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 Meall Horn – A Big Northwest Corbett Combo

Arkle and Meall Horn – A Big Northwest Corbett Combo


Postby allangilly » Sun May 26, 2019 6:21 pm

Route description: Arkle

Corbetts included on this walk: Arkle, Meall Horn

Date walked: 12/05/2019

Time taken: 10 hours

Distance: 27 km

Ascent: 1400m

6 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).

Arkle and Meall Horn – A Big Northwest Corbett Combo

It was day 3 on our hillwalking trip to the northwest. Day 1 on Cul Mor was glorious. Day 2 on the Durness Corbetts was dry and clear. Could the weather hold for a quite unexpected 3 good days out of 3? The answer was to be a resounding ‘yes’ and our biggest day – over 10 hours on the go – was to be blessed with quite superb weather.
We were parked up and ready for the off before 9.00am in perfect conditions. Clear skies, sunshine and no sign of the midgies. There is plenty of parking space just off the A838 to the west of the bridge at 296402. The scenery was already superb. It was going to be a good day!
At the car park. Arkle provides the backdrop.
Image

Across the well-constructed bridge.
Image

Looking back to the carpark with an unusual view of Ben Stack behind.
Image

The track initially along the east side of Loch Stack is good quality and quickly gave us a good view of Arkle, our first objective. It was a very pleasant start to the day heading towards the fine building at Airdachuilinn.
Arkle looking so good.
Image

A good quality track.
Image

Pleasant views on our left at the south end of Loch Stack.
Image

Image

Ben Stack across Loch Stack.
Image

Arkle.
Image

The track gets (slightly) rougher once the well maintained buildings are passed and it winds towards Lone. After about 3km we encountered the well documented large portal boulders, poised to take us into a different world! How right that turned out to be! Wooden fencing detracted a bit from the situation – possibly to stop folk climbing onto them. Some bikes were padlocked to the fence no doubt to ease the first few km for their owners. We were quite happy to walk and soak in the environs.
Around Lone.
Image

The portal rocks at the entrance to the small plantation.
Image

Image

Image

The track then goes much more steeply uphill, initially through a little bit of woodland before leaving civilisation behind. Height is now rapidly gained and we started looking for a track to take us up the lower slopes of Arkle. Although we found a marker cairn, the path was pretty indistinct. However, there was no difficulty and before long we found ourselves using quartzite rock pavements to ascend Arkle’s SSE ridge. It was very dry and there was no real sign of any significant water on the stream on our rhs.
On the uphill track looking back to Ben Stack having passed through the woodland.
Image

The marker cairn on the rough track.
Image

On the mainly trackless lower slopes of Arkle. Meall Horn with a little bit of snow in the distance.
Image

On the early part of the ascent.
Image

Slabs and loose rock.
Image

Image

Image

With height, the views were already opening up and it was a very unrushed ascent for us.
Quinag dominating. Suilven poking through. Cul Mor towards the left.
Image

Somehow, alpine plants find a way to survive here.
Image

Image

As we progressed up the hillside, the rock underfoot was fascinating – a combination of Cambrian quartzite blocks and pipe rock. Although it was steep, it was very easy walking.
Cambrian Quartzite
Image

Pipe rock
Image

At around 730m the bouldery slope plateaus out and we had a bite to eat at the cairn at 310449. The views were very easy on the eye. Arkle’s summit ridge features were now enticingly clear.
Back to the start across Loch Stack to Ben Stack and Quinag. Striking quartzite blocks in the foreground.
Image

Arkle’s summit ridge. Impressive.
Image

The boulderfield on the plateau. Ben More Assynt and Conival in snow.
Image

We crossed the virtually flat rock desert to the cairn at point 758. We didn’t linger long here as we were keen to enjoy the narrow ridge to the summit that we could now clearly see ahead of us. Foinaven was now the dominant landscape feature. That is now top of the list for our next visit.
Across the desert to point 758.
Image

Foinaven!
Image

Looking over to the summit of Arkle.
Image

Ben Hope
Image

There is a drop of about 60m on a rough track to a little bealach on the ridge before height is regained via a bouldery slope. It looked as if a steep westerly descent was possible down loose scree from the bealach. Am Bathaich, the large corrie on our rhs, is a very impressive feature with its wide flat base. Similarly the rock outcrops on its backwall captured our attention.
Just before the descent.
Image

Looking to the down and up of the bealach on the summit ridge.
Image

Back to Ben Stack. Still impressive.
Image

The impressive Am Bathaich corrie.
Image

And again, from further along the ridge.

Image

Rock outcrops on the backwall of the corrie.
Image

There is then a fun bit of scrambling, nowhere difficult in these conditions, as the ridge narrows.
Approaching the narrowing ridge
Image

Angled slabs before the narrow bit of the ridge.
Image

On the ridge.
Image

Image

On top of the sharp bit of the ridge. Exposed and airy, but easy in such benign conditions.
Image

After the narrow bit, there is a wide rock pavement crisscrossed by huge gashes. I wouldn’t be surprised if a number of walking poles had come to grief in these very deep and narrow cracks.
Looking back at the rock pavement on the ridge.
Image

It is then a very easy stroll to the summit cairn. It is a fine viewpoint. It had taken us the best part of 4 leisurely hours to get there. Lunch was spent admiring the 360 degree views.
The summit cairn.
Image

Image

Summit shots.
Looking across to Meall Horn.
Image

Foinaven.
Image

The impressive desolate landscape of rock and water
Image

Looking over Loch an Easain Uaine towards Meall Horn.
Image

After a short stop, during which we became aware of just how far away our next top, Meall Horn was, we retraced our steps back across the narrow ridge to the cairn at point 758. It was to take us 3 more hours to get there.
From point 758 we headed SW aiming for Meall Aonghais which we passed on its northern side.
Leaving point 758.
Image

Descending to Meall Aonghais.
Image

From there the route we chose was rough and exceptionally interesting. As we skirted Arkle’s cliffs, we found ourselves hopping over boulderfields and slabs in a truly magical landscape full of interest. We paused at the western end of Lochan na Faoileige to reassess our route, and opted to pass it on its southern side, aiming for a gap in the slabs of Meall Horn’s lower slopes.
Meall Horn on the descent. Still quite a long way off.
Image

Down round the edge of the cliffs towards Lochan ne Faoileige.
Image

Image

This is a pretty unique landscape.
Image

On our left, Foinaven was still looking good.
Image

At the western end of Lochan na Faoileige about to aim for the gap in the slabs of Meall Horn’s lower slopes (visible directly below its summit).
Image

We stopped for another bite to eat just before we crossed the track around 337454. The immediate environs was of quite dramatic rock slabs and erratic blocks.
Image
Image

Heading down to cross the track.
Image

An interesting view of Foinaven.
Image

It was now a case of picking our way through peat hags and rock bands using obvious strips of green vegetation to ascend Meall Horn’s slopes. It is not such a dramatic mountain as Arkle but the over the shoulder views more than compensated for this. We initially aimed for the bealach between Creagan Meall Horn and Meall Horn although I ended up angling to the right to emerge on the ridge close to the summit.
Heading up. A nice view back to Arkle and our descent route.
Image

Image

Ascending. The sky was doing interesting things!
Image

Looking back.
Image

Approaching the summit. It was now 4.20pm, over 7 hours since we had started walking.
Image

The summit cairn.
Image

Summit shot. A bit of lingering snow.
Image

Summit views.
Yesterday’s hills. Cranstackie and Beinn Spionnaidh.
Image

Ben Stack and Arkle.
Image

Not the best angle for Foinaven.
Image

Arkle looks good.
Image

Ben Hope and Ben Loyal.
Image

After a short break, we headed southwest aiming for the Creachan Thormaid ridge. However, as time was getting on we opted to pass it on its northwestern side and after picking our way through some crags we hit the main track at around 323433.
Heading towards the Creachan Thormaid ridge. As time was now pressing we opted to skirt it on its rhs.
Image

Looking back at Meall Horn.
Image
Arkle and Foinaven on our rhs.
Image

Neatly split rock overlooking Arkle.
Image

Cutting down to the track off of Creachan Thormaid. Quinag and Ben Stack now a very familiar backdrop.
Image

A nice side on view of our by now, much earlier ascent route of Arkle.
Image

A final hop across the burn and we were back on the track. Meall Horn’s summit is quite distant, well over an hour of descent away.
Image

From there it was simply a case of following the track back downhill, through the guardian boulders, past Lone and Airdachuilinn back to the car. We arrived not long after 7.00pm. It had been a big 10 hour plus day, but it had been one of the best hill days.
On the final return leg.
Image

Image

Image
allangilly
 
Posts: 3
Munros:115   Corbetts:121
Donalds:4
Joined: May 26, 2019

Re: Arkle and Meall Horn – A Big Northwest Corbett Combo

Postby Chris Mac » Sun May 26, 2019 9:40 pm

A great report with stunning photo's of an incredible area and some amazing mountains! :clap: What a day you got for it, looks like a really good walk.

I really enjoyed that, I need to get further north.... Foinaven, Arkle, Suilven... I must climb them all!
User avatar
Chris Mac
Scrambler
 
Posts: 622
Munros:34   Corbetts:16
Grahams:7   Donalds:8
Sub 2000:45   Hewitts:3
Wainwrights:10   
Joined: Sep 11, 2014
Location: Glasgow

Re: Arkle and Meall Horn – A Big Northwest Corbett Combo

Postby Gordie12 » Tue May 28, 2019 5:16 am

That just looked like an absolutely brilliant day's walking!!!
User avatar
Gordie12
Walker
 
Posts: 1761
Munros:112   Corbetts:62
Grahams:17   Donalds:21
Sub 2000:35   Hewitts:24
Wainwrights:24   
Joined: Sep 6, 2012
Location: Nr Forfar

Re: Arkle and Meall Horn – A Big Northwest Corbett Combo

Postby EmmaKTunskeen » Wed May 29, 2019 1:22 pm

Gordie12 wrote:That just looked like an absolutely brilliant day's walking!!!


Hear hear! What gorgeous photos. :clap:
User avatar
EmmaKTunskeen
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 159
Munros:25   Corbetts:17
Grahams:9   Donalds:4
Sub 2000:2   Hewitts:41
Wainwrights:41   Islands:12
Joined: Aug 19, 2016
Location: West Sussex

Re: Arkle and Meall Horn – A Big Northwest Corbett Combo

Postby rohan » Wed May 29, 2019 5:06 pm

Superb repoprt and photographs. I had a similar day in September 2010. I have just looked back at my photos and they are remarkably similar ( same vantage spots, views etc) to yours. I always wanted to return to this fine set of hills but whilst Fionaven (on a different day) was in clag the whole way, I couldn't better the day spent on Arkle and Meall Horn. You have inspired me to return!
User avatar
rohan
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 698
Joined: Mar 12, 2012

6 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: chygeo, Eskimo, footdee33, jennygow1111, Oldertrier, RGx90 and 42 guests