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Long Distance Walks, Hiking, Backpacking, Munro & Mountain Climbing, Camping & Adventures

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The Cobbler (Ben Arthur) (884m/2,900″), Arrochar Alps, Loch Long, Argyll and Bute, Western Scottish Highlands

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We park the car at the already heaving car park just North East along the road from Arochar. It’s a hot summer day, hence the large number of cars and large number of walkers going up Ben Arthur. Across the road and we join the tourist track up the cobbler which zig-zags up the steep lower slopes. There are some coloured markers on posts directing the less fit or quick visit tourists around some short walks around the lower slopes. The zig-zags are a bit tedious but potentially better than the old path which headed straight up the steep slope and resembled a riverbed more than a path.

Higher up we start to get some good views down Loch Long -  which is actually a fjord! We also pass a few people pushing mountian bikes up the path with the intention of a thrilling ride back down.

Over a ridge and we start to get views of the summit of the Cobbler, though it is still a fair walk away. The path ascends gently up beside the small stream of Allt a’ Bhalachain.

On nearing the rocky protrusion known as the Cobbler, the path splits in two. We take the direct path which is a hard scramble up the steep slopes directly towards the summit. The alternative path goes around the back of the Cobbler and climbs the grassy Northern slopes by means of many man-made steps – a very tedious and boring route. The direct path can get tough in places as it is mainly loose stones and rocks. We passed many tired people on this section.

We spot some rock climbers as we pass vertical rock walls to our right. The steep path comes out onto the grassy plateau where you can head up the various peaks of the Cobbler, such as the Cobbler, and the Cobblers wife. An easy climb to the cairn at the top of the cobbler.

The views from the cairn on top of the cobbler are spectacular. You can see Loch Long and Loch Lomond, and across the rest of the Arrochar Alps, which is what the mountains around Arrochar are called.

The true summit of the Cobbler is not where the cairn is. It is a rocky protrusion known as the needle, best climbed by going through the “eye of the needle” a hole through the middle of the rock, and following a narrow ledge round and up a short scramble to the top. Sounds easy enough until you factor in the 30m drop beside the narrow ledge. This is of course very dangerous and should only be attempted in good weather and at your own peril! A good head for heights is a prerequisite, along with a lot of confidence in ones own ability. It is worth remembering that people do fall to their death here every year.

We take the easier route down the Cobbler, which despite being tonnes of steps which are hard on the knees, is a lot easier than attempting to scramble down the steep slopes we came up. It also offers different views over to Ben Narnain – a Munro we have previously climbed with cloudy conditions on top. The path through the valley is quite a long slog back, but we made it quite quickly and were soon back down at the car park.

We spend our evening in and around Arrochar, buying a celebratory chippy which we eat by the shores of Loch Long. This area is spectacularly beautiful in the evening light.

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