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Challenging An Teallach - sunny, stormy, tired
by Grisu » Sun Sep 15, 2019 6:57 pm
Route description: An Teallach, Dundonnell
Munros included on this walk: Bidein a'Ghlas Thuill (An Teallach), Sgurr Fiona (An Teallach)
Date walked: 25/07/2019
Time taken: 8 hours
Distance: 17 km
Ascent: 1214m3 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).
Although my comprehension of walk descriptions has improved over the last two years, I still get confused at the start, either because I have missed a tiny information, or because I was missing information, or because the description simply makes no sense to me.
Looking out for signs of the Dundonnel Hotel I suddenly saw the two Bungalows to my left and a little party vanishing into the woods. I then decided to pull over to a car park a little bit down of the road to my right short after a telephone boot and a sign showing the path to Dundonnel Cemetary.
At the parking was a building of Mountain Rescue but still no sign or sight of the Dundonnel Hotel, it must be around the following curve, and I wondered whether I was on the right parking, if parking there was allowed at all, but couldn't find any sign against, and why this building was not mentioned in the descripiton.
It was the first time that I was walking in this area which adds to my general unsureness which I feel when I am on my own on completely unknown terrain. But despite this irritation I set off and got more and more confident following the path as described and finally caught up with the little party I have seen at the start, having a little breather. We had a short chat about directions, maps and descriptions before I resumed my walk. Later I saw them taking the valley route while I followed WH's walk description for Sron a Choire. I almost missed a sharp turn to the right if I had not cought sight of a big cairn out of the corner of my eyes marking a narrow rocky path leading upwards steeply at first.
On my way over the ridge of Meall Garbh I was very grateful for all the little cairns indicating the direction. At each cairn I added a stone, blessing everybody who cared for the cairns to make the navigation over this rocky section so much easier!
Despite my little weariness about the path, always looking out for the next cairn, I enjoyed the very good and long distance views around.
Although I had no real problems to find the path as described in WH: paved with flat Sandstone slabs, the description of the following section is still a mystery to me.
In the meantime the wind has become nerverackingly strong, hissing and swooshing in my ears which always makes me very tired. Therefore I was not too excited when I finally saw my destinations rising up behind the boulder ridge.
When I reached a cairn before the last pull my mood was a bit down.
Therefore I followed a line parallel the ridge in the hope to find an easier way up to the summit . Several times I heard voices and saw walkers on the 'high road', wondering how to get to the path they obviously were following. But the 'lower road' sheltered me a bit from the wind for a while, only the scree probably made walking along not easier. When I finally reached the bealach between Bidein a'Ghlas Thuill and Sgurr Fiona I realizied that I actually have missed the first summit and decided not to take the steep ascent up Sgurr Fiona, but leaving it for the descent on my way back.
Instead I kept following a faint line around and finally started scrambling over the rocks from the northwest ridge. Again I have lost the path over this rocky section somehow but I rejoined it short before the summit, wondering what was going on with me and why I was not able to stay on the path.
So then, Sgurr Fiona eventually was the first munro of the day after 3 hours and a half and I got rewarded with really good views, only spoiled by the stormy wind which made it difficult to take pictures.
I tried a video instead, just listen: https://www.flickr.com/photos/184443863@N07/shares/0R309C
Despite my exposed position I watched two walkers coming over the ridge from Corrag Buidhe. Fascinated by the ridge I forgot my tiredness and moody mood almost instantly and was contemplating to keep on going, but then, with the missed summit it made no real sense and yet there was this strong wind, so I finally dropped that idea.
The two walkers obviously took a break to enjoy the views and I turned around for my descent this time the "right way" down the bealach.
Half way down I suddenly heard some different sounds other than the wind and when I turned around the two walkers from the ridge were close behind me: mountain runners! they are always so impressive!
We had a wee chat and after a few minutes they were down and up the next ascend while I was making slow progress getting down, trying to keep my balance in the stormy wind and not to twist my ankle or knee on the rocky ground.
The following ascent was much quicker and on the summit I saw father and son from the little party I have met at beginning.
The wind was even stronger on the summit of Bidein a'Ghlas Thuill.
So it made no sense to stay for enjoying the really good views, instead I took another video: https://www.flickr.com/photos/184443863@N07/shares/60z503
We started descending together chatting all the way down against the noise of the wind until we met the mother who was waiting at the bottom, enjoying the sun.
We soon said good bye and I hoped I would be down in time to get a supper at the Dundonnell Hotel and therefore I took the valley route because I didn't like to go back the same way which seemed to be longer and more time consuming over the rocks.
I was very confident that my plan would work because I made good progress, very happy that the wind was not so strong anymore until I reached the muddy and boggy part of this route. That slowed me down considerably and in vain effort to avoid the muddiest places I finally lost the path.
For a little while I still saw one cairn and another and got back to the track but I lost the traces again and again until I was completely disorientated. Seeing my red Renault Modus steep down at the car park was the only orientation I had which was at least a bit reassuring.
For quite some time I desparately tried to find my way back to the path, finally realizing that this made no sense I gave up, remembering walks with groups where we had pretty steep descends over grassy and rough ground with no path at all and so I decided to find my own way and struggled down slowly, slowly, very carefully, wishining I would have gone over the ridge, it felt much safer than this.
From time to time I had to fight off panic, only glad that I did not have to hurry because of the daylight and very glad about the weather and the temperature apart from a few very shadowy places.
Around half past eight I finally was back to my car, very relieved, not feeling my hunger, only wishing to get back to my comfortable and well protected Bed&Breakfast, Braemore Walled Garden, and looking forward to take a relaxing bath and finally getting into my cosy bed.
This adventure took its toll. I actually came to this place to do the Fisherfields 6. An Teallach was only an option in case the conditions were not right and the weather forecast was not very clear, that's why I decided to go for An Teallach. But now I was a bit shaken and additionally didn't really feel fit enough mentally for an early start for this epic walk, so I postponed it to next year's holidays.
- Summer Isles
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