer days, +30 or so, an absolute frying pan... It took us 10 hours to traverse the mountain altogether and we crawled back to Corrie Hallie
I must go back to An T. to try the pinnacles
by GillC » Mon Apr 08, 2013 10:48 am
by dogplodder » Mon Apr 08, 2013 12:19 pm
morag1 wrote:It's good to read of dogs actually being trained how to behave as too often I meet dogs who are allowed to do exactly as they please, runing all over the place and jumping up at me, owners nowadays dont seem to train the dogs to behave any more.
Oh Morag don't get me started. So many folk aren't prepared to put the work in with their dogs. I like dogs but still don't appreciate being lept on by a muddy pawed hooligan - and I know children who've been terrified by hyper bouncy dogs while the daft owner stands there cooing "He only wants to play....".
by dogplodder » Mon Apr 08, 2013 12:54 pm
BlackPanther wrote:The mighty Forge always gives me shivers... Coire Toll an Lochain, Sgurr Fiona and the pinnacles - here comes one of the best views in Scotland!
Funny, my TR from An T. (climbed in 2009) is still waiting to be posted
Well what's stopping you?
It's funny but I thought of you when reliving the moment the black beast made me jump out of my skin. For a nanosecond it could have been the infamous Black Panther known for lurking in mountainous places!
by soulminer » Mon Apr 08, 2013 4:33 pm
My two would have done exactly the same in that situation, if the sheep was just pottering about- I doubt they would bother much with it. Feel the same about taking them out at certain times, or to places where I know sheep are abundant- just in case !
You should definately get yourself back up and finish it off
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by kath098 » Mon Apr 08, 2013 8:43 pm
by dogplodder » Mon Apr 08, 2013 9:33 pm
GillC wrote: My walking buddy just doesnt want to take on the unknown areas like that now,,think I might have to go looking for some group walks to these places
Gill you'd be welcome to join us any time the time and place suited.
by rockhopper » Mon Apr 08, 2013 10:22 pm
by dogplodder » Mon Apr 08, 2013 10:55 pm
My two would have done exactly the same in that situation, if the sheep was just pottering about- I doubt they would bother much with it.
Thanks SM, don't feel so bad if your two would have done likewise. Think it's the adrenalin rush that short circuits the latent wolf brain into chase mode - but at least he didn't take a mouthful when he could have!
by Scotjamie » Tue Apr 09, 2013 9:05 am
As a mountain feartie, I may well use this route.
by dogplodder » Tue Apr 09, 2013 11:44 am
kath098 wrote:I've also completed Bidean a' Ghlas Thuill but not Sgurr Fiona, so I think that is one we must do together.
I'm scheming this one as we speak!
by dogplodder » Tue Apr 09, 2013 2:28 pm
rockhopper wrote:Another interesting and well written report, DP - enjoyed that and glad your dog came back ! Haven't got to these hills yet - am waiting for good weather (which may be a long wait ) - cheers
It's a fabulous mountain - you'll love it!
by dogplodder » Fri Apr 12, 2013 8:45 am
Scotjamie wrote:Thanks for a smashing report dp
As a mountain feartie, I may well use this route.
Nothing to worry about on the section we did - although have to admit I'd love to do the full ridge and wonder how much harder it is than the Forcan ridge which was no problem...