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Welcome to the NW Highlands - Ben Stack

Welcome to the NW Highlands - Ben Stack


Postby denfinella » Sun May 05, 2013 11:14 pm

Route description: Ben Stack

Grahams included on this walk: Ben Stack

Date walked: 20/04/2013

Time taken: 3.5 hours

Distance: 8 km

Ascent: 700m

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A six-day break in late April allowed us our first trip to the lands north of Inverness (or should that be north of civilisation :lol: ), staying at the Youth Hostel in Durness for the bargain price of £13 per person per night. We'd be at the mercy of the weather, but hoped to get a few of the most attractive-looking walkhighlands walks explored while we were there, plus the odd other spot which looked enticing.

The drive up from Aberdeen was uneventful, leaving behind the lorry-prone A96 at Inverness along with the last cheap petrol! Sunny spells gave way to overcast skies as we stopped for lunch in Lairg, with the landscape growing increasingly barren during the scenic drive along Loch Shin. Over the bealach to Loch More, and Ben Stack reared its majestic head in front, along with a welcome and unexpected break in the clouds.

Ben Stack 1.jpg
Ben Stack ahead

The parking area isn't obviously marked but is easy to find as long as you're keeping track on the map. This has to be one of the best views from the start of a walk:

Arkle.jpg
Arkle

A quick hop back towards Achfary on the road led to the rough track clearly heading in the direction of the hill. Thankfully the exceptionally dry spring this year meant that the ground was firm underfoot, despite the torrential rain a couple of days before. The track soon peters out, amidst fine views over the shoulder back to Loch More. My better half even managed a smile :)

Loch More.jpg
Loch More

An unusual feature of Ben Stack is the prominent rock line jutting above the surface all the way up the SE face of the hill. This means it's got to be one of the easiest routes to navigate successfully in clear weather, despite there not really being a path. The climb is relentless but not bad underfoot, and the views make the effort worth it. We kept to the NE side of the ridge line and soon reached the small dip at 540m, being greeted by THIS view...

Welcome.jpg
Welcome to the NW Highlands

We were also greeted by the wind, which was gusting pretty strongly. Keeping to the right of the ridge afforded us a degree of shelter, making sure to avoid going too near the cliffs...

Summit.jpg
Summit

...which led right down to Loch Stack below. There's a road down there somewhere between the foreground and the loch.

Loch Stack.jpg
Loch Stack

Somebody seems to smile on us somehow weatherwise on most of our walks. Today was no exception if you took the wind out of the equation anyway. Somebody popular with the weather gods must have been up Arkle today too.

Arkle 2.jpg
Sun-dappled screes

Eventually the steepening slope shepherded us back onto the windy ridge line, giving us a first view over to the SW, with another maze of lochans and wild country.

South.jpg
South toward Assynt

It wasn't far from here to the twin summit mini-ridges. Miraculously the wind died down to a gentle breeze, allowing us to break out the snacks and just sit enjoying the panorama. Loch Laxford looked particularly enticing in the sun, with the coast road threading its way southwards towards Assynt.

Laxford.jpg
Loch Laxford from the summit

And then it was time for the return journey. This time we took a more direct line down the rock ridge, straying to the southern side this time. En route we came across what appeared to be an ancient, rusting huge sledge... random. The faint tyre tracks were reached easily, leaving a short stroll back to the car park, just as a few bursts of rain threatened to come our way. Not enough to get us wet, but enough to create this little beauty:

Rainbow.jpg
Saturday's rainbow

Happily we reached the end dry - a perfectly-shaped little mountain which provided the ideal intro to our holiday.

After checking in at the hostel in Durness, we rounded off the day with a quick trip down to Sango Bay - the local beach. The photos don't convey the power of the wind, but it was still a beautiful few moments:

Sango.jpg
Sango Bay


Sango 2.jpg
Beautiful sands


Sango 3.jpg
Wind-whipped waves

A lovely conclusion to the day then. But happily not to the trip - five more days to come. The next day - an attempt at Foinaven: http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=31434...
Last edited by denfinella on Wed May 08, 2013 2:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
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denfinella
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Re: Welcome to the NW Highlands - Ben Stack

Postby The Rodmiester » Mon May 06, 2013 7:36 am

Hi denfinella, wild and rugged is how I would describe it, must get back up North sometime and do this wee gem, looks like on a clear day the views would be wonderful, thanks for posting :)
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The Rodmiester
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Re: Welcome to the NW Highlands - Ben Stack

Postby hailiamdigby » Mon May 06, 2013 8:04 pm

Great pics.
Makes me want to go there asap and climb this one but I'm sure it'll happen some day, all in good time :D
Thanks for the photos and the post :thumbup:
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hailiamdigby
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Re: Welcome to the NW Highlands - Ben Stack

Postby denfinella » Wed May 08, 2013 12:52 am

Thanks :)

@Rodmiester: a wee bit hazy on this trip, but you're right the views would be even better on a clear day. Lots of reward for fairly little effort!

@hailiamdigby: plenty of time, the mountains aint going nowhere fast :lol:
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denfinella
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Re: Welcome to the NW Highlands - Ben Stack

Postby Johnny Corbett » Wed May 08, 2013 10:14 am

Lovely, stunnig area. Need to visit sometime. Cheers :D
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Johnny Corbett
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Re: Welcome to the NW Highlands - Ben Stack

Postby dooterbang » Wed May 22, 2013 6:05 pm

Enjoying all your trip reports of this area - fab trip you had.

Heading up to Kinlochbervie Saturday for a few days and plan to do most of these walks.

Thanks for sharing.
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dooterbang
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Re: Welcome to the NW Highlands - Ben Stack

Postby kevsbald » Wed May 22, 2013 9:17 pm

I have 2 weeks in Achiltibuie in September and this is a must-do. Thanks for posting.
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kevsbald
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