Sleeping in the car wasn't a new experience for me but this was the first time I'd attempted it with my current motor. Turns out it was not as roomy as my previous model, that coupled with having the dog with me meant I was crammed in the back tighter than a tin of particularly well packed sardines. Thanks to the dog farting most of the night it smelt just as bad as well ! We'd arrived at the layby just before 23:00 so I after a quick pee (for the dog and me) we were soon getting the head down in the back of the motor.
My first thought was that it was torchlight and maybe a local/the Police investigating an 'abandoned' car. I kept the head down, pretending to be asleep in the hope they would satisfy themselves and just move along. Just as I was starting to think we were alone again the car was again 'lit up' this time twice in quick succession. Darkness returned, and then again, another 2 bursts of light. The realisation that it was a car 'flashing me' in a very remote layby at half 2 in the morning was more than a tad disconcerting. What was more disconcerting was that the dog was oblivious and continued to snore her head off throughout the whole episode ! Miniature Schnauzers are renowned for being protective and extremely vocal, clearly 'ma dug' was broken !! I decided that being over 6 foot tall and reasonably well built the best course of action was to.....well....hide ! I hunkered down in the sleeping bag and pretended there was no-one home. A few minutes (felt like hours) passed and then I heard the engine start behind me. The car slowly pulled up quite close behind us and flashed the lights again. I continued to 'play dead', not half as well as the dog was managing, but hopefully well enough. I then became aware that that the car was moving again and as the light from it's headlamps eerily passed through the car I realised it was now parallel with us. It sat alongside for a bit before revving the engine angrily and speeding off down the road, never to be seen or heard from again. Well that was that. 3 o clock in the friggin' morning and I'm now wide awake, despite my best efforts I didn't manage another wink of sleep before dragging myself out the car to get the boots on just after 6am.
There was a lot more cloud hanging around the high tops than I'd have liked but there was also large patches of blue sky giving me confidence that the forecast would eventually prove to be spot on. I headed down the main road and was soon on the hillside. The initial path was pretty boggy and fairly steep, meaning I had soon gained a fair bit of height and the views back down over Little Loch Broom and the Summer Isles were fantastic.
Beyond Sron a Choire the it was a steep climb up the scree and bouldery ridge towards the days first summit of Bidein a'Ghlas Thuill. The dog was finding it tough going with some of the 'steps' on the route up being a bit too large for her wee legs. As always, she managed to find her own way up. It didn't seem long before we were approaching the summit trig point. Usually when I reached that point of a walk I would get a sudden burst of energy to take me over the final last steps to the summit as quickly as I could. Today though, I strangely slowed down. Looking back I think subconsciously I was holding back, somehow worried that the reality might not match the huge expectations I had for the view just a few metres ahead. Seems ridiculous now, the view with your own eyes always exceeds experiencing it from the pages of a book/website. With that in mind you should really skip looking through the rest of this drivel and just get yourself up there !!
At a smidgen over 1060m, Bidein a'Ghlas Thuill is the taller of An Teallach's two Munros and the views in all directions were worth every single metre of exertion in getting up there, hell they were even worth a potential layby violation ! However, there really only is 'one' view. SW is the vista of Sgurr Fiona and the Corrag Buidhe pinnacles which tower majestically above the dark waters of Coire Toll an Lochain far below. You can pick your own superlative but I promise you none of them will do the view justice.
I never did find out if it had been a genuine search or just a training exercise. As amazing as it was to witness, I sincerely hope it was the latter.
The plan for the day had always been to turn back here and retrace our outward route back to the car. The more adventurous, or indeed those without a dog who is as good at scrambling as I am at.....err....packing a 'lunch box', can of course choose to tackle the pinnacled ridge ahead making a circular route. A slightly less scary option is to take the bypass path around the right side of the ridge, although I hear if it is also best avoided if you are not the best with a fair bit of exposure. I was content in the knowledge that I would just have to return another day to take on the pinnacles, assuming of course that I were to 'grow a pair' in the intervening years !
The up and down route took me just over 6 hours, so more time driving than on the hill but I don't begrudge one second of it. The Walkhighlands website begins its description of the route as 'This fabled mountain is perhaps the most impressive in Britain' , the only issue I take with that is the use of 'perhaps' ! If there is one finer then I for one cannot wait to discover it.