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The eastern aspect of Arkle in Sutherland
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Arkle - Foinaven / Integral Traverse

Location: Above Laxford Bridge, Sutherland.

Length: 26km / 16 miles

Time: 12 hours

Difficulty: This is a very long and arduous walk, with many sections of strenuous ascent; the going is predominantly over rough and difficult terrain. Add to all this the extreme remoteness, and it will be clear that this is a very serious and demanding proposition.

 
Wooden bridge at the south end of Loch Stack
     

Seasons:

Summer conditions may be expected from June to September; winter conditions from October to May. Deer stalking may be in progress from August to October.

Geology:

The rock is predominantly white-grey quartzitecapping Lewissian gneiss. Blocky scree and bouldery ground make it very strenuous underfoot.

 
Foinaven
     

Flora and Fauna:

Golden Eagle, buzzard, snow bunting, peregrine, cormorant, greylag geese, and greenshank and also red deer and wildcat. Devil's-bit scabious, royal fern & mossy saxifrage grow in this region.

Comment:

This is a real wilderness challenge and a marvellous ridge walk with sustained interest, particularly along Fionaven's narrow undulating crest and follows a linear route.

 
Loch Dionard with Creag Staonsaid beyond
     

This walk should not be underestimated, and once you have successfully achieved the summits, the route back is long and tiring.

The landscape of these far northern climes is vastly different to any other in Britain. It has an incomparably ancient, timeless feel, of desolate vastness and openness of sky. It is a world of endless moor and loch, the distant mountains looming upwards like giants of wizened grey, heads bleached white by weather and age.

 
The Arkle-Foinaven Integral Traverse
     

Lewissian gneiss is the dominant rock, capped by quartzite on the tops. It's great longevity puts things into perspective, for it is one of the oldest rocks in the world and has stood here for some three billion years: our fleeting existence by comparison hardly registers.

The long ridge of Foinaven is most remarkable.

From the south and west its apparently rounded shoulders belie the reality, because it is in fact sensuously narrow, even knife-edged in places, requiring your constant vigilence and energy.

 
Foinaven panorama
     
Approaching via Arkle - itself a worthy prize - heightens the feeling of challenge and commitment, and the vast emptiness of this breathtaking region: the scenery is majestic Scottish wilderness at its best and this excursion is truly a walk on the wild side!
     
The summits -
   
     
Foinaven:
 
Arkle:
Creag Dionard - 778m / 2552ft
 
Sail Mor (Arkle) - 787m / 2582ft
Cadha na Beucaich Top - 808m / 2651ft
 
Arkle South Top - 758m / 2487ft
A' Cheir Ghorm - 869m / 2851ft
 
Meall Aonghais - 581m / 1906ft
Ganu Mor - 914m / 2999ft
   

Ceann Garbh - 902m / 2959ft

   

 

   

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