An Teallach, a game of two halves
Area: Loch Maree to Loch Broom
Munro’s: Bidein a’Ghlas Thuill (An Teallach), Sgurr Fiona (An Teallach)
Date walked: 05/07/2012
Time taken: 5.25 hours
Distance: 17 km
Well, you might think that you could book a few days holiday from work in the summer in Scotland and get some good weather. Well think again. Actually maybe I am being a tad pessimistic. After all it’s only the beginning of July. That’s not summer, right? Mind you if I cast my mind back, not that I watch tennis, I am sure it always rains during or through the Wimbledon fortnight and guess what, yes it’s that time of year again. Cmon Andy. Could this be his year? Semi-finals again as I speak.
Ok, I was due to drive up to Corrie Hallie on the Wednesday night and walk the infamous An Teallach but a few beers got in the way so as a consequence I didn’t set of until Thursday morning. The weather was not looking too bad as I drove north. When I drove through Garve the temperature was 30 degrees of blazing sunshine although there were rain clouds hanging around here and there. The forecast North of Inverness was for sunshine with the odd localised thunderstorm. Inspiring eh? What is a localised thunderstorm you might well ask. Well I managed to find out hahaha.
I arrived at the parking area late on the Thursday at 1420. With the weather as it was I decided to drop some kit something I rarely do. Out went the waterproof bottoms. Out went the waterproof shelter. Off came the gaiters. On went the sunshades. I am now kitted out for a nice summer walk hahaha. My enthusiasm for this walk was inspired by various excellent reports and I was certainly looking forward to it with relish. However I had not been well since Monday suddenly coming down with an extremely sore throat and a bad cold and was not sure how I was going to feel on what should be an exciting and scary climb over the pinnacles. However as I said with the time off booked I had to give it a shot.
So Suited and booted I left the car and headed up the track opposite which slowly climbs up past the forest for 3km or so, over the wooden bridge then meandering up the hill to the cairns indicating the path to Shenavil where I met two walkers out for a low level walk in the sunshine today. There was a slight warm breeze keeping the midges on the ground but there were hundreds of deer clegs flying around, silently landing on me and sinking there knashers into my skin to feed of the river of blood that ensued forth.
I must have looked a right sight because every so often I would windmill my arms around and slap myself to kill the buggers hahaha. So, continuing on this path for another 1km or so I then head directly west up the pathless hillside then North West to the summit of Sail liath. The heat was incredible and I was absolutely soaked with sweat. However I could hear thunder and glancing behind me I saw a huge thunderstorm over the Fannichs. There was a slight breeze from the North East which I was praying would hold the storm at bay but it wasn’t to be. Would I get over the pinnacles before it arrived? Would I be stuck on top as it arrives? Shall I sack it and come back another day? Damn I have done all this work and not yet bagged a Munro hahaha. Scary thoughts were permeating my brain. In all the walks I have done I have never walked on the Munro’s in thunder and lightning and the thought of it was scaring the pants of me to tell you the truth. Am I going to be toast, literally?
However there is no time to worry as I quickly descend and then ascend up Cadha Gobhlach, over and descend to the Bealach below Corrag Bhuidhe. All of a sudden the mist pours into the Bealach engulfing me in clag and the heavy rain follows and I am now in the thunderstorm. What on earth makes storm chasers tick? Its just not a pleasant experience as far as I am concerned. Now thoughts are racing around my head. Is this going to last for ten minutes or hours? I have a decision to make. I am certainly not going over the pinnacles now. But do I continue or drop down the Corrie to Shenavil. Would it really matter if I didn’t bag a Munro? Well I decide to continue.
Firstly I hurriedly put my waterproof top on and cover the backpack in its bright yellow waterproof cover. There are various paths here, some higher and some lower. I select one of the higher ones and come to a climb down. I start the climb, its only small, but the rocks are wet and the rain is pouring it down and I have to retrace my steps. I track back and head for the lower path. The rain is so heavy its pouring like a river down the descent carrying small rocks down as it flows.
However I am soon on the lower path which is a good path and takes me all the way to Sgurr Fiona. Just below the Munro I meet another walker. He is suitably waterproofed up and we have a good chat about the weather, the Pinnacles and all things Munro like. He had intentions of crossing the Pinnacles but due to the weather had decided, as I had, to use the bypass route. A short skip and a jump and I am on the summit of Sgurr Fiona. The Storm has miraculously moved on and the views are stunning. The rain comes and goes during the rest of the walk but in the main the storm has passed. So thats what a localised storm is hahaha. Its now an easy 1km or just under, descending to the Bealach and reascending, to the summit of Bidein a’Ghlas Thuill.
It’s taken me just over three hours fifteen minutes to get here and it’s now an easy walk out. Yeah right. It probably is an easy walk out if your mind is on the ball and you have not only read other walk reports but took the time to understand them hahaha. Maybe it was due to my cold that my brain was not funtioning at its usual 10% and the fact that I could have sworn I saw a path around Loch and lochain that I decided to retrace my steps to the Bealach and head down the steep craggy dangerous hillside to Loch an lochain and the path, that actually doesn’t exist. So down to the beallach and then drop down the hillside for 450m to the loch. Now I have no problems with difficult descents but would not recommend this to any other walker unless they have the same fearless attitude and a big insurance policy for the wife and kids. The first 50m were ok then there was maybe 100m of crags. This descent was made more difficult with the sodden hillside and the rain still coming and going and there were a few dodgy moments.
However after what seemed like and age, descents always look closer than they actually are, I arrive at the Loch. I can’t see the path. However there are some deer tracks here and there and they will do. I have 6km to walk to get back to the car. Most of this is on pathless boggy terrain with deer clegs in abundance. The terrain undulates and at one point I have to climb back up a few meters or so to avoid a huge fern field. With hindsight I should have crossed the river to find the good path but instead decided to head to the small Lochan 1km from the road and join the path in. One bonus on this descent is the fantastic view of Coir a Ghuibhsachain buttress and the waterfalls. I soon find the small track and it takes me down into a small wood through a tunnel of trees with slippy roots on the path where the rain has washed away all the soil and out onto the road. Its now a quick 800m or so walk along the road back to the car.
Well that was different. The weather was a mix of two extremes. The descent route is one I would not recommend and I am feeling a bit run down and tired so probably won’t walk today and walk again tomorrow if the weather is ok.
This was not the An Teallach walk I was expecting but all in all an interesting day.