Walk 14 – Arrochar loop – 10 miles

  • Not suitable for buggy
  • Parking is at Succoth car park G83 8EG (pay & display)
  • Rugged terrain: hiking boots and winter hiking equipment needed if doing this walk in winter months.

21st February 2016

A loop starting from and returning to Succoth car park. Uphill for the first part along the path to The Cobbler but then veering off towards the bealach between The Cobbler and Ben Ime and down to the forest.

I did this walk with my former colleague and now friend Gleb W on a rainy day in February. It was only our second walk together and quite a step up from our first which was a flat walk along the Kelvin Walkway a few months prior! It was also to be my first hill walk in years so I was slightly nervous about my fitness levels and how I would fare. It is not a walk I would have attempted alone because I don’t have good enough navigation skills, but I knew Gleb had lots of experience and knew this area well, having completed the same route a few weeks earlier. I trusted him to get us back safe!

As the day progressed it got me thinking about how being out in conditions like this really shows you a person’s true nature. Gleb is such a selfless and caring walking partner: he knew that my fitness levels were not the same as his own and that I didn’t have any recent hiking experience in the hills so he let me set the pace, asked regularly if I wanted to stop for a break,  and he even went without gaiters to let me use his (I had left mine in the car!) and offered me his crampons on a steep downhill section. I respect him so much for all of those things! He also helped me out a few times later on in the day when my fingers seized up due to the cold making it impossible for me to do/undo zips on my jacket and rucksack, get my gloves on and off, open a protein bar etc. I felt I was probably a bit of burden at times but Gleb didn’t make me feel that way at all.

As well as the rain falling (ALL day!), there was a lot of water underfoot and despite being prepared with full waterproofs we were both soaked by the end of the day. I went through 2 pairs of gloves – do you get such a thing as waterproof gloves??? My ski gloves kept my hands cosy until the point they were soaked through and then they were no use. The further up we hiked, the rain turned to snow and there was significant snowfall (at some points my footprints were knee deep). Visibility was pretty poor at times and Gleb was using his Ordnance Survey mobile phone app to keep us on track. I definitely want to do a navigation skills course at some point in the near future. It is an essential skill in the Scottish hills in my opinion. Fear of being unable to safely get myself off a mountain is something I recognise as holding me back in getting into the hills more often. I want to one day take my family with me: how can I do that if I can’t navigate?! Simple: I can’t.

“You know you are pretty stubborn” is how I was described after refusing every opportunity given to me that day to take a break haha. Mainly this was because it was just far too cold, wet and windy to stop for any length of time but it was probably also me wanting to prove something to myself about my abilities. Well on the way down my body responded by giving me cramp in my right thigh; it’s way of telling me I hadn’t hydrated or eaten enough over the last 6 hours. I was grateful for my childhood hiking days teaching me that I needed water and salt so the cramp was gone a few minutes later.

I was absolutely buzzing at all points before, during and after this walk! It had been so long since I had been in the hills I was super excited to jump in the car and drive along Loch Lomond to Arrochar. Even a weather forecast for heavy rain all day could not dampen my spirits! During the hike I was in my element the entire time. I have such a respect for the Scottish hills, I know their dangers and appreciate their beauty. When I am up there I feel free and alive! I was physically and mentally exhausted by the end of the day, I wished I didn’t have the hour and a half drive home and my body was aching for 2 days afterwards.But do you know what? I would do it all again tomorrow!

Route: Take ‘The Cobbler’ path uphill from Succoth car park and follow it uphill alongside the river. At the top of the river you reach a bealach between Ben Arthur (The Cobbler) and Ben Ime. Cross the bealach and head steeply downhill to the forest below, joining the forest track which takes you all the way back down to the car park.

Click here for a map of the route.

(Sorry for the lack of photographs – it was too cold to stop!)


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