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Surprise - it's An Teallach!

PostPosted: Mon Nov 04, 2019 6:47 pm
by malky_c
Munros: Bidein a' Ghlas Thuill, Sgurr Fiona.
Date: 15/10/2019.
Distance: 18 km (walking), 4.5km (cycling).
Ascent: 1380m.
Time: 7 hours, 40 minutes.
Weather: Calm, clear and sunny. Also a bit chilly.

...well, it surprised me anyway. After having breakfast at the Lochinver Larder, we were heading south with some fairly leisurely plans for the day (Sail Mhor at best). An Teallach was looking great in the late morning light as we descended into Strathcanaird, and before we knew it, we had decided to go up it instead! After debating the pinnacles for a bit, we decided that we would be starting rather late, so I came up with a longer (!) route to avoid them. It was one I had fancied for some time, and took in at least one new Munro top.

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Ardessie Falls

We dumped the bikes by the Ardessie Falls to save a bit of time later on, and parked up near the MRT base. We were finally on our way by midday, conditions looking even better than they had earlier. I've never been up the path behind Dundonnell before - it was quite interesting, never clear where it was going to go next, but always revealing itself at the last minute.


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Beinn nam Ban

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Little Loch Broom

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Glas Mheall Mor

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Seana Bhraigh to Beinn Dearg

I had thought to go up Glas Mheall Mor, but we took a wrong (or possibly right) fork and ended up on the rolling plateau to the west of the main mountain rather than on the floor of Coir' a' Mhuilinn. Didn't really matter as it was probably a better route, but Glas Mheall Mor was now quite a diversion away, so we left it for another time. As we gained height, the twin summits of Bidein a' Ghlas Thuill and Sgurr Fiona gradually dominated the view, quite different from the rolling surroundings. Once at the col above Glas Tholl, we passed a couple descending followed by around 30 soldiers - quite a crowd, but the only place we would see other folk today.

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Desert to the west of An Teallach

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Bidein a' Ghlas Thuill and Sgurr Fiona

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Overlooking Glas Tholl

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Sgurr Dearg

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Army

We followed a steep scrabbly path to the summit of Bidein a' Ghlas Thuill, regretted slightly afterwards as it missed the north ridge. But it didn't matter - what a view!

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Coire Mor an Teallaich

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Back to Glas Mheall Mor

I have only been up on these summits once before, in 2001 when the weather was foul. A couple of attempts made since then, with the most recent (in 2008) ending in tragedy with the death of a friend and work colleague who slipped and fell off the ridge. Ever since then I have soured on An Teallach a bit, despite it being one of the most exciting mountains in the NW, and it has taken me until now to feel like going up it again. Obviously it was something worth getting over, as it is an inanimate object despite the experiences and memories connected to it, and it would be a shame to avoid it forever.

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An Teallach

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Fannaichs

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Glas Mheall Liath

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Jackie on Bidein a' Ghlas Thuill

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Loch Toll an Lochain

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Classic view

Despite the forecast predicting strong gusts, it was relatively calm up top, but the wind that did exist was pretty chilly! We had a break but didn't hang around for more than 20 minutes or so, preferring to stop frequently all the way round the route for photos.

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Descending the Bidein

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Crags on Sgurr Fiona

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Looking back to the Bidein

Sgurr Fiona was another steep ascent, but soon we were perched on the summit. Being quite late in the day, the long shadows cast by Sgurr Fiona on Bidein were impressive, but not as much as the shadow of Beinn Dearg Mor cast over Loch na Sealga. The pinnacles were also admired and we wondered whether we should have included them. Always another day though, and our ridge to the west looked great as well.

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Sail Mhor

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Lord Berkley's Seat

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The rest of the route

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Bidein a' Ghlas Thuill

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Beinn Dearg Mor reflections

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Into the heart of Fisherfield

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Bidein a' Ghlas Thuill from Sgurr Fiona

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Sgurr Creag an Eich

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Bidein a' Ghlas Thuill

Down we went towards Sgurr Creag an Eich, which was steep but easy. Looking back up the ridge though, it looked to be all rock and completely impregnable. The ridge onwards was narrow but just a walk - lovely in the evening light.

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Lord Berkley's Seat prominent

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Sgurr Creag an Eich

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On the Sgurr Creag an Eich ridge

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Back of the pinnacles

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Jackie approaching Sgurr Creag an Eich

Eventually I did manage to include a new Munro top in the walk. At this rate it will take me about 40 years just to do all of the An Teallach tops, never mind anything else!

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Bidein a' Ghlas Thuill and Sgurr Fiona

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South towards Torridon

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Loch na Sealga

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NW from Sgurr Creag an Eich

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Back of An Teallach

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Sgurr Ruadh

Then it was down towards Sgurr Ruadh, which was steep early on but soon levelled out. We crossed plenty of scree fields before dropping down more heathery slopes into Coire Mor an Teallaich. What next - easy going, surely?

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Last light for photos

Wrong! The burn in the corrie was actually flowing rather rapidly, and there was an interesting look of fear on Jackie's face as we managed to find a way across. After that, the ground wasn't especially bad but we were tiring, and it was along way in the failing light to the head of the path down to the Ardessie Falls. The path becomes particularly awful on the final descent to the road, although there is a series of impressive slabs, gorges and waterfalls. Unfortunately it was largely dark by now so we could barely see them. Jackie decided to get her headtorch out but I could still just about see, so I ran ahead slightly to get out of the beam. Finally there was a 15 minute cycle back to the car into the wind - at least a good 40 minutes of walking was saved. One of the best autumn days out in a while...but there was still more to come 8).