Wednesday, 7 August 2013

An Teallach, Aug'13

Manny was leading this day, here's his tale !
A small but perfectly formed group, Valerie, Mhairi, Marie-Ann, David and Robert gathered at Dundonnell on a stunning clear morning for one of the finest mountain walks in the country. We opted to reverse the advertised route, taking a couple of cars back to our start at Corrie Hallie, thus avoiding the clumpy two miles tarmac walk at the end of the long day.

Our walk in on the main Shenavall-bound track was at a good pace and warm in the sun with no midges or clegs to annoy us. As we gained height and the views opened up it looked like we were on for a perfect day for the traverse. The climb over quartz capped Sail Liath was steep going but rewarded with a sighting by Mhairi of a family of Ptarmigan scuttling out of our way. The delight of cresting the brow to unfold the famous An Teallach ridge was clear. Oohs and aahs at every corner as we worked along the rockery knolls and ledges peering down into Loch Toll an Lochain and at last the steep climb up towards the imposing Corrag Bhuidhe.

Our group was consistently strong and even when gaps did occasionally appear everyone was more than happy to pause and enjoy the view to allow regrouping. Marie-Ann was the bravest to go and climb down onto the big chock stone bridging an enormous drop into the corrie as we all took photos of the group daredevil! Robert aided our route finding along the narrow ledge path by finding a handy alternative to an awkward steep step.

A quick bite to eat then we attacked Lord Berkley’s Seat and then the fantastically exposed wee narrow ridge just beyond, everyone being very careful how they moved! Valerie after initially reserving judgment at the prospect loved the whole situation easily climbing the steeper sections with a smile! Unfortunately cloud had been busy building up over the last hour and a wall of mist was approaching us from the west. After various photo combinations on the airy perches we picked our way back to our packs on the traverse path just as the mist swirled around us.

Manny had a “senior moment” leading everyone down onto a lower traverse path and around the base of the next hill before a large penny dropped – why were we going around Sgurr Fiona?!!! Aaargh, having been thinking quietly of Munro Tops had instead aimed for neighbouring Sgurr Creag an Eich before eating humble pie and having to regain the lost 100ft , now with rain to cool a red face! A short steep climb onto the Munro cairn brought smiles back to everyone, but sadly no view.

A careful drop off the steep rocky north ridge and its many sandstone ledges soon took us to the col with weary legs starting to show on the final climb up our second Munro, Bidean a’ Ghlas Thuill. However we cracked it and as we munched our final sandwiches and took photos in the gloom, the view began to open up for us! We got our just reward with some brilliant atmospheric scenery of the enormous cliffs with swirling mist moving around the crags, and further afield out to the west coast and the far north.

The walk out passed quickly on the well trodden path to begin with then the final steep plunge back to the cars at Dundonnell, David already dreaming of his first glass of recovery wine. Everyone was delighted not to be walking back to their cars with weary legs.

A great day on one of the best Scottish Mountains, shared by a smashing group of strong walkers.