Early Start for An Teallach

I was away at 0500 I wanted an early start the forecast was mixed for the day. My Mountaineering Club were on a Bus Meet to An Teallach but I needed a day on my own after a sad week where we lost another friend Sarah. She was with me in the Mountain Rescue as a young lass so full of fun and loved the mountains. She has a very young family the same age as my Granddaughters she will never see again.

I had climbed the complete ridge with her many years ago. It was a special day. With another 4 young troops were climbed all the 9 tops loving every minute. As Chris Wright another who was with me that day said “these were carefree days” and they were. It was so good to see them develop into great young folk. After some time they had all become talented mountaineers and even more important good people.

With winter coming I had my first porridge of the season and blueberries it’s great hill food and ideal as a slow burner for fuel on the hill. Top tip.

It was still pitch black as I drove from home and just before 7 am I parked up below An Teallach next to the Dundonnell Mountain Rescue Base . This is also next to the Joint Services outdoor centre which I used for many years with the team.

On the journey there were so many deer on the road I had to be careful. It’s that time of year. The road was very quiet apart from the wild life as one would expect. I was playing some great music on the way down in my own world.These early starts have a few bonus’s

The stags were roaring it was raining now as the showers came and went the headlights picked up snow on the open moor near the Aultguish and it looked bitter cold. I was sure I could see a smattering of fresh snow very high up as the sky lightened.

As I left the car I put on a lot of kit as I felt the cold. The path starts across the road I know it well but was amazed at the erosion and bog in places on it.

Heavy erosion

I am still struggling with my cough and I not being on the hill for a while. My rucksack had winter kit in it it was feeling heavy so it was head down and I was soon in my own world. It’s a steady pull up as you start at sea level. The path takes your over the sandstone crags there are lots of cairns about and more bog. The sunrise was starting and the hills seemed alive with colour. It’s a special time alone in the early morning.

It’s was all familiar but I usually descend this way after a ridge traverse it’s hard ground but today I was taking it easy. The sandstone is beautiful there are so many shapes and the bulk of Glas Meall Mhor at 979 metres dominates. I have great memories of this hill as there is some ice that forms here. It can be out of the wind and an easy walk in when the high tops are out.

These hills have so many memories for me. As you climb the path you follow the burn up to the beleach it’s a gradual pull up but hard work. Its strange as this rolling ground compared with what is to come. I saw an eagle as soaring above the ridge it made me feel so happy. It soared above me and then followed me. The tops had fresh snow then another blast came through.

I love being on the hill on my own you go how you feel at your own pace this was going to be a magical day.

From here you are out in the open and you get your first views of this great Mountain proper from the beleach.

It’s a classic view you can see the bulk of Sgurr Fiona smattered with a dusting of snow then the mist came down it was gone. The pinnacles in the mist look like out of a film set in the mist surreal.

It’s a pull up to the first Munro Bidian A Ghlas Thuill it was easy today but in full winter this Munro can be tricky. I was soon on the ridge no views and the rock wet bits of snow and slippy. You have to take care here.

I was soon on the summit with its trig point it was cold and misty! I grabbed some food and headed down to the next Beleach in thick mist and showers came in. This is the trickier of the two Munros. I was soon up it watching out for the slippy grass and rock time for more food and get back.

Here I had a few thoughts about Sarah it was strange on my own on top of this great peak in the mist. She would have laughed at me maybe that Eagle I saw was spiritual ? I was so glad I was on my own in my thoughts. This was why I came on my own.

I had plans to continue on but was tired the rock was slippy so headed back. I came back over Bidian a Ghlas Thuill it was hard work and the weather cleared on the summit where I had a good stop. It was now midday.

I could see a group at the beleach that would be the Moray Mountaineering Club. I had seen no one all day. I was soon down with them taking care and met the fast party heading up.

Most of the snow was gone as the sun heated up. They were all in good spirits they did not recognise me at first but they heard me.

Most were going for the Munro’s and a few were doing a wander round the mountain. They had a big day ahead of them, so I did not hold them back.

Moray Clubbers!

I headed down after a catch up and met my mate Ray. He was not feeling great and did not fancy a high summit so we had a wander over some of the wee hills off the path. Ray has been with me on Mount MacKinley and the Himalayas we have shared great days and as we wandered and chatted.

It was a slow walk great views plenty of stops. Most miss this part of the hill heading of down the main path but we enjoyed a detour. This is a great featureless plateau for navigation and stunning views.


We headed off slowly back on the path after our wander. We had time and took it easy. It was still hard work and I was glad to be down. The old knees were feeling it. Once done on the road at the car.Ray headed for the hotel and the bus and me a quick change rehydrate and head home.

I was not to tired so I enjoyed my drive back the lay-bys had lots of cars in them. I was soon in Inverness and stopped to see the Grand kids. It was a great end to the day. Huge cuddles from Lexi and Ellie and laughter and love as they went through there repertoire of what was going on today in their lives. It was just what I needed and I love every minute with them. It was a well earned cup of tea then head home.

A superb day hard work getting old but worth the early start. So many memories so little time.

In memory of Sarah xxx

Sarah xxx

About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Alaska, Articles, Enviroment, Equipment, Family, Friends, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, Other hills Grahams & Donalds, People, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being, Wildlife. Bookmark the permalink.

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