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WH Meet - Durness 2015 and my Arkle report

WH Meet - Durness 2015 and my Arkle report


Postby PeteR » Tue Apr 14, 2015 10:42 pm

Route description: Arkle

Corbetts included on this walk: Arkle

Date walked: 10/04/2015

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It was time for the 2015 Walkhighlands spring meet. Our organiser, Fife Flyer (Martin) had chosen Durness as the venue. It had been some years since I had ventured to this part of the world and so I was looking forward to it. Friday was looking the best for the weather, with Saturday and Sunday looking a bit on the wild side.

Initially I had put out “feelers” for the twin Corbett combination of Cranstackie and Beinn Spionnaidh for the Friday. Suggestions were that it could have been a popular hill. But with the best weather forecast for the Friday I found myself swithering at the last minute. Would Arkle be a better bet for the best weather day?

I was still swithering as I left Ayrshire at 2.00 a.m. under a pale orange moon, hearing of the sad passing of the great Australian Cricketer and commentator Richie Benaud. Another of my childhood heroes no longer with us :( Man, I’m getting old :roll:

ImageP1160585 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
I was still swithering as I stopped at the Struie Hill viewpoint on the B9176 looking down the Dornoch Firth toward Ben Klibreck.

ImageP1160591 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
I was still swithering as I drove alongside Loch Shin, soaking up the impressive views all around me.

ImageP1160601 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
And still I was swithering as Ben Stack came into view, becoming ever more impressive as I drove toward it.

ImageP1160613 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
But then Arkle came in to view and I was swithering no more. The opportunity was too good to pass up on a day like this. I simply had to have her :D

ImageP1160617 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1160621 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
I was parked up at the spacious parking area at Achfary just after 9.00 a.m. When I arrived there was just a single camper van parked up, with a chap readying himself for his walk (as I didn’t see him at all I assume he was headed to Meall Horn next door to Arkle or perhaps Ben Stack). As for me, I was suited and booted just about 9.30. and on my way.

The initial walk is along a good track to the house at Airdachuillin. What a stunning position 8) I wasn’t the slightest bit jealous as I walked passed :mrgreen: Almost immediately on passing the house the track downgrades to landrover track, but progress is easy to Lone, beside Loch Stack.

ImageP1160629 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
Arkle just simply dominates :D She is one impressive mountain, that’s for sure. Ben Stack tries its best too to draw attention to itself, but is always going to struggle in such company.

ImageP1160633 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
Soon I was at the Gates of Mordor and a short section of forestry where the path starts a short, but steep climb up beside the Allt Horn, where easy progress was made to the small cairn marking the point where I would take to the flanks of this stunning hill (I ignored the first, larger, cairn I came across marking what I assume to be another option for reaching Arkle’s NW top).

ImageP1160640 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1160647 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

The initial climb is up grassy, heathery, slopes, which although not as steep as the map might suggest, aren’t my favourite surface for ascending hills. Thankfully it’s an easy line to follow up and was over soon enough, the sight of the rocky upper slopes of the eastern top providing suitable encouragement to keep me moving. There were also the improving, if hazy, views all around, with Quinag looking ever more impressive as it peaked out from above the hills immediately ahead of me :D Even managed a distant, hazy, view of the King of the Hills – An Teallach :D

ImageP1160648 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1160651 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1160655 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1160661 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1160663 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
The grey rocky top of Arkle provided something of a moonscape – I’ve never been to the moon, but if I ever did I’d imagine it look something like this, but maybe with a good covering of dust too. Looking back the contrasting rounded form of Meall Horn came fully into view, with lochan na Faoileige in front and Ben Hope poking out from behind :D And then came the first view of Foinaven, which while not showing the complete ridge at its best still certainly impressed :D

ImageP1160670 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1160673 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1160678 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1160682 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1160683 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1160693 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
This was a view that just got better and better as the remainder of the walk to the summit of Arkle continued, with the full extent of the ridge coming into view :D

But as Arkle’s eastern top was reached my Friday was about to get even better, as the full glory of the remainder of the walk was set out before me :D I have to admit to letting out some kind of yelp of delight at the sight :lol:

ImageP1160694 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1160698 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1160700 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
To my right Ben Stack also looked like a good hill, with the blue waters of Loch Stack in the foreground – one for another day for sure :D

ImageP1160702 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
The initial descent off the eastern top was a tad steep and a little slippy on the loose dirt, but soon enough I was at the saddle and preparing for the climb to the summit proper. But not before I had spied a possible alternative descent off the hill for later, down what looked like a steep sided Coir Uairidh :wink:

ImageP1160711 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1160714 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1160726 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1160733 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
But there was still plenty of excitement for me before attempting that. After the initial, fairly easy climb to the summit ridge there’s the little matter of the exquisitely narrowing ridge before arriving at the final broad, rocky ridge to the cairn. In truth the narrow section isn’t difficult, just a wonderful if all too short airy diversion 8) It’s always difficult (perhaps even dangerous) to give views on difficulty, for fear of giving a false impression. For me there was one point definitely where careful foot placement and had holds were a must for a couple of steps, with another one, possibly two places where hands were needed for balance. Otherwise I was just enjoying myself. My only regret was it was all done in a flash..........but then there was always the return :wink:

ImageP1160749 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1160759 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
And then I was at the summit :D

ImageP1160761 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1160762 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
Best views of Foinaven were to be had by moving along the ridge slightly.

ImageP1160773 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1160775 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
Then it was time for the return along the narrow ridge, admiring the seemingly flat bottomed Coire of Am Bathaich and Loch an Easain Uaine :D

ImageP1160799 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1160802 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1160803 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
Once back at the saddle I opted for the Coir Uairidh route down. Initially very, very steep on slippery scree. Slow progress at first (thankfully) or else I could have been down a bit faster than I would have liked (and with a bad headache). Eventually though the path turned to grass and in truth I was down a lot quicker than I had expected overall.

ImageP1160805 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1160813 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
And the views across to Ben Stack across the Loch of the same name were simply superb 8)

ImageP1160820 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1160821 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
I did make a bit of a boo boo though. I think I should have trended left once the worst of the steepness was over and followed an easy broad ledge down to the forestry I’d walked through earlier in the day. Instead I continued to follow the Allt a’Choir Uairadh down onto the An Nighe Leathad. Not a problem really, except leaving me with an at times boggy traipse back to the landrover track at Lone. Disturbed a couple of groups of deer on the way (one group of which was probably only a few yards away when they realised I was there – not sure who was more spooked; them or me :shock: ).

ImageP1160834 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1160838 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
Once back on the track it was then an easy walk back to the car, taking a couple of zoomed shots off my Coir Uairidh descent – looks steeper than it felt in truth.

ImageP1160847 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1160848 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
Once back at the car it was then a case of completing the rest of the journey to Durness and the campsite at Sango Sands. This took a bit longer than planned. You see, I kept stopping to take photos of the views :lol: Okay, the next photos aren’t directly linked to Arkle, but hey, I was on my holidays :lol:

ImageP1160862 by Riedel2012, on Flickr

ImageP1160873 by Riedel2012, on Flickr
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PeteR
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Re: WH Meet - Durness 2015 and my Arkle report

Postby Collaciotach » Tue Apr 14, 2015 11:10 pm

Passed these on my way to Conibhal and Beinn Mor Assaint last week.

Your pics have convinced me that I will wait for a good day to do Arkle .... fab report :clap:
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Re: WH Meet - Durness 2015 and my Arkle report

Postby PeteR » Wed Apr 15, 2015 7:41 am

Thanks Colla.

Definitely a hill for good weather :wink: Especially given the drive to get there.
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Re: WH Meet - Durness 2015 and my Arkle report

Postby Beaner001 » Wed Apr 15, 2015 8:41 am

Here was me thinking all this time that you'd been to the moon :lol: :lol:
There's been a good few reports on this area recently for obvious reasons and they all really promote it well, I can't wait to go now. Great TR Pete, cheers :clap: :clap:
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Re: WH Meet - Durness 2015 and my Arkle report

Postby Fife Flyer » Wed Apr 15, 2015 9:02 am

Enjoyed that Pete :clap: :clap:

Interesting route down, probably more direct too :wink: We enjoyed the snowy gully descent, but of course we had to ascend to the minor top first :(
I think the general opinion is that Arkle is a fantastic hill and because of it's location is maybe a forgotten gem, I would definitely return 8)
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Re: WH Meet - Durness 2015 and my Arkle report

Postby dooterbang » Wed Apr 15, 2015 11:07 am

WOW!!! Stunning photos Pete :)

I've spent some time in this area on a few occasions but still not done this hill, but I'll be doing it next time for sure.

Ha, I know that feeling when you want to burst with the excitement and let it all out :wink:

I agree, that's my vision of a lunar landscape too.

Great report.

Cheers.
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Re: WH Meet - Durness 2015 and my Arkle report

Postby PeteR » Wed Apr 15, 2015 12:12 pm

Beaner001 wrote:Here was me thinking all this time that you'd been to the moon :lol: :lol:
There's been a good few reports on this area recently for obvious reasons and they all really promote it well, I can't wait to go now. Great TR Pete, cheers :clap: :clap:


When I grow up I want to be an astronaut :lol: Until then I'll continue to work in an office :lol:

I think Arkle promotes itself really. Us scribes and photographers are merely its tool to achieve this.
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Re: WH Meet - Durness 2015 and my Arkle report

Postby PeteR » Wed Apr 15, 2015 12:15 pm

Fife Flyer wrote:Enjoyed that Pete :clap: :clap:

Interesting route down, probably more direct too :wink: We enjoyed the snowy gully descent, but of course we had to ascend to the minor top first :(
I think the general opinion is that Arkle is a fantastic hill and because of it's location is maybe a forgotten gem, I would definitely return 8)


Thanks Martin.

I'm with you, definitely an area to return to :D Foinaven needs to be investigated too :wink:
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Re: WH Meet - Durness 2015 and my Arkle report

Postby PeteR » Wed Apr 15, 2015 12:17 pm

dooterbang wrote:WOW!!! Stunning photos Pete :)

I've spent some time in this area on a few occasions but still not done this hill, but I'll be doing it next time for sure.

Ha, I know that feeling when you want to burst with the excitement and let it all out :wink:

I agree, that's my vision of a lunar landscape too.

Great report.

Cheers.


Cheers Paul.

I hope when you get to do Arkle you have the sort of day I enjoyed. Definitely a hill for good weather, especially given the drive just to get to it.
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Re: WH Meet - Durness 2015 and my Arkle report

Postby tina bonar » Wed Apr 15, 2015 8:42 pm

Superb photos Pete :clap: :clap:
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Re: WH Meet - Durness 2015 and my Arkle report

Postby rockhopper » Wed Apr 15, 2015 10:28 pm

Arkle reports like buses....wait ages for one then get two at the same time :lol: :wink: :wink:

Cracking day for it, Pete, and some stunning photos - can see why you didn't want to pass up the chance ! - cheers :)
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Re: WH Meet - Durness 2015 and my Arkle report

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Thu Apr 16, 2015 11:42 am

Fantastic photos, looks a delight. :clap: :clap: We were in this area last year doing the northern part of the Cape Wrath trail, camped by Loch Stack and admired Arkle from below so a big thank you for showing us what to expect when we get round to getting a bit higher :D :D
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