An Teallach – to see it’s jagged profile in the distance makes any mountaineer want to reach its summits. This to me is best seen from “Destitution Road” the A832 which has a sad history built during a time of famine.Even the road has a story:
During the 1840s there was great poverty in the Highlands. The failure of the potato crop in 1846 meant starvation for the people. The Central Board for the Destitute Highlands was set up and paid for various improvement projects. The ‘destitution roads’, such as this lonely road across the moor, were built by labourers in return for food. A day’s work involved eight hours of labour, six days a week. Oatmeal rations for the workers were set at 680g for men, 340g per woman and 230g per child.
My question to many “Is there a finer mountain in Scotland than An Teallach? “ I was speaking to a good pal just back from a weekend on the North West. They had enjoyed a great day on An Teallach as I have done so many times. To many it is most peoples top 5 it is a hill I love and I been privileged to climb it over 50 times. I have climbed the ridge several times in winter adding in a few of the Classic Gullies and what an adventure this mountain is. I have also added it to the Fisherfield 5/6 Munros in one huge summers day, it is a place I love and always try to visit. Yet how many did I introduce team members family and friends to An Teallach’s wonderful ridge.
My last visit was last year a lot slower but still as much fun with Tommy a friend for many years. He loved it and we had the mountain to ourselves chasing the weather.
Many just grab the two Munros on the ridge as it can be so wild looking. Yet the pinnacles Lord Berkeley’s seat but can be a great adventure with so many ways to go. This mountain has so many Munro tops plus the two Munros and many secrets hidden in the big Corries,. To me it is a mountain to explore and the best way to do it is along summer day and take in all the Munro tops as well.Then you of lucky can see views of the Fisherfield wilderness and these great wild hills they ate a place to stop and savour. I always advise when you climb An Teallach climb all the ridges and tops and then you will appreciate this mountain fully.
I love the area so well it is famous for the wild Goats that you may meet and smell before you see them on the ridge as they come wandering by. They make you feel so insecure of your abilty to climb especially if you meet them on the main ridge on a tiny ledge. They also hang about by the main road and be careful as you drive to hill, they may be about in a big group.
It is also the gateway to the great wilderness of Fisherfield and of course the famous Mountain Bothy at Shenaval a place to spend a night after a a day out. This to me is a place of great peace and tranquility,
The hidden Corries of An Teallach are wonderful and all sides of the mountain have huge Corries and ridges away from the crowds that offer incredible ridges on to the summits. When I was ill a few years ago as I was slowly recovering I wandered into these places and was as always in awe of the cliffs and the grandeur of thees wild places. It was so refreshing to be in such a place and just to look at wonderful Corries was worth the slog from the road. It was cathartic in my healing and trudging through the deep snow to Loch Toll an Lochan covered in ice was a sight I will never forget. That day I just made the ridge then turned for home. With a hea torch and pathless in the snow and icy path it cleared my head. The healing process was starting.
An Teallach is a complex mountain massif, with ten distinct summits over 3,000 feet (914.4 m). From 1891 to 1981, only the highest of these, Bidean a’ Ghlas Thuill, had the status of a Munro – a separate mountain over 3,000 feet. In 1981 the SMC granted Munro status to Sgùrr Fiona, in recognition of its considerable topographic prominence (150 m) and distinct nature.] The complete list of Munros and Tops (subsidiary summits appearing on Munros is now as follows:]
- Bidean a’ Ghlas Thuill 1062 m (3484 ft)
- Glas Mheall Mòr 979 m (3212 ft)
- Glas Mheall Liath 960 m (3150 ft)
- Sgùrr Fiona 1060 m (3478 ft)
- Corrag Bhuidhe 1040 m (3412 ft)
- Lord Berkeley’s Seat 1030 m (3379 ft)
- Sgurr Creag an Eich 1017 m (3337 ft)
- Stob Cadha Gobhlach 960 m (3150 ft)
- Sàil Liath 954 m (3130 ft)
- Corrag Bhuidhe Buttress 945 m (3100 ft) – deleted from Munro’s Tables in 1997
In the RAF Mountain Team we wore a helmet when scrambling and I think it is a good idea as you never know what can fall on you. It can be an especially tricky on a busy a mountain which in winter can become a huge expedition under heavy snow. Never take this mountain lightly is can be a serious proposition and the navigation can be tricky and if you get it wrong at the least you may have a long walk out.
The pinnacles on the ridge are great fun and the sandstone so rounded at times and weathered takes care, This is especially true when as it can be have the sandy gravel on the ledges, take care with your feet and test the holds. The exposure will keep you aware but newer walkers may find this intimidating so it is well worth while using a rope on the easier parts of the ridge to gain experience and familiarity with the rock and terrain.
The hard parts on the ridge can be avoided as there are paths that cut below the ridge but again these can be tricky and care is needed. As always when descending take your time and a short rope and the ability to use it may be handy for those who need a bit of confidence.
The famous Climber Tom Patey carried out a massive call – out in winter 1966 on his own. The story is of a huge fall on An Teallach and the survivors attempt to save them. Hamish McInnes did a film on it “ Duel on An Teallach”
RAF Kinloss MRT 18-19/04/66
Two climbers killed on Sgurr Fiona. This incident was recently reconstructed and filmed for television. Hamish McIness film “Duel with An Teallach” Tom Patey was awarded a medal for his part. Well worth a watch lots of lessons from this sad event.
On my last trip my mate Tommy who was a young lad many years ago after a day on the hill last years said:
“My face is sore with smiling all day on the hills.” What a mountain.
Leave the road and Cross the river,
No path, pick a line up quartzite slabs.
Blue skies, no wind, frozen ground.
In the Glen that few visit.
All rushing for a summit or a route.
Now sandstone slabs.
Pebbled and glaciated, the odd cairn.
Views of snow covered cliffs, frozen loch,
No words for this beauty.
Toll an Lochain.
2014 April Heavy Whalley
Finally – I named my dog after this great hill he was a great dog and completed Munro’s on An Teallach.
Climb it in winter with a winter route and continue along the ridge watch the sunset over the sea. Then complete the journey by torch home one of Scotlands great adventures.
How many have a tale of this mountain?