Ben Stack, at 2,365ft or 721m, is a wonderfully pointy little mountain when seen from the north-west or from the south-east. Its structure is complex and interesting, oddly reminiscent of a Norman castle.
The start of the walk is at a reasonable parking area a hundred metres east along the private road towards Lone from its junction with the A838 a short distance north of Achfary. This is also a starting point for the climb of Arkle, and on our last trip we were offered but sadly declined a lift in a Land Rover to Arkle's foot, before heading off in the opposite direction.
By far the most challenging part of the climb up Ben Stack is formed by the first, flat, few hundred metres between the A838 and the point at which you start to ascend. This looks pathless in ascent, and is exceptionally wet and boggy.
But this is soon behind you and you can then follow the reasonable path up the main body of the mountain, or range freely and be guided by the line of rocky outcrops running up its spine. These are visible from a considerable distance away: the photo above left shows Ben Stack from the south-east towering over Achfary. The grey line running up the mountain is the outcrop.
It is only later that the likeness to a Norman castle becomes more clear: for having surmounted the main body of the mountain you find yourself on a rocky plateau. Looking ahead across a marked narrowing you are faced with the very steep grassy cone leading upwards to the keep-like summit. This is a hard pull to end the climb with, but at least this castle has no defenders pouring scorn, derision and hot oil on you as you make your way up the slope.
And the summit itself has surprises in store. The summit ridge is cleft in two, giving two parallel ridges and a choice of possible highest points: though it is no great hardship to visit them both to gain alternative perspectives on the stunning views that stretch out in every direction. North lays Arkle with Foinaven beyond: while to the south Quinag features prominently. The final oddity on the summit is a cairn with its own omnidirectional radio antenna....
A great little mountain that is easily overlooked both because of its size and because it lies a little east of the main coast route. But it's a gem, and not to be missed. On your route back down you'll probably find the path much easier to follow than it had been on the climb. This does lessen your exposure to the boggy ground at the bottom, but there's no way of avoiding it altogether.
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Ben Stack is 2,365ft or 721m high. The route described here is some 5 miles or 8km long in total, and you climb all but a small part of Ben Stack's height.
Grid Ref: NC 270 473