Teallach: Heavy Whalley

Bidein a’ Ghlas Thuill (An Teallach), 7thNovember 1983
Munro Tops: Coinneach Mhor, May 1984

My name is Teallach, I was a very soft Alsatian and I was very lucky to have spent all of my life on the hills. When I was a few weeks old I met my owner, a very small, loud human, with a strange name (Heavy).  He chose me because of my huge feet and for 12 years we looked after each other, but mainly I looked after him!

Heavy was in RAF Mountain Rescue and I spent a lot of time travelling in Land Rovers. The troops bought me a huge bone to stop me chewing the seats; the bone was bigger than me.

Teallach and bone

My first Munro was Lochnagar and Heavy carried me up in a rucksack, I was allowed out on a bit of rope, but I was soon trusted not to need this. At the summit I marked the cairn and from that day on I would always lift my leg and mark my territory whatever the weather.

During my training the local farmer let me meet the sheep and any idea I had of playing with them or chasing them was strongly discouraged by the ram! For the rest of my life, I gave them a wide berth.

Very soon I was climbing better than Heavy (which wasn’t hard) and I would wait for him at the top of the climbs as I got older. I got used to the noise of the big yellow helicopters and soon I was jumping in them on my own and hiding out-of-the-way under the seats. I had to keep out of the way especially in winter when the humans wore crampons. I got speared a few times so I was wary after that and kept my distance. I learnt to follow Heavy’s footprints in the snow to make it easier for me and loved spending nights in snowholes in the Cairngorms.  


I became an exceptionally valuable member of the Mountain Rescue team. I could sniff out a crashed aircraft from the smell of the fuel and I was very skilled at finding routes through the snow for the troops to carry stretchers off the hill.

Being posted back to Scotland was magic, Heavy was doing his Munros again and was trying to get me round them as well. I went on a big RAF ‘East to West’ walk, climbing 76 Munros over 23 days. My paws were pretty sore after this walk but I came back from my Big Walk very fit and strong and after that we went to Skye where my paws got fairly battered on the rough ridge.

Most nights after the hill I went to the pub and fell asleep listening to the troops but we were always up for the hill the next day. We stayed in local village halls and even camped at times. I loved the camping but in winter it could be pretty rough, we slept on the floor on mats and I had my own mat and sleeping bag.

I now had a light stick on me for Heavy to see where I was in the dark. I knew the Goat Track descent from the Cairngorm plateau very well and could pick a line through the rocks even when the snow was rock hard. Climbers would be amazed to see me as they picked their way down the steep ground.


We had some great trips to Skye and Heavy took me on a two day traverse of the ridge, just him and me and after that we just had the Inaccessible Pinnacle left to climb on Skye. I had fallen off on a previous attempt with Heavy when we tried the long side but eventually, we walked to the base of the In Pin with three of Heavy’s mates and I got up it. It was a great day but one I did not want to repeat, I howled a bit as we went up the short side and managed to freak out someone climbing up the other side. Heavy abseiled off with me on the way down and I was glad it was all over.

By the time I was 6, I was in my prime and enjoying long days on the hills ticking off lots of Munros.

I was lucky and only had few injuries, but one winter I walked over a cornice on Creag Meagaidh in a wild storm. I fell over 1000ft but luckily the snow was soft. Heavy was amazed I was okay, he thought I was a goner and I was much more careful walking near cornices after that.


We went to many remote bothies to break in the new troops and always had fun nights. We would soon have a fire on and Heavy and I would go for a wander and find the buried coal and food, dropped off by our friends in the helicopter. We would meet some great people and I would get so close to fire my fur would start singeing. I always managed to find wood, especially at Shenaval, where I would drag huge pieces of wood out of the river and drag them up to the bothy.

Bidein a’ Ghlas Thuill on An Teallach was my last Munro Nov 1983. We had walked by it before as Heavy wanted to save this hill for me to complete on. Heavy and I spent as much time in the hills as we could whether it was at work or on our time off. I enjoyed big long walks and kept the troops in line, I went on lots of call outs, I loved sleeping in snow holes and I was always a better climber than Heavy.

We completed Tranter’s Round (a big day on the 18 Munros circling Glen Nevis) in 22 ½ hours, just Heavy and me. What a day it was. We traversed the Mamores ridge 12 times, the Fannaichs 8 times and walked the circuit round the north and south Cluanie ridges 10 times. Eventually in May 1984, I climbed Coinneach Mhor on Beinn Eighe and completed the Munro Tops as well.

What a dog, what a life!


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