Justly regarded as one of Scotland’s finest mountains, a traverse of An Teallach provides one of the most amazing days out you can get. Its two Munros – Bidein a’ Ghlas Thuill and Sgurr Fiona – can be reached without difficulty from Dundonnell, but the excitement comes if you include a scramble over the Corrag Bhuidhe pinnacles – jagged sandstone towers that overlook Loch Toll an Lochain.
I was reacquainting myself with them after a long gap in the company of two mountaineering club friends, Fiona and Chris.
After a pretty miserable time in bucketing rain on Am Faochagach the day before, I was looking forward to this outing in much better weather with just the odd shower blowing through from the west.
With transport available at either end we began our day from the car park at Corrie Hallie on the A832 and took the track that follows the Allt Gleann Chaorachain.
In a couple of kilometres it reaches a fine waterfall then climbs to a high point with great views to the Fisherfield Munros.
A path branches off right leading to Shenavall bothy and we followed this for a short way before diverting right on rough ground, crossing giant slabs on the way to the base of Sail Liath, An Teallach’s southernmost top.
Red-throated divers were calling from Lochan na Brathan, adding an edge to the wild feeling of this area.
It’s a steep climb over boulder scree to the top of Sail Liath, where the views really open up. Most prominent, across Loch na Sealga, is Beinn Dearg Mor, a stunning hill in its own right. We turned north to head off Sail Liath for the pinnacles and the physicality of using hands as well as feet for the next section of our traverse.
Confidence is essential, with scrambling up to the highest Grade 3 level and serious exposure involved, though there is a way to bypass the difficulties on a path to the left. For added security, a rope and some protection gear can be carried.
The problem with sandstone is that it weathers to rounded corners, so hand and foot placements are not always as positive as on granite for instance.
Added to that the rock was seeping in places, so concentration and good route finding were needed on the most difficult moves.
Nevertheless we were revelling in it and moving steadliy up and down the pinnacles and over Lord Berkeley’s Seat, a small platform that overhangs the corrie below.
Lord Berkeley is supposed to have sat on the top with his legs dangling over the edge as he smoked a pipe. Not to be recommended for those of a nervous disposition!
Soon after the scrambling ends Sgurr Fiona is reached, where we took a break and met up with other members of our party who had missed out the scrambling and were just doing the two Munros.
Heading north-east, we descended then climbed the path to the higher Munro, Bidein a’ Ghlas Thuill, at 1062 metres, the summit marked by a trig point.
The view back along the ridge to the pinnacles from here makes them look fierce indeed. A rocky path leads down to a bealach under another top on this complex mountain, Glas Mheall Mhor.
Our route off took us over the minor summit of Sron a Choire to join a cairned path that drops in zigzags to Dundonnell.
My tired legs and feet were feeling the strain by now and the path is not the most user-friendly one I’d ever descended, so the going was slow.
I was more than glad to reach the A832 and the last short stretch to the Dundonnell Hotel and some very welcome refreshment after seven hours on a magnificent monlith. Its translation – The Forge – says it all.