Arkle, not worth racing up
by Fife Flyer » Mon Apr 13, 2015 8:15 pm
Route description: Arkle
Corbetts included on this walk: Arkle
Date walked: 10/04/2015
Time taken: 6.5 hours
Distance: 17.5 km
Ascent: 880m6 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
What a dilemma we faced, looking back I realise now that we were spoilt for choice.
After chatting for a few weeks on FB trying to decide what the plan of action would be for the Durness invasion, we had opted to tackle Cranstackie and partner on the Friday because the forecast was promising and Saturday was all doom and gloom.
One of the big problems was the 5 hour drive before we even reached the start.
The plan was to pick up Martin (mg1976) from Inverkeithing Railway Station at 0550hrs and head up to Inverness (Dobbies) where we were meeting up with Gary, Leia and Ruth for breakfast. A slight flaw in the plan was Dobbies didn’t open until 9am, that meant I could dawdle up the A9 and we still arrived 20mins before the shutters of Dobbies were raised
I opted for the 10 piece breakfast and as it turned out it kept me going all day until the evening meal at 7.30pm, great value for a fiver
It was whilst devouring the breakfast that we decided to amend the plan and go for Arkle as the WH timings were a bit more favourable, in theory would take less time
As the organiser of the “Meet” I had been planning to be first to arrive, but I decided to make the most of the weather window and arrive at the bunkhouse once we had finished, I was confident everyone would be able to cope in my absence , as it turned out we (the Martin's) arrived not long after 7pm. It was a quick hello to everyone who was there, dump the bags in the room, beer in the fridge and then down to the pub for dinner
Now onto the walk itself, after the long drive north in a mini convoy with Gary we reached the parking area near Achfary which also doubles up as the start point for Ben Stack, at the south end of Loch Stack.
DSCF0580 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - parking area
The walk starts off along a tarmac road which then turns into a good track which is fairly flat for just over 3km, the next 1.5km continues along the track albeit rising a wee bit. The clue to tell you when to start ascending up Arkle for real is a cairn on the left hand side As usual for reasons that we couldn't come up with answer for, we never noticed the cairn until the descent We much rather see parts of the hill that other walkers miss
DSCF0738 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - how did we not notice that?
The path/track gives great views of the target and Arkle looks absolutely amazing, also Loch Stack and Ben Stack which looked rather pointy when we first saw it from the north, but as we made progress much less pointy
DSCF0582 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Arkle in the distance with Loch Stack on the left
DSCF0584 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Loch Stack with Ben Stack in the background
DSCF0589 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Abhainn an Loin which goes into Loch Stack, fortunately a sturdy bridge is on hand.
The ascent up the side of Arkle was very straightforward, over boulders and heather, I had noticed a snow covered gully so opted to ascend up that way whilst the rest of the gang took the easy route
DSCF0600 by martin_beswick, on Flickr
DSCF0608 by martin_beswick, on Flickr
DSCF0612 by martin_beswick, on Flickr
DSCF0618 by martin_beswick, on Flickr
DSCF0619 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - my route of ascent to the large plateau top
DSCF0628 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - large plateau top
We soon reached the plateau top which is certainly unique and unlike any summit I have ever seen. It was as if loose stones had been steam rollered and flattened into the soil There are a couple of cairns on the plateau and the views of Fionaven were awesome, it looks like an amazing hill and am still puzzled why the huge mass with ridges joining all the pointy bits is only one Corbett
DSCF0630 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Fionaven, the photo says it all
DSCF0631 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Arkle
DSCF0635 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - indicates how large the plateau is
DSCF0637 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Fionaven
DSCF0639 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Loch an Easain Uaine
DSCF0643 by martin_beswick, on Flickr
DSCF0646 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - the way down to the bealach and then up to the ridge
DSCF0648 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - looking down Am Bathaich (a huge gully)
DSCF0650 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Martin on the ridge that leads to the summit
DSCF0651 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Gary and Leia with a superb backdrop
The descent off the plateau was probably the worst part of the walk. There is a well worn path down that consisted of dusty loose stones and boulders then the bealach was reached. We had a quick look to the south to see if it would be possible to descend and traverse round the loose scree back to the path, however there was no obvious route, so we would be ascending up to the plateau again
The route from the bealach to the summit involved a bit of minor scrambling across large boulders and walking across large flat slabs of rock, with fantastic views on both sides
DSCF0654 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Leia posing
DSCF0656 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Martin posing on the slabs
DSCF0660 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - looking out to the Atlantic, shame it was a bit hazy
DSCF0663 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - a typical high level Sutherland photo
After spending time on the summit taking in the amazing views it was time to head back down to the bealach and then up to the plateau. I had mentioned the snow filled gully as a descent option and we all agreed to head that way and have a bit of fun
DSCF0672 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Martin waiting patiently
DSCF0673 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Gary walking gingerly
DSCF0674 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - great to get snow on your boots
DSCF0675 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Martin pretending to do an arrest with his poles
DSCF0676 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Crossing an interesting burn with hardly any wet stuff in it
Descending down the snow field was easy until we reached the lower part, Leia kindly showed us where the stream underneath was, we could hear running water and Leia managed to find it
After the snow field it was just a matter of picking our way down the through the heather and boulders, we opted to follow the burn downhill. We were fortunate in that we could see the path at the bottom that we were aiming for
DSCF0686 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - the burn was fascinating in that it was running over slabby rock that looked almost marble like
DSCF0690 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - water featurel
DSCF0694 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - same water feature, looking like one of those champagne glasses creations where the champers trickles out of the glasses, am sure someone understands what I mean
DSCF0696 by martin_beswick, on Flickr
DSCF0704 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Ben Stack looking amazing in the late afternoon light
DSCF0705 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - view back to the car
DSCF0706 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Narnain boulders
DSCF0710 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - a couple of locals checking to see if we were carrying guns
The walk back along the track as usual seemed much longer than the walk in
A fantastic day out, in great company on a superb unique hill. Gary and Leia summed it up as the best hill so far this year
The forecast for Saturday was doom and gloom, but I had volunteered to accompany Theresa, Charlie and the "leg-end" we all know as Rod to tackle Meall Horn - over to you Rod
PS: A big THANK YOU to all who made the long trek to the far north, hopefully the wee drive was worth the effort Maybe someone else will opt to have another meet in Durness in the future, I for one would definitely attend as Fionaven is calling me back, along with so many other fantastic hills
by tina bonar » Mon Apr 13, 2015 8:23 pm
You're right about being spoilt for choice,we will be back to Durness again for sure!
If only i had more time on my hands
by simon-b » Mon Apr 13, 2015 8:45 pm
by gaffr » Mon Apr 13, 2015 8:51 pm
I think that the very fine Arkle was too valuable a horse to risk in amongst the mayhem that in those times prevailed during the event.
by Collaciotach » Mon Apr 13, 2015 10:00 pm
by PeteR » Mon Apr 13, 2015 10:02 pm
When I get my Arkle report up you'll get to see what that alternative descent looks like
by mountain thyme » Mon Apr 13, 2015 10:06 pm
by Fife Flyer » Mon Apr 13, 2015 10:20 pm
tina bonar wrote:If only i had more time on my hands
After June you will be able to relax
simon-b wrote:Nice to see you in the far north Martin, a great place.
Thanks Simon, see you next month, fingers crossed re you know what
gaffr wrote:Don't forget that the nearby donkey....Foinavon actually won the Grand National horse-race.
Unfortunately I remember watching the National that year
Collaciotach wrote:Aye good stuff ,spoiled for choice right enough eh ?
PeteR wrote:When I get my Arkle report up you'll get to see what that alternative descent looks like
Holding my breath Pete
mountain thyme wrote: Should you not have had on your crampons on that bit
by trekker53 » Mon Apr 13, 2015 10:44 pm
Think I'll have to do Arkle again when we're back in Durness. A great looking mountain especially what I'd seen from Meall Horn.
Good choice in getting most of us to the far north, an often neglected area.
by rockhopper » Mon Apr 13, 2015 10:51 pm
by Beaner001 » Mon Apr 13, 2015 11:56 pm
by The Rodmiester » Tue Apr 14, 2015 7:47 am
by Backpacker » Tue Apr 14, 2015 8:09 am
Was definitely worth doing, I'll head back up that way in the not so distant future to tackle a few of the others.
Not much else I can add that everyone else hasn't said
by BlackPanther » Tue Apr 14, 2015 9:37 am
Did anybody tackle Foinaven by the way? It's the next big Far North target for us, but we're waiting for long summer days.
The next meet is coming to our area so maybe we will show up... I'm working on Kevin, he doesn't like crowd but I have my ways of convincing
by SAVAGEALICE » Tue Apr 14, 2015 9:46 am