Monday, 8 January 2018


Toll an Lochain at dawn
An Teallach is regarded by many folk as the finest mountain in these isles. Many folk who follow my blog will know that I rank it has the finest mountain on this planet! With a winter coat it is just spectacular. To capture an image of it's magnificence in winter requires patience, time and a good season of snow. This weekend was that opportunity to see it in all it's glory. With a weather forecast of clear skies and very cold temperatures I  headed up to Dundonnell in the NW Highlands and hoped the weather gods were on my side.

Beinn Dearg range at dawn
There are so many wonderful locations on An Teallach to get a stunning image, indeed, many may say it looks it's finest from a distance. To get a scale of it's many ridges, buttresses and spurs, a view from just above the road of destitution would be such a place. My objective on this occasion was the magnificent Toll an Lochain corrie. This beautiful spot below the main climbing area of An Teallach is a place to savour. The corrie floor lies at 500m and here lies a remote, tranquil loch. Above rise stunning crags all the way up to Sgurr Fiona, one of two Munros on the mountain.
Th Fannaich mountains at dawn
It's a boggy walk in along the usual route up to the lochan. Instead I prefer the good track in from Corrie Hallie and then walking over the rough moorland and down into the corrie. I set off at 7pm under cold clear skies. It was a lovely starlit night and no wind. At 250m I hit the snowline. The going was good until leaving the main track which eventually drops down to Shenevall. It was deep, unconsolidated snow. With a big winter bag I decided on a spot about 30 minutes walk away from Toll an Lochain. Well 30 minutes in summer terrain!
Corrag Buidhe & Sgurr Fiona above Toll an Lochain
Apparently the overnight temperatures plummeted to -10 C in some Highland glens. Not sure what it was where I was camped. It was chilly. The next morning I set off  before dawn to get to the corrie and capture the sunrise. I made it to the corrie just as the Belt of Orion was glowing above Sgurr Fiona. The colours were mesmerising. Ink blue, pink and white. Subtle changes in the light  as the sun rose behind. What a spectacle, what a place!
Ever changing colours in the corrie
Sgirr Fiona & Bidein a' Ghlas Thuill
Morning light on the Corrag Buidhe Pinnacles
Then suddenly it was blue skies and sparkling rimed crags as the sun hit the mountain tops and crept down to the corrie. Wonderful to have the sun on my face and the entire place to myself. Now it was time to get up on the ridge and tops. Easier said than done. I have been here in summer many times and know the terrain under the snow. A mix of peat hags, boulders and thick heather. It was time to take the plunge, indeed it was. Plunging shin to knee deep snow.
The Beinn Dearg Munros bathed in morning sun
Trudging with wonderful views
Corrag Buidhe, Lord Berkeley's Seat, Sgurr Fiona
The wonderful thing about landscape photography is the chance it gives for a well earned breather. Especially in terrain like this. It was a slog. I got to about 700m and time was wearing on. My main reason for this visit was the photography in the corrie. The summit was a bonus. I was content. I turned back just as a veil of high cloud came over the tops. My visit was well timed.
Sail Liath above Loch Toll an Lochain
A second night under the stars and another cold one. Broken spoon, frozen boots, snow melting for drinks. The joys of winter camping. Then there are the long dark nights. But it is all worth it for a day like I had here. An Teallach should be firmly on your list. It takes more than one visit though to appreciate it's magnificence, beauty and stunning mountain architecture. Wherever you wander on it's many ridges or corries you will not be disappointed.
Meall Liath & Hayfork Gully area

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