It’s been a tough couple of weeks. About 2-3 weeks ago, I done Beinn Ime for the second time, the first time was back in December. Both times however, there was a blizzard at the summit! I understand snow in December but to get snow in May!? Anyway, the visibility was incredibly poor so we never bothered doing Beinn Narnain. Then the evening I got back from Beinn Ime, I started getting symptoms of food poisoning. That brought on two weeks of suffering. I am now fully recovered and at the weekend I had my first day out… Beinn Narnain, the last Munro of the Arrochar Alps that I had to do. Originally I was going to do it myself, none of the boys could make it, however Suzanne decided she would like to join me! I know I done them on separate trips but Beinn Narnain and Beinn Ime are best done in one go.
Beinn Narnain & Beinn Ime
Category – Munro(s)
Height – 926 metres (3,038 ft); Beinn Narnain & 1,011 metres (3,317 ft); Beinn Ime
Location – Arrochar
Difficulty Rating – 7/10
Approximate Timing – 7 – 9 hours
Pronunciation – Byn Narnyn & Byn Eem
Beinn Narnain (hill of the notches) and Beinn Ime (butter hill) are two Munros that are part of the Arrochar Alps on the Western side of Loch Lomond. These two Munros are located at Arrochar, right next to The Cobbler. To get to the starting point, head for Loch Lomond on the A811 to Balloch (You can also take the motorway to Dumbarton and head to Balloch that way). Drive right through Balloch, until you come to the round about and can join the A82. Follow the A82 for about 20 minutes until you arrive at Tarbet, then follow the A83 left towards Arrochar. Within 5 minutes you’ll be at Arrochar, on your way down the hill, you’ll see The Cobbler, high up amongst the hills.
There are 2 car parks, one on either side of the water. You can park in either of them but the closest to the path is the car park on the other side (Western side). Remember to pay for parking, there’s a card machine now. Be sure to park in a parking bay as well… I got a ticket on my first trip to the Cobbler for this (it was busy!). Anyway, a ticket is the last thing you want to see when you get down from a long hike.
There are two ways to start the trail for Beinn Narnain. Once you cross the road and reach the start of the forestry path that you would follow for The Cobbler, take an immediate right onto a narrow trail through the trees. This is a more direct route but it’s a harder climb up through the forest. After a short while, you reach an access road that you can follow left and re-join the forestry path. It was a scorcher of a morning and the trees seemed to trap in the heat so we opted for the more open route and followed the forestry path. You don’t have to take this route though, you’ll notice the narrow trail continues on the other side of the path. Anyway, after about 50 minutes, we reached the valley opening.
Follow that path for 5-10 minutes and you’ll notice a small sort of dam appearing on the left. Just before it, there’s a narrow trail that leads right and cuts across the hillside to re-join the other Beinn Narnain trail. This part of the trail can be a little boggy and at some points you can lose the path but keep heading straight and it reappears.
Once you re-join the path, you’ll notice the stone stairs leading the way up. It’s tough going but as climb higher, you can look back and get a spectacular view over to Ben Lomond. The steps zig zag up the hillside and eventually you’ll come to a section that requires a bit of scrambling. Nothing severe or physically challenging. Once you get past that, you’ll reach the first of a couple false summits. This is when you realise why Beinn Narnain translates to ‘hill of the notches’! The path flattens out and becomes a little boggy for a brief spell before another steep incline. You’ll reach another false summit with the path dipping slightly before the final part of the ascent. There’s a bit more scrambling involved here. Again, nothing severe, just you need to use your hands and knees a bit. Follow the path to the right of the rock buttress of the spearhead. There’s one final push through a rock filled gully and a great photo opportunity at the top of the spearhead. After that, there’s an clear and easy path to the trig point marking the summit of Beinn Narnain.
Once you’ve taken your summit photo and had a wee refreshment, it’s time to begin the descent into the valley before tackling Beinn Ime. You’ll have a great view of the Cobbler to the left and you’ll see Beinn Ime straight ahead with a straight forward path leading up. You’ll have to navigate over a few large rocks but the path soon becomes relatively easy to follow when you reach the steps. It’ll only take you around 30-40 minutes to descend onto the bealach. You’ll notice the path then splits left or right. Take the right for Beinn Ime.
Despite Beinn Ime being the highest of the Arrochar Alps, I found it to be one of the easiest. There’s not much to say about this ascent, from the Bealach took us around 1.5 hours last time which isn’t too bad. The path is pretty straight forward. As you ascend higher, you’ll come to a false summit. Follow the path around to the left and continue on, you’ll reach the true summit shortly after. For the descent, just follow the way you came. The first time we had done Beinn Ime, it had been snowing and there was a fair bit of snow lying. We nearly lost the track at the false summit but luckily managed to find our tracks!
Once you have descended back down to the bealach, follow the path passed where you would have came from coming down from Beinn Narnain. The path will curve to the left and lead you between Narnain and The Cobbler. If you’re feeling brave and energetic, you can follow an inclining path to the right and go up the back way of The Cobbler. If not, just continue along the valley, slowly declining as you go. You’ll pass by two huge boulders, affectionately known as the “Narnain Boulders” that had been deposited there by a glacier. You might notice markings all over these huge boulders which are the glacial striations (lines or grooves, scratched onto the rock from the glacier).
You’ll eventually arrive at the little trail that you took to cut across the hillside (if you came up the forestry path way). If you took the direct route up, just follow the path down to the forest. It’ll zig zag it’s way down through the forest. It took us about 45 minutes to get back down, you would think the descent is quicker than the ascent but for some reason it’s just not the case here. Once you reach the road, that’s you. Two Munros to check off the list! Well done.
I thoroughly enjoyed the hike up Beinn Narnain… well after the forestry bit anyway. I absolutely hate that. Other than that though, it’s a fairly enjoyable hike. The added scrambling and photo opportunities on rocks gives it a wee bit more for me. I know I done Beinn Ime on a different day but I found it to be a pretty easy going walk. Bad weather prevented me from really experiencing the best of it. I’m absolutely delighted to have now finished all of the Arrochar Alps and I can now set my sights on another group of hills. I’m thinking the Crianlarich ones next, I’ve already done Ben More & Stob Binnein so only 5 more to go there!
As usual, there’s photos below of the hike up Beinn Narnain. Have a wee look through, let me know what you think! If you’re going on an adventure of some sort and want someone to capture moments along the way, please check out my portfolio and get in touch! I’m aiming to take bookings this year for anyone who is interested.
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