Friendships Forged in Tea - An Teallach

Route: An Teallach, Dundonnell

Munros: Bidein a' Ghlas Thuill (An Teallach), Sgùrr Fiona (An Teallach)

Date walked: 06/05/2017

Time taken: 10 hours

Munros #13 + #14 - Bidein a' Ghlas Thuill and Sgurr Fiona [An Teallach]

To cap off a week of Munro bagging escapades like no other, we had to pray to the sun gods to hold out and give us a Saturday to remember... Sure enough, our prayers were answered. Here's how An Teallach went!

For those who had served much more time in the field i.e. Davie W and Matt T in the Scottish mountains, there was no mightier prize than An Teallach. I had heard the name bandied around as plans were made and squandered endlessly due to the weather. The consensus was this was not just for any day - MWIS needed 90% chance of cloud-free Munros as a minimum! before we would consider it.

Davie, being a master of planning and rising before the earliest of birds, watched the forecasts like a sea eagle and made the call as the day approached. I had been revelling in the hills all week so was more than warmed up and Matt joined the fray. An early, early start (dare I say 4am??) and a nervy drive to Dundonnell, our way from Loch Glascarnoch lit up by cat's eyes on the road and deer's eyes along every verge. 5:30am saw us leave the car behind. Locked, loaded and upwards we went and within minutes, it was sweat - on, layers - off. Very humid and the sun had not long risen, in an effort to chase us upwards!
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The local goat population we had heard so much about

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Strath Beag in the morning glow

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A timeless moment - The Proposal: ''Matt, will you hold my map for me?"

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There's gotta be a way up, somehow...

My memory of the climb to the first summit, Bidein a' Ghlas Thuill, was that it took a long time. In retrospect, it was probably due to me taking soooo manyyyy photos - bearing in mind Davie also shares this time-consuming curiosity with a lens. But the going was gradual and not of great difficulty - looking onto the back of Glas Mheall Mor gave an impression that there was a gruelling, steep pull required. There was, of sorts, but it was negated largely by a zig-zagging, dusty scree path.

The culmination - well, it speaks for itself. Rounding up onto the first Munro of two for the day, and the sun shone a spotlight on possibly Scotland's finest mountain vista.
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Trekking shadows

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Sneaking a peek at Assynt... Suilven :)

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*Cue orchestral music*

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Round about Bidein a' Ghlas Thuill summit

Breakfast was savoured at possibly the most awesome place in the world to sit down and eat with a view - the jagged pinnacles ahead under a strengthening sun screaming out to us with a silent intensity. It became apparent that we were not the only ones blessed with the conditions and the climb - there were already a duo traversing towards Lord Berkeley's Seat and a small convoy of bodies appeared to be heading over from the south, going clock-wise. Our sedentary stop meant the breeze was felt - jackets were donned more for comfort than necessity!
Taking the opportunity to pose for photos is usually observed at the summits only in our group, but on the way round there were several notable vantage points which, given the epic-ness of the day, merited stopping and getting the image mementos.
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Matt taking a knee and Davie staking a claim!

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A climber perched brilliantly ahead

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All still to go for us!!!

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Breakfast spent spotting the climbers and enjoying paradise

So onwards we went, and the descent to the bealach between Bidein a' Ghlas Thuill and Sgurr Fiona was rocky and full of delight. Although as we drew to the start of the ascent, it felt like we had reached the end of 'easy street'. Time to get our heads in the game!
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Incredible depth and layers beyond

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Team photo in the bealach, because why not?!

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My favourite view - over Loch na Sealga and Fisherfield!!

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Matt putting a brave face on before exposed scrambling time

As we ticked off Sgurr Fiona, it was not a crime to stop again and again to soak up the views. Familiar peaks from unfamiliar angles, faraway roads and lochs hinting at past visits and longing glimpses up to our current standpoint. It truly felt like we were in the middle of the country, the centre of the world! The precipitous drop to Toll an Lochain looked like it could only be more enthralling if we had the gift of flight, to soar down to the sparkling waters. Fisherfield presented a maze of summits, ridges and gullies - each looking worth a day out themselves!
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Looking broadly south-west from Sgurr Fiona

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Davie and Matt tower over Toll an Lochain

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Loch Droma and behind, Loch Glascarnoch. Droma gives one of the most iconic 'ground-level' views of this glorious massif

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Could hardly ask for a better day to do it

The Corrag Buidhe pinnacles, inclusive of Lord Berkeley's seat, were an anomaly for our group - we all have so much to live for and the feeling was only intensified by the unbelievable surroundings. Any twitching garnered from watching distorted helmet cam videos of the traverse was soon allayed; we broke down each tower as a team and found the scrambling to be not too technical. One down-climb required a gear assembly-line - the narrow gouge of rock would hold a tentative climber, confident of making a smooth landing - but our bags, cameras and walking poles do not have a mind for self-preservation and there was plenty of room to bid an accidental farewell to any loose ends! Fortunately, teamwork wins out and we, equipment and all, continued.
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Davie's pop-culture references are one of the best things about sharing a walk with him! A homage to Adam and the Ants :)

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A distorted panorama as we are lapped by a group of speedy lads

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Matt takes over photo duties

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Pinky out - 'tog etiquette

With the nerves and underwear still intact, we breathed a collective sigh of relief. We had taken on a fabled mountain traverse and been Forged into men of sterner stuff! All drama was reserved for the outline of this incredible mountain and we had lucked out with the weather.

Things could have been better...
The alignment of our Saturday's expedition to Dundonnell bode well for a rare and exciting sight - The Loch Ewe World War II festival was held on the Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th, with promises of a Spitfire fly-past each afternoon. With Loch Ewe not far away as the crow (or replica aircraft) flies, could it be too much to hope for a scenic appearance of an aeronautical icon, in a glen not so far away?
As the day progressed, we conceded that perhaps it was too far from Poolewe and maybe we should have begged the event organisers prior to our hill day :lol: :roll:

We settled upon some soft grass on Stob Cadha Gobhlach to simply enjoy the sun and relax. Refuel and simply let the clouds saunter by. All this walking was tiring business and I doubt I/we have lingered atop a hill for as long ever since. Maybe because that's when disaster struck - as we lay unawares and care-free!!
"AWWW NOOO!!!" cried Davie from his sunbathing patch - alarm in his voice and immediately prompting Matt and I to respond, a query each as to the emergency.
I'VE SPILLED MY TEA!! :( :( :( :(
Now, I don't know about you, WalkHighlands members, but short of his camera exploding or Davie spontaneously combusting; you must agree, as we did, that losing your brew is devastating! No Spitfire, and no tea... What a horrible turn of events!
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The universal 'Everything is Awesome' sign - woop woop

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Laughing and lounging

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Pre-tea spillage... :'(

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Pictures you can smell !! (I jest, of course)

Having now hit high noon, all that was left was to round off the mountain, descend and get back to the car. Much protestation was made as still, more views, more intrigue and the balmy weather kept us wanting more. To descend is to concede defeat 8) but we had to call it a successful day. Views out to open sea were not graced with a Spitfire roaring by, but with hazy islands, mountains of every shape and other people clambering all over An Teallach, popping in and out of view.
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Poolewe / Skye direction?

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A couple of hikers coming off Bidein a' Ghlas Thuill, across the way!

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Davie getting another look into the Coire

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Might as well :)

The descent from Sail Liath was hard on tired limbs - I tend to keep light on my feet and punish my knees, but my progress was notable when Davie took a tumble. One of those 'full-on' unintended fights with a boulder in the boulder field. A dampener on the descent, but he was able to carry on and we took our time. It was certainly a long way down, and a long way out, to the track, which was a long way to the footbridge and the refreshing toe-dip pitstop, which was a long way from the woodland which drops you down onto the road. It must have seemed worse than it was, but it tends to feel endless when all you wanna do is stay up there forever!
Oh, and the walk back along the road was a long way from the car :lol: :lol:

Rough walk time - 10 hours
Conditions - Excellent, bluebird day
Munros bagged - 2
Crying over spilled tea - Yes
Top 5 Mountain day? - Forged at An Teallach 8)
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Pre-descent head-in-the-clouds

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The long way down is also the long way up!

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Looking down Strath na Sealga, Shenevall hidden bottom right third

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Years on and we still need to tackle Fisherfield... 2021 ?

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Location: Nurn
Occupation: Railway
Interests: Hill walking, photography, wild camping, flyfishing, writing, white water kayaking, rollerblading, gorge walking, cliff jumping and more!
Activity: Mountain Walker
Pub: Drouthy Cobbler
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Place: Dulsie Bridge
Gear: Rab VaporRise Guide trous
Member: BMC
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Ideal day out: A photogenic, interesting hill day with ridges, mild scrambling and waterfalls
Ambition: Munro compleatist/happy

Munros: 49
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