Sunday 4 July 2021

Finally, An Teallach in sunshine

Sgurr Fiona & Corrag Bhuidhe

I first climbed An Teallach forty-two years ago on my first long-distance walk over Scottish Mountains which took me from the Loch Treig hills to the Fannichs over 100 Munros. An Teallach was wreathed in cloud when I set off from Shenavall and stayed that way. Back then only one summit counted as a Munro, Bidein a' Ghlas Thuill. Like the rest of the mountain it was in dense cloud. A cold wind blew and it was raining. In my journal I wrote "very dark and gloomy ... I'd like to see it on a clear day". Now, all these years later, I finally have. There were still clouds, it was just that they were below me. 

Sgurr Creag an Eich

I have been back to An Teallach quite a few times since that first visit in 1979, including on my Munros and Tops walk when I did both Munros, Sgurr Fiona having been added, and all seven subsidary Tops, and every time the mountain has been in the mist and it has rained. I'd seen An Teallach sharp and clear in the sun from distant hills but whenever I approached it the clouds closed in. 

Camp at the head of the Allt Airdeasaidh glen with a view to An Teallach

As I walked up beside the rushing waters of the Allt Airdeasaidh An Teallach opened up before me, a spectacular range of summits. This is a massif rather than a single mountain. I camped on the col at the head of the glen where there was a light breeze I hoped would keep the midges away. The wind died away at dusk. There were no midges anyway and I sat outside watching the clouds turn pink and the blue of the sky darken. It was a beautiful peaceful evening.

 Out to the west an orange line ran above the cloudy horizon. 

When I finally retired to the tent I lay in my sleeping bag looking out at An Teallach. Tomorrow, I thought, I'll be up there in the sunshine. 

A few hours later a loud bark woke me. A deer, I guessed. I peered out and was puzzled. A huge mountain splashed with snow appeared to have arisen nearby. I rubbed my eyes and peered harder, quickly realising it was misty and the huge mountain was a lichen covered boulder not far from the tent. You can see it in the picture above. Hoping the mist would clear by dawn I fell back asleep.

 I woke to find the mist even thicker. Was this to be another day on An Teallach with no views?

As planned I moved camp deep into Coire Mor an Teallaich, right under the two Munros. The mist did not move. The air was still and dry. Again there were no midges. I sat outside my second camp over a long lunch, waiting. Waiting for what? A sign of a clearance, a sign I might have the views I expected. With what passed for darkness at this time of year not falling until near midnight I had plenty of time. And then it came, a movement of the mist, a shifting of clouds, hazy mountains appearing amidst touches of blue sky. 

I was soon heading upwards, energised, excited. The clouds sank below me. The high mountain world was shining and glowing in hot sunshine. I reached the summit of Bidein a' Ghlas Thuill and gazed across the mist filled depths of Toll an Lochain to Sgurr Fiona and the jagged pinnacles of Corrag Bhuidhe, a wonderful, dramatic, thrilling sight (see picture at the top). 

Glas Mheall Liath

All around mountains rose out of the cloud. I watched them and the mist and the goats (see last post) for maybe half an hour, maybe longer, from a perch by the trig point on Bidein a' Ghlas Thuill. Time didn't matter. The sun beat down. It was hot up here. Eventually I set off for Sgurr Fiona. The view south from this peak, looking over the Fisherfield hills to Torridon was splendid. 

The sun was still in the sky when I left the summits and began to make a slow way down into the mist, revelling in what had turned out to be a magnificent day.

Back at camp the mist almost lifted then thickened again and again. The sun appeared and disappeared, hazy through the clouds. It was a magical evening.


  1. Great photos, Chris,as usual! Great account of a well deserved good day on the hill; I was lucky and had a clear day for my traverse of the mountain, saw no other walkers but surprised a young stag on my way down �� All the best from M & H xx

  2. The excitement in your words at the prospect of an inversion is palpable Chris. And you were rightfully rewarded for your patience. Superb photos and a trip which will live long in your memory I'm sure.