by Walk cycle » Sat Aug 29, 2015 11:21 pm
Route description: Arkle
Corbetts included on this walk: Arkle
Date walked: 17/08/2015
Time taken: 7 hours
Distance: 16 km
Ascent: 787m6 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).
Nine years ago I saw Arkle from the bike. Nearing the end of a cycling holiday in the North West Highlands I was returning from Durness on the epic A838 that winds through Sutherland and Assynt. I had not booked accommodation and was unsure whether to carry on to Achmelvich or head to Lairg. On reaching a telephone box at Rhiconnich I booked a B n B in Lairg, cycled to Laxford Bridge and headed east. It was a beautifully clear and warm day and I stopped at what would have been Achfary and was dazzled by the white quartzite mountain across the loch.
The morning of my day on Arkle in August 2015 arrived with mist and a hazy sun.
The forecast was good and I set off certain that the mist would lift. After West Merkland visibility was excellent and I arrived at Achfary and began the walk. I headed out to Lone. It was clear, like that day described above and Arkle was stunningly white. In the distance I could see what I presume was an estate worker leading horses or ponies on the track east. My heels were hurting after Ben Loyal and they became increasingly sore.
The split stones were ahead of me with the plantation behind. Anybody who has seen an image of these stones or been on this walk must have been struck by their magical resonance . They gave the appearance of a gateway to Bealach Horn and the astounding landscape that lay beyond.
Passing through the stone gateway, the trees gave cool shade whilst the path was wet underfoot.
The ziz zag path upwards was steep and I was quickly sweating . I had plenty of water with me but on returning to the car at the end of day I was almost dry. I reached the small cairn and the path that would take me on to the slopes of Arkle. The path was quite distinct for a long time becoming less clear on the increasingly rocky but grassy ascent.
I was sad to lose my guidebook, many times had I read and re-read about the walks in the Far North. If you are on Arkle, let me know if you find it.
It was quite hard going and warm. I reached a more densely stoned slope and the first summit could be seen.
Foinaven was a constant presence then until I descended.
So, why the gap? Where are the photos from the ridge?
This was my first solo ridge walk and I was unsure whether I could do it. There was a big drop but I never felt in any danger. Half way along the scrambly section I hesitated. Should I continue? I momentarily froze. I looked back the way I had come. I looked forward, breathed deeply and carried on.
I enjoyed the ridge, even more so on the return, not using the camera helped me to concentrate on the present moment. In wind and rain the experience would have been very different I am sure. Instead it was still and quiet.
To have reached Arkle's summit was a real achievement for me. What an experience! Hill walking is demanding: the planning; the weighing up of the conditions; your own mental preparation and of course the physical act of walking and climbing. To reach the top of Arkle on a day like this one was overwhelming.
Loch Inchard with Sandwood Bay just visible
Summit with Foinaven
I felt less apprehensive on the return
Looking back here from the ridge, confidently taking photos, I spotted a huge bird crying plaintively. Too big for a crow and definitely not a buzzard. The photo does not pick it up. Could it have been an eagle on Arkle's airy summit?
Loch an Nighe Leathaid
Looking back at the scrambling section
Climbing from the bealach
Back up to the first summit
One day I hope to climb Foinaven
One last view
Like a cobbled pavement
Chatted to a couple on the return to the car and this was the last photo I took that day. Quinnag would be the next mountain I would attempt on Wednesday.
A great day. I am still amazed that the conditions were so good. Without doubt my best mountain experience so far. Arkle: no wonder the race horse was such a winner.
by Avocetboy » Sat Aug 29, 2015 11:34 pm
by ancancha » Sun Aug 30, 2015 10:17 am
Know what you mean about just having to concentrate on what you are doing on a tricky part, you will get used to it and gain your confidence
by spiderwebb » Sun Aug 30, 2015 1:03 pm
Foinaven, the forgotten munro or so I'm led to believe, hard to know the truth.
by Graeme D » Sun Aug 30, 2015 8:56 pm
by BlackPanther » Mon Aug 31, 2015 11:46 am
by Chris_Ryan777 » Tue Sep 08, 2015 6:45 pm
The pictures of Foinaven are particular stunning, I know there is a fence at Aintree named after a horse by the same name, but looking at the mountain and the Horse Racing connotation I could almost picture giant horses jumping over!!!
The pictures of the basin's were also stunning from the high viewpoints. The walk seemed to be challenging and rewarding in equal measure so defiantly a good choice. I could imagine some walks are more challenge that reward.
The Boulder Passage as well also has something eerie and magical about it. . .
I look forward to your future reviews
- Posts: 1
- Joined: Sep 8, 2015
by Mal Grey » Thu Sep 10, 2015 1:14 pm
by Fife Flyer » Thu Sep 10, 2015 1:30 pm
Not a bad Corbett to start off with
by Walk cycle » Thu Sep 10, 2015 7:01 pm