walkhighlands

Share your personal walking route experiences in Scotland, and comment on other peoples' reports.
Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.

Arkle and the matter of Horn

Arkle and the matter of Horn


Postby simon-b » Sat Aug 19, 2017 6:35 pm

Corbetts included on this walk: Arkle, Meall Horn

Date walked: 13/08/2017

Time taken: 10.25 hours

Distance: 25.6 km

Ascent: 1612m

2 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).


Track_2017-08-13 192142.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


An enjoyable week's stay in Altnaharra was coming to its climax. I'd been climbing Corbetts using regular routes which seemed the prudent thing, given the time of year. But a promising weather forecast for non-stalking Sunday gave license to go off piste for what was to be the highlight of my trip. As it turned out, it was raining heavily when I parked up near Achfary. But it was only a shower which soon passed, so my boots were on and I was moving by Loch Stack.

IMG_4959.JPG
Loch Stack and Arkle

The wind seemed to be coming from the NW, where there was a mixture of blue sky and clouds. Both Ben Stack and Arkle had there heads in mist.

IMG_4962.JPG
Heading towards Arkle

Prevailing conditions would determine whether I went for Arkle or Meall Horn first, although of course this involved guesswork. I wanted to be on the sharp section of Arkle's ridge in dry conditions. Walking alongside the Allt Horn, the weather was looking promising...

IMG_4965.JPG
Allt Horn

...so I turned up towards Arkle. A large herd of stags crossed the Allt na Dige Moire in front of me, which was good to see. I've heard larger numbers of deer are being culled these days around here, a controversial topic.

Skirting left of Meall Aonghais, the real character of this mountain country became apparent.

IMG_4979.JPG
Lochan na Faoileige and Meall Horn from between Meall Aonghais and Arkle

IMG_4980.JPG
Foinaven and Lochan an Easain Uaine from between Meall Aonghais and Arkle

After ascending a stony slope - not too difficult - I was on Arkle's SE top. By now I was in and out of the mist. I moved along the ridge, dropping to a bealach and then up to the 751 m top. The clouds were on and off the ridge.

IMG_4988.JPG
Moving towards the ridge leading to Arkle's summit

At least conditions were dry when I reached the narrow, scrambly section. There was nothing too technical here, but the rock wasn't the grippiest and care was required with one or two awkward foot placements in quite exposed spots. Onto a flatter, easier section, and I was completely in the cloud. The summit was reached with not a lot to see. But then the cloud lifted a little. Only little bits of Foinaven were visible, but there were some great views downwards.

IMG_4995.JPG
Loch Laxford from Arkle

As I began to retrace my steps, conditions were clear. The narrow ridge presented no problems on the way back.

IMG_5009.JPG
Returning to the narrow ridge from Arkle's summit, with a view of Loch Stack

IMG_5012.JPG
Heading back towards Arkles SE top

IMG_5015.JPG
Arkles narrow ridge in retrospect

Descending from the 751 m top towards the bealach I was caught in a shower, but this soon cleared.

IMG_5018.JPG
Foinaven from between Arkle's tops

IMG_5024.JPG
Assynt hills, Ben Stack and Loch Stack from between Arkle's tops

I climbed back onto the SE top, with clear views this time.

IMG_5025.JPG
Arkle's summit from the SE top

IMG_5027.JPG
Foinaven from Arkle's SE top

Back down the stony slope, the bealach with Meall Aonghais was reached. This top was skirted on the north above An Garbh-choire. The ground here was much more rough with larger boulders. I reached to shores of Lochan na Faoileige in pleasant conditions - this is a nice spot. To the east of the lochan, I moved down a fairly rocky rib heading NE. This gave easier, dry walking, with wet looking sections on either side.

IMG_5038.JPG
Creagan Meall Horn from below Lochan na Faoileige

Leaving the rib to make my way east for Meall Horn, things became wetter underfoot. After crossing the Bealach Horn track, the rough, stony ground of Arkle was truly left behind for the rough, grassy terrain of Meall Horn. The peat hags around here did not look good and some detouring was called for to try and find a decent way across. At one point I did manage to sink to my knees in a marsh. Care was required to pull my feet out without losing a boot.

As the gradient steepened, the ground was grassy and still quite wet, but nothing like as bad as around those hags lower down. Spirits were lifted as good weather continued and more great scenery unfolded.

IMG_5044.JPG
Ascending Meall Horn, looking over to Suilven and Quinag

The gradient eased and things became drier underfoot as I swung right towards the top of the day's second Corbett. This rounded hill is definitely a Gaelic Meall rather than a Swiss-German Horn, but it is a superb viewpoint!

IMG_5059.JPG
Cranstackie, Beinn Spionnaidh and Loch Eriboll from Meall Horn

IMG_5060.JPG
Orkneys (just visible) and Ben Hope from Meall Horn

IMG_5062.JPG
Ben Hee and Meallan Liath Coire Mhic Dhughaill from Meall Horn

After taking in the panorama, from Assynt to the Outer Hebrides to the Orkneys to Caithness, it was time to start the descent. This made me glad I'd done Arkle first. Having started with Horn would have meant crossing those horrendous peat hags twice, but now I had the option to go over Creachan Thormaid.

IMG_5067.JPG
Descending towards Creachan Thormaid

IMG_5074.JPG
Loch Stack and Ben Stack from near Creachan Thormaid

IMG_5075.JPG
Foinaven from near Creachan Thormaid

Actually, there were some more hags to negotiate moving down from Sail an Taighain, but these were not as bad as those crossed before the ascent. The track below Bad an Taghain was reached, and I turned right and back towards Loch Stack.

IMG_5084.JPG
Boulders below Bad an Taghain

There was some fine scenery in retrospect along the path, but I kept on moving; just stopping to take a photo caused midges to arrive in vast amounts.

IMG_5091.JPG
A last look back at Arkle

Back at the car, it was time for the longish drive back to Altnaharra passing Lochs More, Merkland and Shin. Mandy at the B and B had cooked a 7:00 am breakfast to allow for a big day, and now she was happy to do a 9:00 pm evening meal. So thanks are due to her for a great week, and to her husband Lindsay for providing useful information about activities on the estates in the area. Definitely a place worth visiting!
User avatar
simon-b
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 1914
Munros:282   Corbetts:30
Grahams:7   Donalds:12
Sub 2000:1   Hewitts:156
Wainwrights:214   Islands:4
Joined: Jan 2, 2012
Location: Wakefield, West Yorkshire

Re: Arkle and the matter of Horn

Postby rockhopper » Sat Aug 19, 2017 10:18 pm

Good to see you back up here, Simon. Sounds as though you had a good week. :thumbup:
Haven't got around to looking at possible corbett routes up here yet but must keep this in mind as a possible combination. The B&B sounds good too - cheers :)
User avatar
rockhopper
 
Posts: 6382
Munros:282   Corbetts:207
Grahams:60   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:8   Hewitts:2
Wainwrights:3   Islands:19
Joined: Jun 1, 2009
Location: Glasgow

Re: Arkle and the matter of Horn

Postby Mal Grey » Mon Aug 21, 2017 10:56 am

Good stuff, amazing terrain!
User avatar
Mal Grey
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 2875
Munros:110   Corbetts:20
Grahams:8   
Sub 2000:3   Hewitts:113
Wainwrights:71   Islands:5
Joined: Dec 1, 2011
Location: Surrey, probably in a canoe! www.wildernessisastateofmind.co.uk

Re: Arkle and the matter of Horn

Postby BlackPanther » Mon Aug 21, 2017 12:28 pm

It's such a fantastic group of mountains :D I guess if they were Munros, you would see crowds of people clambering up the quartzite :wink:

We did Foinaven ridge the day before (Saturday the 12th), starting from the same point. It was our second attempt on this mountain, the previous one abandoned due to very high winds. This time weather was much better - lucky us!
Arkle and the ridge of Foinaven from Ganu Mor:
Image

I remember the Meall Horn peat hags well - I almost lost my boots, too :lol: :lol:
User avatar
BlackPanther
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 3202
Munros:260   Corbetts:163
Grahams:112   
Sub 2000:40   
Joined: Nov 2, 2010
Location: Beauly, Inverness-shire

Re: Arkle and the matter of Horn

Postby simon-b » Tue Aug 22, 2017 8:11 pm

rockhopper wrote:Good to see you back up here, Simon. Sounds as though you had a good week. :thumbup:
Haven't got around to looking at possible corbett routes up here yet but must keep this in mind as a possible combination. The B&B sounds good too - cheers :)

Cheers rockhopper. You should really enjoy the Corbetts up here.

Mal Grey wrote:Good stuff, amazing terrain!

It's well worth the trip to this area for those of us who live a lot further south, Mal, for this terrain and scenery.

BlackPanther wrote:It's such a fantastic group of mountains :D I guess if they were Munros, you would see crowds of people clambering up the quartzite...We did Foinaven ridge the day before (Saturday the 12th)

It is a tremendous group of mountains, BP. But the North Coast 500 is already drawing enough crowds into the area and taking up all the accomodation :shock: It is very quiet once you get up onto the Corbetts, though. Nice picture from Foinaven - I was on Ben Hee that day, so not that far away.
User avatar
simon-b
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 1914
Munros:282   Corbetts:30
Grahams:7   Donalds:12
Sub 2000:1   Hewitts:156
Wainwrights:214   Islands:4
Joined: Jan 2, 2012
Location: Wakefield, West Yorkshire

2 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).



Walkhighlands community forum is now advert free

We need help to keep the site online.
Can you help support Walkhighlands and the online community by setting up a monthly donation by direct debit?



Return to Walk reports - Scotland

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 345 guests