Arrochar & Tarbet

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 Argyll & Bute, Scotland

 

 

The Cobbler (better know as Ben Arthur)

Altitude  884 metres, Grid Ref NN25920586


Picture of the valley between Ben Arthur and Ben NarnairnThe Cobbler, or Ben Arthur to use the correct name is just short of a Munro but is still one of Scotland's most spectacular mountains due to the unusual skyline and fabulous views. The Cobbler is one of a group of mountains known as 'The Arrochar Alps' and was the happy hunting ground of many of Scotland's early climbers and climbing clubs. The Cobbler is a serious climb and should not be taken lightly, especially in winter or conditions of poor visibility as a few steps in the wrong direction near the top can lead to fatal falls on the precipitous walls.

Although not a Munro, The Cobbler is a hill not to be missed. Its magnificent shape can be seen clearly on the skyline, and its final peak is not one for the faint hearted. Located close to Glasgow (only an hour further north, by road or rail) its magnificent shape can be seen clearly on the skyline as you approach the start of the walk.

Starting at the car park cross over the road and take the new path which zig zag's up the slope and joins the old path at 1,100ft. At about 1,050ft a level track is encountered and turn left to have a welcomed rest on a fairly level walk southwards for nearly a mile with great views to the south and Loch Long.

Eventually the track turns right and the Cobbler with its three summits becomes clearly visible. Pass a huge tilted boulder and take a left fork at the track - this is very steep but leads to the foot of the rocky scramble to the summit ridge. Follow the track to the right and this leads to the Cobblers head. Care is required at the summit.

To access The Cobbler by Road: From the south follow the A82 (T) north along the banks of Loch Lomond (from the north follow the same road south) to reach Tarbet. Turn westwards, on the A83 (T), towards Arrochar. Pass through Arrochar, passing the parking area at the very tip.

Some excellent rock routes  for the adventurous are to be found around the summit.

Walking Up The Cobbler from Arrochar

The old path soon deteriorates into a very badly eroded track which essentially follows the bed of a hill burn straight up the slope through 'clearfell' and crossing a forest track to just over 400 feet. Careful as you look for the way as you cross the forest track - it doesn't look like a track - more like the bed of a burn. The path is steep and tiring but quicklt attains height to provide some excellent views down Loch Long to the south and over Arrochar to Ben Lomond to the east.

At about 1050 feet a  level track is encountered - turn left here to take a welcome rest on a fairly level walk southwards for nearly a mile with great views to the south along Loch long..

Eventually the track turns right and the Cobbler with its three summits becomes clearly visible.

Following the clearly defined track, now facing north-west and occasionally rough paved, a small reservoir on the left is tempting on a hot day as are a series of photogenic waterfalls a little further upstream.

cobbler4.JPG (67369 bytes)The three peaks are now clearly visible with the figure of the 'crooked shoe maker' - the Cobbler, clearly distinguishable on the right hand peak. Pass a huge tilted boulder - often used as a shelter by animals (and walkers) and in a short time the track forks. Take the left fork to tackle another steepening track - very hard going when wet - which leads to the foot of the rocky scramble of two or three hundred feet to the lowest part of the summit ridge.
As you scramble up this part, take a look up at the immense rock looming above you - you may see a party of rock climbers tackling the huge, very challenging, overhang.

Now on the summit ridge, follow the track - or one of the many tracks to the right which lead to the top of the Cobbler's head. The last part of this entails a scramble up some polished slabs which are tricky and treacherous when wet.
Care is required on the summit as the south and east facing sides are precipitous and unexpected in poor visibility.

The summit of The Cobbleer

Views to the south open up to Loch Long, Gareloch, the Firth of Clyde, Bute, Arran and the Atlantic beyond. To the east are views over Arrochar to Loch Lomond, Ben Lomond and as far as the Lake of Menteith in the hazy distance. Views to the north take in a huge swath of the highlands with many well known peaks identifiable with the help of map & compass. The view to the west is still obscured by the outline of the centre peak with its difficult access through the eye of the needle.

Head back down to the ridge and west towards the centre peak. This peak is usually crowded on a good day by an 'audience' waiting to watch those daring enough to tackle the 'eye '.

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To access this centre peak, the walker has to pass through a small opening in the rock which leads to a narrow ledge facing a 150 ft vertigo inspiring drop. Once on the ledge an awkward sloping ramp leads to a final step onto the flat summit rock - on which few choose to stand upright.
Many never attain the centre peak because of this final obstacle. cobbler-lomond-best.JPG (68762 bytes)

Views to the west open up here which on a clear day can reveal the isles of Jura, Islay and the Atlantic.

You can now follow the track below the 'eye' to the third peak - worth while but not quite as spectacular as those already visited.

Descend either by re-tracing your route, or by turning north west from the ridge as you approach the east peak and descending via a circuitous, less rocky but rather wet path round the base of the east peak then south east between Cobbler and Bein Narnain to rejoin the original track at the fork.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The summit rocks, with Ben Lomond disappearing into the
           cloud in the distance.
The summit rocks, with Ben Lomond disappearing into the cloud in the distance.

 

The Central Summit again.
The Central Summit again.

Picture of the summit of Ben Arthur
North the view over the Arrochar Alps was impressive with Beinn Ime, Ben Vane and Beinn Narnain lining up around The Cobbler.
Picture of the view north from Ben Arthur
 

 

Here's a video from YouTube:-

John Cunningham and Creagh Dhu climbing The Cobbler in 1978. John is on Recess Route, climbing a summer route in snowy conditions. Taken from the BBC Scotland TV series 'Mountain Days', full credits are on the video.
 

 

 

Click here to view an old cine movie filmed by Ben Humble showing Jock Nimlin climbing the Cobbler.

 

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