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Foinaven Wild Camp with Arkle and Horn too (Video)

Foinaven Wild Camp with Arkle and Horn too (Video)


Postby wilkiemurray » Wed Sep 18, 2013 7:53 pm

Route description: Arkle

Corbetts included on this walk: Arkle, Foinaven, Meall Horn

Date walked: 14/09/2013

Time taken: 24 hours

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Arkle, Meall Horn and Foinaven



My annual “up North “ meeting was planned this week and once again I thought it silly not to take advantage of this and extended my stay in the far north for a few extra days…. Last year it was Orkney and I tackled Ben Loyal and Ben Klibreck on my way south

This year the meeting was in the cracking Lyth Arts Centre, not too far from John O’ Groats, so I had the Corbett book out checking to see what I would tackle this time.

With the weather looking reasonable, and the fact that I had invested in new camping equipment recently, I fancied a wild camp. I spotted these three Corbett’s which looked a challenge and where an overnight wild camp would come in handy!! Maps out and routes planned I was set for a mini adventure.

The meeting concluded around midday on the Friday and I packed my car and headed West across the top of Scotland (A838). Love this road and does any mountain look finer than Ben Loyal when it dominates the horizon as you head past Bettyhill towards Tongue? Awesome views, however the road is a rather small one and care needs to be taken. I eventually reached my parking spot near Achfary at around 15.00hrs. I got my gear together and was walking by 15.30-I was in good spirits and the weather looked good for both this evening and tomorrow 
Immediately the grey fortress of Arkle dominates over Loch Stack-this is an impressive looking mountain (even more so from the east!). I strode on with my full pack, looking at the landscape.

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I soon reached the two large boulders which mark the start of the ascent, and upwards I started. I soon met a couple form Bristol who had ascended Arkle and were holidaying near bye – they had views on the summit and said the cloud had cleared just in time for them. I was uncertain which to try that evening – with sunset being at 19.45 it all depended on when I got the tent up!! If nearer six then I’d go up Meall Horn but if nearer five then I would tackle Arkle.

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As I happens I eventually pitched the tent by 17.30 in a fantastically idyllic spot – one of the best mountain views overlooking Arkle – I was impressed.

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So without much hesitation I set about conquering Arkle! I was a little apprehensive about the time but checked the map and reasoned I should be back with enough light to spare. What I didn’t take into consideration was the extremely rough underfoot conditions. This was real ankle breaking territory so I had to take my time. To slow me down a little more – the cloud came in and my plan to get shots of Foinaven from Arkle’s ridge were scuppered! I eventually reached the top around 19.15, giving me around an hours worth of light to get back I reckoned. I quickened the pace but soon slowed as I reached the boulder fields around Lochan na Faoileige.

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The light was fading fast but I didn’t panic and rush, eventually making it to the tent with the headtorch on!!
After this excitement I made tea and relaxed on my new downmat. Prior to this all I had for wild camps was a ¾ length cheap thermarest. It had been ok but I could always feel any stone under me and usually did not sleep very well. The new 9” (rather expensive lilo) was fantastic and I slept from 10 through to 05.50 when the alarm woke me.

The forecast had suggested clear skies in the morning with sunshine through the day interspersed with cloud. Unfortunately when I got up he summits were covered, cloud base around 650-700m 

I struck cap and was walking by 07.00, headed for Meall Horn. This grass hill is more impressive on the NE side with steep cliffs falling into a Loch; however I tackled it from the Bealach an Easaine Uaine, where I had camped. The cloud rolled in and then the rain started. I was demoralised. In my head I was going to wake to a glorious sunrise and head up and over these mountains with the sun at my back. In reality it was, wet, windy and cold and furthermore the sun was not looking like making an appearance. I trudged on and made the summit. Every now and again, Ben Hope would appear to the west through the cloud and it was bathed in Sunshine!! I couldn’t believe it, these western hills must have been acting as a barrier to the cloud getting any further inland That was testing! Anyhow I carried on and was soon at the Bealach Horn, just below the cloud. I took a bearing on the compass for An t-Sail Mhor, the first peak on Foinavens ridge, and headed north into the cloud. I was cold and miserable and it seemed to take me ages to reach the summit. Visibility was about 30 metres maximum and the rain was sporadic in nature. I checked the forecast again – 50% chance of cloud free Munros and excellent visibility – was I in the only place with zero visibility, rain and clag!! My moral was low- so on the 770 metre summit I fed and watered myself and added my down jacket and winter gloves to the mix. This helped, and refuelled and warmed up I set off again. I think it was about 10.00 by now. The spectacular ridge walking had not yet started but this abruptly changed as soon as I left the next summit at 808m. A steep descent got the hands out of the pockets and a scramble left me on the ridge. For the remainder of the walk I felt I was on a 15m long treadmill as the ridge appeared from the fog and continued. Every now and again the pinnacles off the ridge would loom out of the greyness and I half expected Gollum to pear round these at any moment. Although wet and clagy it was an atmospheric place. More scrambling was required after pass Cadha na Beucaich. I was really tired now but knew I only had one more ascent before reaching the summit. The going under foot is treacherous in places and as with Arkle, good foot placements are required!! This was a real mental battle!

I reached the summit of Ganu Mor at 11.30. I initially visited the westerly most summit and refuelled then noticed a path heading east – scared I might be on the wrong summit I headed along to the other cairn and made sure I had visited both. GPS was telling me I was in exactly the right place but I didn’t take any chances!! So, an egg sandwich, chocolate bar and pack of win gums and I was ready to tackle the ridge again!!! Onwards I went and as I headed back lighter patches of mist appeared – seemed the sun was fighting back. Every now and again a brocken spectre would flash to the left of me but every time I got the camera out – it disappeared! I even stopped for about ten minutes at on spot waiting for a glimpse but it never happened . Onwards through the fog, my thoughts now turned to getting home. Onwards I trudged up and down, scrambling here and there, footing going astray every now and again. I kept my phone off – only turning it on to confirm with my map I was were I thought I was utilising the GPS app.

Then it happened- about 20 minutes too late – as I was approaching An t-Sail Mhor for the second time – the whole ridge appeared behind me and the cloud lifted in literally 3 minutes. An amazing sight. All of a sudden I could see out to the North past Loch Eriboll, Ben Hopes semi circular back was standing proud, and near by the cloud broke off Arkle. I wished I had been on the summit at this point however was not going to complain after being inside a cloud for the best part of 7 hours!!

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I sat and soaked in the views from this final summit, then headed for the car – a long walk out. I had met no one since the couple from Bristol, a perfect wild break. I eventually reached the car at 16.15, just over 24hrs from leaving it. It had been a mixed bag up there but memories have been collected and a return to Foinhaven planned for an ascent in good weather  - any excuse to get back…..

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Re: Foinaven Wild Camp with Arkle and Horn too (Video)

Postby litljortindan » Wed Sep 18, 2013 8:28 pm

Great video, despite the weather. Arkle sticks in my head from spring 2003 I think because it was one of the few places you could go walking. I liked the pavement in the middle. Been over most of the Foinaven ridges from the north which is quite a good approach.
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Re: Foinaven Wild Camp with Arkle and Horn too (Video)

Postby lochlaggan » Wed Sep 18, 2013 10:53 pm

:clap: :clap: :clap:

Thanks for sharing!
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Re: Foinaven Wild Camp with Arkle and Horn too (Video)

Postby mountainstar » Thu Sep 19, 2013 8:29 am

Another great video Murray.
Shame about the clag, and yes that ridge does go on forever!
I camped in a similar spot at Bealach Horn many years ago when I did this trio...It is indeed a great spot for a wild-camp. :D
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Re: Foinaven Wild Camp with Arkle and Horn too (Video)

Postby malky_c » Thu Sep 19, 2013 10:40 am

Lovely photos (Can't see the video unfortunately - at work) 8) .

Some good memories of a favourite day out too. I crossed all of these in a day, but I think they are more deserving of an overnight stop. Must go back up for some camping sometime :D
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Re: Foinaven Wild Camp with Arkle and Horn too (Video)

Postby Meatball » Thu Sep 19, 2013 8:27 pm

Can you post a link to the video as the embedded one is pixelated on mobile device?

Cheers.
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Re: Foinaven Wild Camp with Arkle and Horn too (Video)

Postby rohan » Fri Sep 20, 2013 12:14 am

Another great video despite the clag. I've still to do Foinaven, saving it for good weather which I hate to say I had on Arkle and Meal Horn but then you have an excuse ( if needed)to return.
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Re: Foinaven Wild Camp with Arkle and Horn too (Video)

Postby BoyVertiginous » Fri Sep 20, 2013 12:01 pm

Thanks for the memories...did Foinaven exactly a month ago today. Painful bypassing Arkle and Meall Horn along the way but, we were walking out to the North and was already a 10-hr day. Like you, we did not get views on the summit of Foinaven, though it did clear on the descent!

Was fine with scrambling/exposure thanks to clag but, that steep scree slope your shown scrambling down to was a bit (h)airy! We dislodged one large boulder there that bounded all the way down to the loch sending up plumes of dust on every bounce...helped sharpen the senses to get us to the bealach below Ganu Mor.

Keen to get back to Arkle and M.Horn so, overnight camp appeals as could do Foinaven again if clear. Great pitch.
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Re: Foinaven Wild Camp with Arkle and Horn too (Video)

Postby Graeme D » Fri Sep 20, 2013 11:15 pm

Cracking.
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Re: Foinaven Wild Camp with Arkle and Horn too (Video)

Postby EvanandEarth » Sat Sep 21, 2013 8:27 pm

Amazing pictures Wilkiemurray - so good that they would be perfect as desktop backgrounds/screensavers (If only I could save them ;) !)

I definitely need to get up that way soon.

Thanks, these hills have been added to the 'To Do' list :)
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Re: Foinaven Wild Camp with Arkle and Horn too (Video)

Postby mallyonline » Sun Sep 22, 2013 4:04 am

Wonderful mountain. I went over to the west coast 20th July 2013 on a scouting mission after hearing stories of this grand rocky mountain. I was not disappointed.

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:clap:

I'm planning a busy summer 2014 with a lot of great mountains out west and Arkle is high on the list.
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Re: Foinaven Wild Camp with Arkle and Horn too (Video)

Postby wilkiemurray » Mon Sep 23, 2013 7:48 pm

litljortindan wrote:Great video, despite the weather. Arkle sticks in my head from spring 2003 I think because it was one of the few places you could go walking. I liked the pavement in the middle. Been over most of the Foinaven ridges from the north which is quite a good approach.


Arkle is a great mountain - I headed up it from the beleach where I had camped which was a very rocky walk! - was not too bad once I reached the first peak-some easy scrambling along the crest was lovely too :D
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Re: Foinaven Wild Camp with Arkle and Horn too (Video)

Postby wilkiemurray » Mon Sep 23, 2013 7:48 pm

lochlaggan wrote::clap: :clap: :clap:

Thanks for sharing!


no problem..
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Re: Foinaven Wild Camp with Arkle and Horn too (Video)

Postby wilkiemurray » Mon Sep 23, 2013 7:50 pm

mountainstar wrote:Another great video Murray.
Shame about the clag, and yes that ridge does go on forever!
I camped in a similar spot at Bealach Horn many years ago when I did this trio...It is indeed a great spot for a wild-camp. :D



Thanks Alan - I think in my short wild camping experiences this is one of the best sites
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Re: Foinaven Wild Camp with Arkle and Horn too (Video)

Postby wilkiemurray » Mon Sep 23, 2013 7:51 pm

malky_c wrote:Lovely photos (Can't see the video unfortunately - at work) 8) .

Some good memories of a favourite day out too. I crossed all of these in a day, but I think they are more deserving of an overnight stop. Must go back up for some camping sometime :D


Thanks Malky - was great fun- hope you got to see the video :wink:
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