Monday 25 March 2024

Celebrating the Spring Equinox on Sail Mhor

An Teallach from Sail Mhor

After leaving the path work party on An Teallach (see last post) I drove a short way alongside Little Loch Broom then climbed up beside the wonderful Ardessie Falls to the flatter upper glen of the Allt Airdeasaidh where I found a not too boggy spot to camp on the sodden ground.

Ardessie Falls

The chain of waterfalls was spectacular, the river full of the heavy rain of recent days along with the last snowmelt. I wandered over as close to the edge as I dared to look at them many times. For those who like waterfalls I’ve added a selection of photos at the end of the post. I was though shocked by the state of the path, if the confusing morass of muddy trails could be called that. With my new found knowledge I mentally reconstructed it as I went along.

Sgurr Ruadh

An Teallach rises to the east but only the rolling north-western end of the mountain can be seen. It doesn’t look very interesting, the great prow of Sail Mhor rising to the west being far more dramatic. Higher up rocky Sgurr Ruadh, the end of a long spur from the main An Teallach ridge, gave a hint of the glorious rock scenery just out of sight.

Just before the rain

A cool breeze blew down the glen and the sky was overcast. I had just settled into my shelter when a fierce squall rattled against the fabric. The forecast was for the wind to die down and the sky clear and sometime during the night both happened as I woke to warmth and condensation. Overnight the temperature had fallen to just 1°C. I didn’t need to wear a jacket all day though. Appropriate, as it was the spring equinox.

Early morning light

Leaving camp to be collected later I set off up the glen hoping that a ford of the Allt Airdeasaidh, necessary as I wanted to climb Sail Mhor which was on the far side, would be easier higher up than it looked here. It wasn’t. It was knee deep and I had to pick my spot carefully in the fast rushing water. I was glad the day was warm.

Sail Mhor & the Allt Airdeasaidh

From the ford I headed up to Ruigh Mheallain, the 594-metre southernmost top of Sail Mhor. A dip to a col and then it was up the western edge of Sail Mhor where a rough path goes steeply up along the edge of crags to the 767-metre top, marked by a small cairn on the long gentle summit ridge.

Little Loch Broom

The views from the top are extensive and glorious. Out to the west the sea extended to hazy, almost invisible islands. I sat on the summit revelling in the sunshine and the calm. The first day of spring indeed. Pulling myself up before I drifted off to sleep I wandered over to a cairn to the north that gives a better view of Little Loch Broom. This cairn looks to be higher from the summit but when you look back it doesn’t. There can’t be much in it.

Tors & rocks on Sail Mhor

From the summit I descended south-east to the more interesting part of the mountain. Soon the plain grassy slopes gave way to stony terrain with little vegetation beyond which lay a series of little sandstone tors. The rocks are fascinating and the tors give a better view of An Teallach and the surrounding hills than the summit.  Further east the sky was cloudier though the summits were clear and just once Sgurr Fiona soared into blueness.

Sgurr Fiona

Descending east from the tors is unwise as the hillside is craggy and very steep. This is the prow seen from the Allt Airdeasaidh. Instead I went south until I was past the crags and could turn east and descend to another knee deep ford of the river opposite my camp. Then it was back down past the waterfalls and home. A grand start to spring!

Pictures of Ardessie Falls 


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