Foinaven and Arkle

Foinaven and its neighbour Arkle are amongst Scotland’s finest and most starkly beautiful mountains. Foinaven is one of the highest Corbetts – it has several tops but its highest, Ganu Mor, is just short of Munro status at 911 metres or 2989 feet. Foinaven’s complex north eastern crags and corries have many rock and ice climbs. Arkle, also a Corbett, is lower at 787 metres and is joined to its larger neighbour by a dipping and sweeping swath of quartzite across Bealach Horn (513m) and Bealach an Easaine Uaine (395m), and is a great hill in its own right. The mountains lie to the east of the A838 road that connects the villages of Rhiconich and Durness, either of which would be ideal bases for exploring the area. You can search for accommodation here.

Foinaven and Arkle lie at the north end of the Reay Forest range of hills between the River Laxford to the south and Strath Dionard to the north. The peaks are formed from shattered Cambrian quartzite; some of which is Pipe Rock containing the fossilised burrows of worm like creatures, lying on top of the surrounding ancient Lewisian gneiss basement rocks – the British Isles oldest.

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Foinaven and Arkle

Table of Foinaven and Arkle summit details

DoBIHIDMountainHeightClassificationImage 1Image 2Image 3
1124Foinaven911m/2989ftCorbettContext ImageDetail ImageSummit Image
1129Arkle787m/2582ftCorbettContext ImageDetail ImageSummit Image

Explore Foinaven and Arkle with the interactive map of the mountains, photos and indicative routes below. Click on a feature to see photos and more information; see a legend by toggling the side panel and switch layers on and off. View a larger map here. Please let me know what you think!

Interactive map of Foinaven and Arkle including the Corbett summit and photos

Important note: Routes on this map are provided as an indication only in good faith. They are approximate and indicative and should not be relied on for navigation or as a guarantee that any specific person will be capable of completing them. Read more

Please note: This page is in development but in the meantime I hope you enjoy the selection of photos. Please check back for more photos, and route information.

Climbing Foinaven from the north (near Gualin House)

Gualin House lies at the high point of the A838 (NC500) road between Rhiconich and Durness. There is a small parking area a little north and downhill from the house, or several possible small pull offs from the road to the south west in the Rhiconich direction. Starting from this area there are two main options for approaching Foinaven: either a slog over several kilometres of boggy, pathless ground to reach the base of the north west ridge of Ceann Garbh; or a longer approach via the track down into and along Strath Dionard. I’d recommend the Strath Dionard approach as you get to see the fine north eastern crags and corries of the mountain as well as the strath itself. An approach by bike along the track is a good option – though the final steep cycle back up the hill to the road is a challenge! From Strath Dionard there are a plethora of possible routes on to the peaks of Foinaven with a range of technical difficulties.

The most common may be to head into Coire Duail and then up hill to the north west to the foot of Ceann Garbh’s north east ridge, which leads steeply to Foinaven’s most northerly top. Alternatively take to the eastern flank of Cnoc a’ Mhadaidh to get on to higher ground earlier before Ceann Garbh. From Ceann Garbh it is an easy kilometre walk round the rim of Glas-Choire Granda to the summit of Foinaven’s highest peak, Ganu Mor.

To return to the road from Ganu Mor all options involve steep pathless ground. You might want to return to Ceann Garbh and descend its north west ridge to the bog below; or descend to Strath Dionard, perhaps by Ganu Mor’s north east and then lower easterly ridge and pass over or south of Cnoc Duail (it is also possible to drop back in to Glas-Choire Granda or Coire Duail with care at certain locations). Alternatively a descent of the south face of Ganu Mor can be made direct in to Braigh a’ Choire Leacaich for a 3.5 kilometres walk out to the Strath Dionard track.

But, from Ganu Mor it would be a shame not to continue along the lovely atmospheric winding ridge to the south to the nameless top at 869m if time and energy allow. This nameless top is a wonderful viewpoint giving a lovely perspective along the sharp length of A’ Cheir Ghorm and over the moors to Ben Hope and across the Flow Country to the east.

Climbing Arkle and Foinaven from Loch Stack to the South via Lone

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