All clear to Cape Wrath

Arkle, from the Norse 'ark fjell' meaning flat topped, is a mountain I have wanted to return to for some time and though I had not been to the summit, having walked the lower boulder strewn slopes once before, I was under little illusion about the nature of the route I intended to run. The summit is certainly broad and flat, and while the slopes beneath are not as steep as some, real concentration is required to maintain any kind of pace on either ascent or descent.
The usual approach starts beside Loch Stack, the broad western flank of Arkle dominating the view, quartzite crags plunging to the steep screes below.
A rough track then climbs steadily towards the col between Arkle and Meall Horn from which there are wonderful views across Fionaven whose Munro status was lost following a survey in 2007, ending years of inconsequential debate - those who feel they have done something of lesser worth on reaching the summit of either Arkle or Fionaven (both Corbetts) should perhaps reconsider their stance.
Beyond that, there is little in the way of paths of any sort and some heather bashing is required to reach the rubble above - broken by superb slabs which ease progress until one is forced to negotiate the quartzite boulders.
Such is the nature of Arkle - glistening stone amongst which there are splashes of colour...
...high and lonely lochans overshadowed by towering cliffs and deep gullies, it is a raw, uncompromising landscape.
On the final approach to the summit, a level causeway precedes the last short climb after which the view north is clear to Cape Wrath. I spent longer than I should have on the top, sat in the small hollow beneath the summit cairn, soaking in the sun and long views to the Summer Isles, across the mountains of Coigach and Assynt and to the north, the surf at Sandwood Bay clearly visible even from here.
The descent proved quicker than I thought it might, though I cut a large corner, descending a dry gully and thereby bypassing the worst of the rock hopping to rejoin the track above Loch Stack shortly before it drops through the pines. Trout darted in the streams I crossed and a cuckoo called as I retraced my steps along the loch to finish a route out of all proportion to its size. 
Back at sea level, looking across the head of Loch Laxford towards Fionaven (left) and Arkle (right). There never was any doubt about Arkle's status as a Munro, measuring a mere 787m - indeed it is only just a Corbett - but it remains one of the finest summits in the far north-west.

Comments

Allison Simpson said…
One of my most memorable walk is Fionaven and Arkle. We left the car at Loch Stack and cycled to Clach a Bhoineid then walked across the boggy moor an up Claise na Claise Carnaich up onto Fionaven and alomg it's amazing ridge dropping into Bealach Horn and up onto Arkle.
Light was beginning to fade as we took a b line straigh off the top to the path by Loch Airigh a Bhaird and back to the car. Rain was beginning to fall as we collected the bike and loaded them into the car.
We had a weather window late April some years ago and graspt the day. Travel light travel far ...