The An Teallach Round | Scotland's Finest Mountain Run - Outdoors Magic

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The An Teallach Round | Scotland’s Finest Mountain Run

Our editor heads to the northwestern Highlands of Scotland to run the length of An Teallach's famous ridgeline over two days, with a bothy stay along the way

Hours, hours and more hours into my drive from the south, there it suddenly was, the bold, dark outline of An Teallach looming miles upon miles to the west as my car crept up the valley towards it. It was an inviting and somewhat terrifying prospect all at once. Why terrifying? Mostly because I was supposed to be running up all 1,062 metres of it.

A saw-like long ridge, vertical drops – one that’s even past vertical, actually – and some equally spectacular surrounding mountains to view from its two summits; as far as UK mountains go, the pinnacles of An Teallach are often seen as the apex of UK hill climbing – bucket list stuff for those who like their Munros, Wainwrights, Nuttalls, etc.

It’s a very challenging route, one not to be taken lightly as a hillwalk let alone as a running route. Fortunately for me, however, I was meeting up with Brian Sharp, a Highlands-based mountain runner who knows the route well and who knows how to handle a bit of Torridonian Sandstone underfoot.

Here’s how the trip went…

Our Route

Shenavall bothy, which is tucked down in the valley behind An Teallach, holds almost the same kind of legendary status as the mountain itself, so we made sure our trip included a stay there. This meant the most logical way to run the round was anti-clockwise, starting from a lay-by at Dundonnell where there’s free parking for five or six cars. We came in two cars, so we were able to leave one of them further down the road by the hostel at Corrie Hallie and this would cut out what would be a 3km road section back to Dundonnell at the end of the route.

Photos by Giles Dean

The path begins almost at sea level and straight away there’s some steep climbing to be had. It’s not scrambly but it’s certainly a leg burner, taking you right up to the 863-metre summit of Sròn a’ Choire and then up again to the first Munro – that being Bidean a’ Ghlas Thuill (1062m). This is where the rockiness starts and the fun really begins, with the ridge leading us over to the second Munro, Sgurr Fiòna (1060m) and then on to Lord Berkley’s Seat, a wall that leans out from the mountain, creating a staggeringly long drop below it. The wind was fairly gentle for us so we were able to stand on this, but we didn’t fancy dangling our legs from it as Lord Berkley himself is reputed to have done… while smoking a pipe.

After this comes the infamous section of pinnacles that line the ridge and these are very exposed, involving some technical scrambling. As we were running the route and had fairly heavy packs with overnight gear in them, we took the decision to bypass these by taking the much more straightforward path below them on the southwest facing side of the mountain.

After Sail Liath (954m), the final summit along An Teallach’s ridge, we dropped straight down its southeastern slope. We found this was hard enough to walk on let alone run as while the slope is fairly gradual it’s covered in scree and boulders. It’s real ankle twisting territory. At the bottom we linked up with a track and followed it south and downhill into the broad valley until we reached the shelter of Shenavall bothy for the night. This is an atmospheric place that’s worth visiting but it’s popular, so just make sure you bring a tent with you in case you find it’s already full of visitors.

The next morning, we retraced our steps back uphill for a couple of kilometres and then followed the well-defined path northwards for around 6km. We then dropped down into the calmness of Glean Chaorachain with its waterfalls and ancient woodland before reaching our car where we left it in the lay-by by the hostel.

Our Kit

Our two-day running adventure was made possible thanks to Rab who linked us up with Brian who is one of the members of their athlete team. They also provided us with some items from their new Skyline mountain running collection.

One of the standout items was the Aeon Ultra 28, a fastpacking bag that had plenty of space for my overnight gear. It’s also comfortable to run with, and, thanks to its water resistant fabric and taped seams, it keeps your kit nice and dry too.

The Rab Kinetic Ultra Jacket certainly came in handy as well. The Proflex fabric it uses is so soft and stretchy that it’s quite hard to believe it’s waterproof, but it definitely is, as we found out in the rough conditions at the end of the first day. It also brings the levels of breathability you want for running, which then brings me onto the Phantom trousers. They were equally impressive in regards to their breathable waterproof protection. I was happy running the whole day in them, even through periods where there clearly wasn’t even a looming threat of rain. At 80g, they really aren’t a burden in the pack for the times you want to keep the stashed away either.

Safety

Bear in mind that this is a route with lots of ascent, tricky rocky terrain, scrambling and lots of exposure and it can be difficult to navigate along it when the conditions aren’t favourable. Make sure you’re well prepared before taking it on – especially if, like us, you decide to run it. It’s a hard day out, I’ll tell you that, but it’s a heck of a lot of fun too.

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