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Remarkable Arkle

Remarkable Arkle

Postby 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: 787m

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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.

Morning mist

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.

Arkle from the causeway footbridge

Footbridge over Allt a Chullimn

Towards Airdachuillinn

Ben Stack

Ben Stack and Allt a Chullimn


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 boulder portal

The cool shade of the plantation

Looking back to the trees

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.

Above the plantation on the zig zag path to Bealach Horn

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.

The path on the grassy slopes where I dropped my guidebook

Ben Stack and Quinnag

It was quite hard going and warm. I reached a more densely stoned slope and the first summit could be seen.

Creagan Meall Horn and Meall Horn with Ben Hope

Towards the 758m summit

Foinaven was a constant presence then until I descended.

First view of Foinaven

Foinaven and Ben Hope

Ben Hope and Ben Klibreck

Stunning Foinaven

Towards the sea from the 758m summit


Arkle's ridge

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.

Looking back along the ridge from the summit

ImageSummit cairn

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.

Image Loch Inchard with Sandwood Bay just visible

Image Summit with Foinaven

Loch an Easin Uaine

ImageAm Bathaich

ImageRidge path

Image 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?

ImageLoch an Nighe Leathaid

ImageAm Bathaich

ImageLooking back at the scrambling section

ImageClimbing from the bealach

ImageBack up to the first summit

ImageFoinaven again...

Image...and again

Image Arkle's ridge

Image One day I hope to climb Foinaven

ImageOne last view

ImageLike a cobbled pavement

ImageBen Hope

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.
Image Quinnag

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.
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Walk cycle
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Re: Remarkable Arkle

Postby Avocetboy » Sat Aug 29, 2015 11:34 pm

We were on quinag the same day you were on arkle. Great report. Arkle is on my hit list for next year
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Re: Remarkable Arkle

Postby ancancha » Sun Aug 30, 2015 10:17 am

Nice photos :clap:
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 :wink:
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Re: Remarkable Arkle

Postby spiderwebb » Sun Aug 30, 2015 1:03 pm

A fine walk, these are magnificent mountains, less frequented no doubt due to distance, but my favourite area of all.
Foinaven, the forgotten munro or so I'm led to believe, hard to know the truth.

Fantastic photos :D
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Re: Remarkable Arkle

Postby Graeme D » Sun Aug 30, 2015 8:56 pm

One day soon I shall pack the tent in the car and head to this neck of the woods for a week or so. One day. Until then I shall have to content myself with looking at your stunning photos! :clap:
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Re: Remarkable Arkle

Postby BlackPanther » Mon Aug 31, 2015 11:46 am

One of the finest Corbetts! Wonderful views, especially to Foinaven ridge. We had a similar, sunny day on Arkle last September. This year we aimed for Foinaven, managed everything around it (Cranstackie, Meall Horn, McDhugaills Hill) but missed the biggie. Luckily, living near Inverness has its advantages, we don't need an overnighter to visit the area :D
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Re: Remarkable Arkle

Postby dogplodder » Mon Aug 31, 2015 12:10 pm

Fine detailed report. :D
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Re: Remarkable Arkle

Postby Chris_Ryan777 » Tue Sep 08, 2015 6:45 pm

Brilliant review and pictures, an amazing and clear day to complete the walk!
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 :D
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Re: Remarkable Arkle

Postby Mal Grey » Thu Sep 10, 2015 1:14 pm

Superb report, which reinforces the fact I need to do Arkle! (and Foinaven too)
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Re: Remarkable Arkle

Postby Fife Flyer » Thu Sep 10, 2015 1:30 pm

Brought back great memories of the Durness Meet when I finally managed to conquer Arkle :wink:

Not a bad Corbett to start off with 8)
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Re: Remarkable Arkle

Postby Walk cycle » Thu Sep 10, 2015 7:01 pm

Thanks for reading and commenting, it really was a great day which I will never forget. I have just got to finish my Quinag report now!
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