Our blog - Far North, Jun'18

A blog of our mountain adventures in Scotland, hiking, biking, rock-scrambling and more !

Peaks in the Far North

4-6 June 2018
Hiking in the Far North of Scotland, bagging Quinag, Foinaven, Arkle, Conival and Ben More Assynt. Steven Fallon was leading....

Day 1 - Quinag

The Far North of Scotland has some splendid peaks, and some of the best are not necessarily the highest ! Myself and Sean had hatched a plan to take in some of these over 3 days in early June, with Quinag, Arkle and Foinaven being top of the list.

The initial plan for the first day was Foinaven and Arkle. However, the clag was down and the air was still - the thought of a long approach walk through clouds of midgies didn't appeal, so we swapped our first two days around and headed for Quinag. This mountain has several peaks, 3 of which are Corbetts and the route starts from around 250m above sea-level, so we should be above the cloud quite quickly.

A pleasant walk took us to the lower slopes of Sail Gharbh, followed by a steep hike uphill and through the cloud. Wow, the views above an inversion were stunning - Spidean Coinich, Suilven and Conival were islands in a vast sea-scape of mist under blue skies. Gradually the inversion disappated, exposing the crests of Quinag to the sun. We hiked leisurely over to Sail Ghorm and returned over Spidean Coinich back to the car-park, feeling slightly sun-baked and well satisfied with our day out.



Day 2 - Foinaven and Arkle

We met bright and early by Lochstack Lodge at the northern end of Loch Stack, sun shining and warmth in the air. Today's targets of Foinaven and Arkle require a good day of hiking at a reasonably well-paced hiking to complete in around 10 hours or so - we were both up for this ! Foinaven first, which was approached using the fine stalker's ATV track heading around Arkle. Foinaven gradually appears ahead, looking quite imprenitable, but I knew of a good route up - a steep scree run. This route looks vertical from below, but the nearer we got to it, the more accessible it became and before long, we had hiked up on the the crest at Cadha na Beucaich. A bit of scrambling, some boulder hoping and some sections of path, and we were on the summit, chatting with a couple of other hikers (Weasel Monster on Walk Highlands !).

There was the option of adding Meall Horn into the day, but decided to give this a miss and aim for Arkle next. So retracing our steps took us back down the scree run to cross a river between the lochans below. Up Arkle is steep, with scree on most of the north-facing slopes, but there is a grassy route (for the most part) that can be found, which we took, and we were up on the summit in good time. Stunning views all around.

Over the minor summit (758m spot height), then following the course of the burn heading down the south-east side, which was completely dried up for the first 250m drop due to the sustained dry weather of late. Down to the track, we were fortunate to be offered a lift for the final 2km on tarmac, saving our now tiring legs.

Day 3 - Convial and Ben More Assynt

Our final day together saw us a little further south, aiming for two Munro summits. Another hot day, so sunhats and sunscreen on ! We followed the River Traligill up Gleann Dubh and up to the col north of Conival. Boulder hopping took us to the summit and time to relax and take in the views - we didn't feel pushed like yesterday. Over to Ben More Assynt, quartzite scree glistening in the sun, we gave both summit cairns a wee touch. The return route was a retrace of our steps. The river was low and at one point it fell silent - we'd found the point where the river disappears into a cave at low levels and the other point where it comes back out of the rock - I was ecstatic as it was many years since I'd seen this. Back to the cars and time for goodbyes - Sean was heading for Suilven and Skye over the next few days.



A great few days on stunning mountain ranges in good company and sunny weather !

More photos by Steven Fallon are here on Flickr.



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