The ‘games climbers play’ can vary between the macabre and the ridiculous but an established favourite to fill in the time, while waiting for the weather to clear, is the making of lists. These can range from the 10 best / worst routes in the district to a compendium of tops where the square root of each height is a whole number. One such is the Best Bothy List. In 2017 Wild Things Publishing produced The Scottish Bothy Bible – the complete guide to Scotland’s bothies and how to reach them compiled by Geoff Allan. Not content with one list, Geoff went on to compile a number of sub-lists which included the Best Bothies for Coast & Beaches – Kearvaig, Families & Beginners – Over Phawhope, Wildlife – Ruantallain, Romantic Hideaways – An Cladach, Solitude – Taig Thormoid Dhuibh, History & Legends – Leacraithnaich and Spectacular Scenery – Suileg. Each winner headed a list of five in an order of merit. If that doesn’t start an argument, I don’t know what will.
He also had a category Best for Munros which was awarded to Shenavall, no doubt prompted by the relatively easy (I use the word advisedly) access to the very remote tops of the Fisherfield Forest and the immediate proximity of An Teallach. It is with this category that I choose to take issue. It is a fact universally acknowledged that the Best Bothy for Munros is Easan Dorcha more commonly known as The Teahouse. It is not the most commodious of dwellings (Allan describes it as ‘an extremely robust garden shed’) nor is it situated with the most extensive of views but it has one over-riding advantage. It is situated within very easy walking distance of Achnashellach and Achnashellach has a railway station, albeit a request stop. This gives access to a number of equally remote Munros at least and if you are prepared to shuttle along the line to, for example, Strathcarron, Achnasheen or Garve several more. In fact, if you were to get up early, and there is little to keep you in bed, you can cross the Cuillin Pass into Torridon and eye up the likes of Beinn Eighe and Liathach.
But it is not just Munros that can be ticked off. There are least 17 Corbetts and Grahams within firing range and for lesser days getting on for a dozen Separate Tops below 2000 feet. The simplest way to effect all this is to buy a Highland Rover ticket which allows you four days of travel anywhere in the Highlands within eight consecutive days. The first and last trains to pass through Achnasheen are at 07.26 am and 19.19 pm respectively which means that you can not only complete a decent day’s climbing, but, if you tire of ‘home-cooking’, take your sustenance at one of the various hotels that are close to most of the stations. But always remember that the station at Achnasheen will only stop on demand and to fall asleep on the way back to the field of the willows is not a good idea.