An Teallach

An Teallach classic traverse, 31 August 2020

A blog post from one of our mountain adventures in the Scottish hills and mountains. A day aiming along An Teallach's classic ridge traverse and up the two Munro summits of Sgurr Fiona and Bidean a'Ghlas Thuill. John King and Christine Menhennet were leading, here's Christine's tale.

An Teallach classic traverse



It's good to be back !

No beating about the gorse bush, I was looking forward to co-guiding this gig - my first since lock-down and an injury, working as second guide to John King. The group, the day and the majestic heap that is An Teallach did not disappoint. The skies were fifty shades of grey but high, visibility was excellent and the winds were to be light; there was a chance of sunshine later. Ten of us were due to meet at 8.30am in the Corrie Hallie layby; by 8.20am John, myself and six of us were there and introduced; by 8.28am we were nine, Eleanor had been hiding in her car from the midges who, quite frankly, will need to get a grip of staycations and social distancing! Johnny, our final man, rocked up in style at 8.29am, and we were off.

John set a business-like pace up the wide stoney track that heads south west from Corrie Hallie, whilst Johnny (a professional whisky taster), gave us some whisky tasting tips for the future; this was a good start, even if early in the morning! We briefly chatted to some on-comers who were doing the Cape Wrath Way, and learned that Shenaval bothy was shut but then again, not really shut, if you were stuck.

We paused at the foot of the steep climb up the south easterly spur of Sail Liath (The Grey Heel), for an explanation of the route ahead and a wee energy intake. Although the route up this slope can be a bit of a slog, all of us were inspired by the huge clarity of views into the wild glens and peaks of Fisherfield. Photo taking started in earnest once we reached the summit of Sail Liath (954m) and then the airy path between Corrag Bhuidhe Buttress and Stob Cadha Goblach enticed us further.

At this point we agreed to split up for a wee while; John King then led the Bold over the punky pinnacles, whilst I led the Canny along the equally stunning bypass route, to the agreed lunch spot and our first Munro summit Sgurr Fiona (1060m); here we did our first virtual high five! The Canny lunched on a boulder ledge out of the wind taking in the views across Loch na Sheallag towards Gruinard and far beyond to the Outer Hebrides. There was however, an autumn chill and so we continued on to our second Munro, Bidean Ghlas a Thuill (1062m). At this summit, we all reconvened and gazed back at the gigantic buttresses and dramatic tiered arena behind us. Covid 19 best practice prevented us from sharing our whisky taster's summit dram but we certainly shared in spirit (yes - pun intended!). It was clear from the chat that the star of the punk pinnacle route had been Angela from Oban, who had overcome a particular wee fear and climbing struggle, however as guides, we know everyone triumphs on these more airy trips.

After many more photos, we descended the zig zag track towards the bealach north of our final summit and were distracted by a large black goat who, for a mere second, we thought might be Steven Fallon in disguise, come to join us; however, it clearly had a very different route in mind!

Descents get a tad more challenging for the knees as you get older – whether you are a punter or guide to be honest; accordingly, the rest of the group scuttled down the scree from the bealach into Coire a Glas Thuill, but Arthur and I took our time whilst discussing all manner of things from choirs and dramas, to frogs and flowers. The descent meanders alongside the tumbling Garbh Allt, past waterfalls and ancient torn pines to the bog myrtled lower slopes and finally, rhododendron thickets. The lore of the rhododendron thickets at the end of this magnificent walk needs to be learned; let's just say – John King got it right and I got it right-ish by 50 meters but we all made it back to the layby in time for goodbyes!

A wonderful day with a fit and fun loving group !

More photos by John King and Christine Menhennet are here on Flickr.



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