Since my previous wild camping trip, which saw me camping on Beinn Eighe in Torridon I have been waiting desperately for an opprtunity to squeeze in another wild camping trip to the far North of Scotland before winter. This meant frantically checking the MWIS weather forecasts, which consistently said 10% chance of cloud free summits and gale-force winds for every single weekend. Last weekend, after cross-validating weather forecasts on a handful of websites, it finally seemed that conditions were likely to be relatively favourable for a high camp on a mountain top. I did not need to think twice and decided to head to north-west Scotland, with the idea of possibly doing two overnight walks, the first of which was the fabled An Teallach.
After a smooth five hour drive without too much traffic on the infamous A9, I arrived in Dundonell around noon, where the walk began. The walk up to Bidein a’Ghlas Thuill was not very inspiring until Sron a Choire was reached, and could easily be described in one word, and one word only: boggy. I quickly regretted leaving the gaiters in the car, I only seem to step in knee-deep mud when I do so! On Sron a Choire there were some fantastic views over the Summer Isles and Glas Mheall Mor. I did not stop long to admire the views, as there was not much time left until the sun would set and the steepest section was yet to come, so I continued my steady uphill march.
I reached the summit of Bidein a’Ghlas Thuill a bit more than an hour before sunset, and was stunned with the views. I have seen many photographs from the ridge of An Teallach but nothing really prepares you for the real deal. There was some dramatic autumnal light, and I used a long lens to emphasize the rays bursting through the clouds.
Dramatic clouds above the Corrag Buidhe on the ridge of An Teallach
Crepescular rays above the imposing ridge of An Teallach
I thought it was probably wise to set up the tent while it was still light. I had just bought a new lightweight tent (a Wild Country Zephyros lite 2), and I should perhaps have practised pitching it before being on top of a mountain in heavy wind! I eventually managed to pitch it, just in time, as some fantastic golden hour light unfolded above An Teallach and the mountains in the Fisherfield Forest.
Sgurr Fiona on An Teallach basking in golden hour light before sunset
“Faint crepuscular rays as the sun was obscured by a cloud behind An Teallach”
This burst of golden hour light did not last long however, as clouds abruptly absorbed the sun. I was initially disappointed with myself, as I had not taken any grand vista type of shots, instead choosing to use longer focal lengths. But while the golden hour light had indeed disappeared, visibility was still great, and there was still plenty of quality light.
Beautiful purple hues after sunset above Glas Mheall Liath
The above shot shows Glas Mheall Liath, a satellite ridge of An Teallach. While this was facing away from where the sun was setting, the sky was phenomenal.
The stunning ridge between Sgurr Fiona and Corrag Bhuidhe on the An Teallach ridge during twilight after sunset.
Finally my version of the famous grand vista overlooking Sgurr Fiona and the rest of An Teallach. I really had to use the ultra-wide angle at the widest setting to include the entire ridge and to prevent Loch Toll an Lochain to be clipped. While I could hit myself on the head for not taking this one during that burst of golden light, I quite like the more subtle tones one can achieve during twilight.
An Teallach during the blue hour at dusk”
Soon the light cooled during the blue hour, and despite the sun having set the light was still directional, creating soft highlights on the western slopes of the ridge.
After cooking some Singapore curry noodles I retired to my tent, and prepared for a long night. I guess that’s one of the downsides of camping this time of year when the sun sets shortly after 4PM! While the wind had been strong all day, it really turned into some serious gale-force wind in the evening, knocking the pegs out every so often. Needless to say that the combination of a noisy flysheet, far from level terrain, and repeatedly getting out of the tent to secure some of the pegs in horizontal rain and sleet was not sleep-inducing!
After a broken night, I woke up way before sunrise only to find that the rain was still there, so no chance to witness An Teallach in golden morning light!. As soon as the rain stopped I took down the tent, and got ready for the boggy slog back to the car and drive up to Inverpolly, where I would camp on the summit of Cul Mor. I initially wanted to continue to Sgurr Fiona, but as there were no views anyway I decided that it was not worth risking missing sunset on Cul Mor. The typical hillwalker-photographer dilemma!
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