The Cobbler is one of my favourite mountains that I have done so far. It’s both aesthetically pleasing and an enjoyable climb. I done it two years ago with Scoob, and I done it again over the weekend. This time, we done it with our dads and Natalie (Scoob’s sister) as a wee Father’s Day day out. It was a beautiful day and great experience to share with my Dad and Robert, who I also view as a father figure. Anyway, enough of the soppy stuff and into the fun hike…
Category – Corbett
Height – 884 metres (2,900 ft)
Location – Arrochar
Difficulty Rating – 8/10
Timing – 4 – 6 hours
Rating – 10/10
Ben Arthur, better known as The Cobbler, may only be a Corbett but it is one of the most impressive summits that I’ve seen. From the moment you first see it, it appears like a crown, the result of large-scale land-slipping. Most of the valley up to it is formed through glacial erosion but the summit itself is actually through land-slipping. With three impressive summits, the middle is the highest. To get to this mountain, head for Loch Lomond and A811 to Balloch. 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 road 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 take cash to pay for parking! I got a parking ticket last time, it’s the last thing you want to see after a hike.
To begin the hike, head to the Western side and there start has a large green signpost saying “Argyll Forest Park”. Follow that path for about 45 minutes as it leads you up into a valley. It’s steep at some points with plenty of twists and turns. This is by far the worst part of the walk, it sucks. Once you’ve got through the forest though, it opens up into a large valley and that’s when you first see The Cobbler up close. What a sight.
All you have to do is follow that path up to the mountain. You’ll pass by lovely little waterfalls and huge glacial erratics (rocks transported and left behind) with glacial striations (lines or grooves, scratched onto the rock from the glacier). Not every rock there is from glaciers, there are also remnants of landslips and landslides. It’s truly an amazing place, it allows you to see how the elements affect landscapes through ice, wind and rain.
As you begin to reach the mountain, you will see that the road forks. You can go either way to climb The Cobbler but I would recommend going up the left and down the right. It makes it more fun with a bit of a scramble. Nothing serious but there are points where you need your hands. Making your way up is definitely a leg burner but it’s satisfying when you turn round and see what you have accomplished for the day. The route winds up the side of the mountain and as you get closer you might see people abseiling down a rock face or two.
You’ll eventually reach the ‘saddle’. Here, you can turn right and summit the North Peak but for the highest point, turn left. It’s not long and you’ll see “The Needle” sticking out above. I’ll go into “threading The Needle” in a bit. There’s also the South Peak on the far left but you need all the proper equipment like ropes to do it.
Once you’ve rested and took in the spectacular views, it’s time to head back. Of course you could take the same way you came up but I prefer to go down the many stone steps at the back of the hill. From the saddle, you’ll see the path lead away downhill, follow that and you’ll see what I mean about many steps! It’ll take you down to a cross roads where you can continue on to do Munros such as Beinn Ime or Beinn Narnain. If, like us, you just don’t have that in your locker, turn right.
You’ll walk along the Northern side of The Cobbler and join back up with the path at the fork I spoke about earlier. From there, follow your footsteps back to the forest path. If you thought it was bad on the way up, it’s so much worse after a long hike and that’s your final hurdle. I’d have preferred to face a £1,000 fine and got a mountain rescue helicopter to get me from there. Shame I don’t have that sort of money lying around, would have been fun for a helicopter ride. It almost seemed as though it took longer to go downhill for us. Eventually we got back to the car park and it was time to head home. Another excellent day out in this lockdown.
“Threading The Needle”
To reach the highest point of the peak, you will need to “thread the needle”. You’ll need to have a head for heights, there’s a thirty metre drop. It’s not a huge gap through the pinnacle, so you need to crawl through. As you get through the gap, you’ll notice there is a ledge for you to walk along, only about a metre wide. On the other side of that ledge, is the thirty metre drop. This is where a head for heights is required! As you make your way along the ledge, you’ll come to a rock formation that you must scramble up. It can be quite difficult but if you use every means to ascend it, it should be ok. I don’t want to put you off but it’s best to remember that one wrong move and you could end up falling.
Anyway, once you make it past that, you’re up, you can get a 360 degree view of the surrounding landscape and it is beautiful. Get your hiking mate to get a photo, then head back down. I always find that to be the worst, you’re looking down to where you could fall. Just take it slow and steady, sit down and gently slide off the rock if you have to. Once you get back to the gap, you’re safe, you just need to crawl through and that’s it. Scary stuff over.
As I said at the start, The Cobbler is one of my favourite mountains. If you catch it on a clear day, it’s an unbelievable mountain to climb. From the summit, you can see all over the Arrochar Alps and beyond, even down to the Clyde! Much like Buachaille Etive Mor, there’s a wee bit of everything involved in the climb, which, in my opinion, makes it a lot more enjoyable. With it being such a nice day, I expected to see a few people but on the way down, it was the busiest I’ve ever seen a mountain! Literally every couple of minutes there was another group passing. I’m glad we went up as early as we did. I’d definitely recommend climbing The Cobbler, it’s a fantastic experience!
I had the camera out for majority of the climb and racked up over 200 photos. I’ve not attached them all but I have attached some of my better ones below. Have a wee look and let me know what you think in the comments! Would you be brave enough to “thread the needle”?
Thanks for reading,