First Light on An Teallach
The intense light of dawn illuminates the ridges and crags of An Teallach seen from a hill loch an above Dundonnell.
Image Size : 840 x 280 mm
Print Size : 960 x 406 mm
An Teallach, 1,058 metres (3,473 ft), is one of Scotland’s most striking and popular mountains and lies to the south and west of Dundonnell, overlooking Little Loch Broom on the northern edge of an area known by many as “The Great Wilderness”. An Teallach means ‘The Forge’ a name which is entirely appropriate when the rocks of its eastern flanks are perfectly illuminated at sunrise, of which an image features amongst my prints of An Teallach.
The mountain is comprised of terraced Torridonian sandstone carved by glaciers into steep gullies and a sharp rocky crest. An overhanging pinnacle known as Lord Berkeley’s Seat crowns the steepest section, known as Corrag Bhuidhe, that rises high above the lovely Loch Toll an Lochain. The backbone of the mountain runs from north to south and rises up from the shores of Little Loch Broom to the north. The mountain projects three great ridges to the east that enclose two large corries, Glas Tholl and Toll an Lochan, the latter of which cradles the remote and beautiful Loch Toll and Lochan. The atmosphere here is haunting with tall cliffs of Torridonian Sandstone rising high above the lonely lochan.
An Teallach is one of the most distinctive of mountains; its distant and jagged ridge is a familiar sight to those travelling between Inverness and Ullapool. In translation An Teallach appropriately means 'The Forge', a name fully justified if one is fortunate enough to witness the first rays of the morning sun light up its steep terraces of red Torridonian sandstone.
An Tellach's height and location - on Scotland's north-western seaboard - mean that it is always prone to cloud cover even when nearby higher landward summits are clear. What is more, because the mountain is particularly exposed to west and north-westerly winds, it is more likely to attract cloud when the air is of a direction and clarity which especially suits photography.
On this autumn morning, for the fifth time, I once again ascended the moor to my chosen viewpoint in the pre-dawn; the eerie silence was punctuated only by the loud - and sometimes frightening - sound of the roar of numerous Red Deer stags. As on so many occasions beforehand, thin, high but broken cloud lay above the tops of An Teallach whilst the sky was totally clear all around. I feared that I had made another wasted journey.
However, this day my patience and determination were to be rewarded. As the sun started to rise, not only did the cliffs of An Teallach turn a fiery red, but a colourful spectacle unfolded above as the clouds put on a show to equal that of their earthly rival. Using the Fuji GX617 panoramic camera I frantically took six rolls of film - 24 exposures at a variety of settings - of which the very best image is reproduced as this print.