Our blog - An Teallach, 11 Aug'18

A blog of our mountain adventures in Scotland, hiking, biking, rock-scrambling and more !

An Teallach

11 August 2018
A day having fun scrambling on An Teallach and bagging its two Munro summits. Christine Menhennet and Al Ewen were leading, here's Christine's tale....

Superlatives abound when reading guide-site descriptions of An Teallach – my favourite is probably from the UKHillwaking web page, describing this mountain massif as a 'monumental cirque of tiered walls and crazy sandstone towers' - it is, a positively punk mountain! Hoping that our group could enjoy this fabulous arena to the full, Steven, my co-guide Alistair Ewan and I, were all relieved when, after a week or so of conflicting, uncertain and potentially disappointing weather forecasts, the end-up for our chosen day was for light breezes, clear tops and no rain; so, plan B was kicked into touch, and myself, Al and our group of eight met as planned on Saturday morning at the Corrie Hallie layby.

As a smart, bekilted, young fella stepped out of his car carrying his bagpipes, we could have been forgiven for thinking that our group was going to be given a ceremonial send off, but soon realised that his services had been summoned for the start of The Great Wilderness Challenge (a trail race from Corrie Hallie to Poolewe); the event start was prompt, driven by a high midge irritation factor, leaving us to depart at a slightly more leisurely place.

We made good time up the wide, stony track that heads south-west from Corrie Hallie, taking the right fork at the top of the watershed across heathery terrain to the foot of An Teallach's south easterly spur Sail Liath (the 'grey heel') and from here we gained height, and increasingly spectacular views, quite quickly.

After a pause to have a quick drink, take early photos and tease Malcolm about his much loved (by him) jumper, we enjoyed the airiness of the narrow path to the coll between Corrag Bhuidhe Buttress and Stob Cadha Goblach; here we stopped for a snack and took the opportunity to practice some easy scrambling over some of the frost sculpted mini towers. The gritty sandstone offered great grip and good holds, helping to build the confidence of those individuals who were a little nervous about the challenge of more exposed scrambling.

Led by Alistair, we then avoided the very exposed pinnacle scrambles by taking the nonetheless attention-demanding and winding contour path which passes to the west of, and just below, the pinnacles and affording great views of terminal moraines and the Fisherfield hills plus a sad glimpse of an ageing mountain hare huddled by a boulder. Our path rejoined the pinnacle route at the coll before a steady climb to the summit of our first and most dramatic Munro of the day, Sgurr Fiona ('light coloured peak'. For some, the priority here was a butty and a breather – for others, inspired by Kenneth's determination to go see and pose, it was the chance to scramble up Lord Berkley's Seat – the last pinnacle (from our direction of travel), towering at a jaunty angle above Loch Toll an Lochain; had we been purists to legend, we would have smoked a pipe whilst dangling our legs over its' precipitous edge - but we forgot the baccy!

After a sociable lunch break chatting to members of the other groups on the hill, we ascended Sgurr Fiona and then dropped to the coll at 916m which afforded great views back to the great buttresses of this massif. Our second and final Munro of the day was the highest on the ridge - Bidean a Ghlas Thuill (apparent meaning - 'Place of the Grouse Cocks') from where we once again, gazed back in awe at the imposing, serrated mountain arena.

Our descent was via the coire of the same name and along a path that twisted its way through clumps of indifferent looking but gloriously resinous Bog Myrtle (Sweet Gale); the scent of this wee shrub allegedly repels midges - surely it should be a cash crop?!

Recent rains had restored the gushing, brown drama of the Garbh Allt waterfall and a scattering of bleached, dead Scots Pine stood stark against a darkening sky. Our burn-side path then plunged into a maze of rhododendrons finally twisting its way out to the road, the exit point being marked by three old walking boots hanging from a random branch; I wish I had taken a photo of this unique marker point as I can't find one on Google Images!

More photos by Christine, Al and some of the participants are here on Flickr.

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