Perhaps, it was anxieties about Covid, but more likely the excitement of a big hike, I arose early, much earlier than planned, so was able to take a more leisurely time to prepare and get some breakfast in me. A chicken noodle cup-a-soup, chicken pasta among other things were best I could do within my room Once ready, I headed west looking for the start point at Inverlael and as usual, started to think I had missed it, however the nerve held long enough to prevent me from turning back and I was relieved to see the phone box and car park, just at the right time. Not much signs of life at 6.30 a.m.
It was a bit murky, but hopefully the weather would be much kinder. I had my fears about the long wander into the back of beyond, especially if the cloud, or rain closed in. Had to do a bit of checking taking right forest tracks, especially the one after Glensguaib, which is obscured somewhat by summer growth. The steep going soon makes the pleasant approach a thing of the past, but the good thing was it made me stop to draw breath and in doing so, turned to get my first amazing view of An Teallach, especially dramatic in the early light. Wonderful, but who could I tell?
Moving out from the forest the track becomes more peaty and squelchy here and there, but the gradient has been put behind me and makes for easier going. Vis isn't too bad, but I can't make out any hills, cloud covered as they are. Not to worry, I am confident I am on the right track and the feeling of freedom, no lockdown, no one else just me, is nice for a while.
Crossing the Allt Gleann a' Mhadaidh, was no problem, so it was just a matter of staying on track across the desolate moor, gradually rising around An Socach, toward the lochan's. And then, just like that, the track ends, or does it? Mmmh? Bit of searching, checking soon put me right as to where to cross the burn and circle the pretty little lochan and again, hooking onto the track through the pass here. Felt a bit lonely, spooky, as I knew I was getting well out on a limb, with the more tricky part still to navigate.
The WH's route notes are then spot on, as one emerges onto even more featureless landscape and the track evaporates. A few tiny "cairns" did help me for a while, but then I must have lost my bearings a bit, being lured by seeing my target, into taking a more direct route. Fortunately, with visibility being so good, there was no chance (or, not much ) of me just walking off the crags which barred my route. In fog, I daresay that risk would not be impossible.
Anyway, I handrailed the crags till finding a huge chunk of quartzite and suitable nearby gully to descend toward the Gate of Ca'- derg and the fine crags around the corrie. Decided to take in the 905, spot and the fine views into Luchd Choire. Magnificent, also! From there it was just another 20 minutes around the rim of the corrie and onto the summit of Seana Bhraigh. Wow, wasn't expecting that! Steep drop off and not too far at all from the windshelter. Other people have described the views better, but despite not being too clear, could make out some hills in Assynt, Stac Pollaidh, Beinn Dearg 4, Fannich's, Torridon, Fisherfield and of course, An Teallach. A lot of film was expended - well, it would have been if things weren't digital
On the way in, I had spent some time sizing up possible diversion to do Eididh nan Clach Geala. The idea appealed, even if the legs might have other thoughts. Viewed from here and checking on map, suggested it could be do-able. Let's just wait till we're in the neighborhood, I thought, as I finished another sandwich and drink. I took the more direct route of return, skirting round the top of the crags of Cadha Dearg, as close as I dare.
I managed to find the same gully I had descended and made my way more directly to back toward the established tracks along the Allt an Lochan Sgeirich. I could see a couple of options for heading off to the Clach Geala. The legs were a bit weary, but time was still on my side. Is there much point doing it now? Maybe not, but I thought it would only cost me an hour, hour and a half, so just do it! Fortunately, the ground in between held no great problems and all went to plan. I think it was just about 35 minutes off my track.
The views are definitely better to the south from the hill rather than viewing the hill from the north Took plenty more pics, refueled and again, mulled over options. Getting carried away now, I thought I could even head over Meall nan Ceapraichean, then out. A fairly short excursion ended when I got a better view of the steeper descent and ascent that would involve. Back to EnCG. I could maybe just descend off it to the west, to meet my inbound track? Tried that also, but soon shied away from that, so returned to my original plan, or rejoining the route up by the lochan's. So, all in all, I think taking in the second munro cost me about an hour and twenty/thirty, though I did spend some time faffing about
I enjoyed the route back out, as things were generally looking a bit brighter, with a great panorama of hills to feast upon, with the eyes always being drawn back to the sheer spectacle of An Teallach and thoughts along the lines, of "could I ever do that??" I hope so. I skipped and trotted long here and there as the gradient and track was just fine for getting a move on ..... and I still had a four and a half hour trip home ahead
Finally, met the first folk of the day at Glensguaib and another chap walking a dog, but that was all I had for company, other than memory upon memory, as I made it back to the car, with the tank running on empty, but the heart and head filled to the brim with the satisfaction of an unbeatable day in the hills. It may have been a long drive, but my head was buzzing the whole way home!
Bruno wrote:A great report, most enjoyable. Lovely pictures, too.