A circular route in the Arrochar Alps taking in the north peak of the iconic Ben Arthur, better known as The Cobbler (884 m / 2900 ft) followed by Ben Narnain (926 m / 3038 ft). A gentle start quickly becomes steep and challenging with lots of rocky outcrops. Will you be brave enough to go through “the eye of the needle”?? There is a good footpath the entire way although be prepared for very boggy conditions between the two mountains and on the lower slopes of Narnain. The descent from Narnain is very challenging in particular the steep gully known as The Spearhead. The final section follows the old tramline to connect with the forestry road into Arrochar.
Car parking available at Succoth Car Park just off A83 in Arrochar (G83 8EG). Please note there is a charge to use it.
Click HERE to view or follow a map of the route
Purchase the OS map for the area HERE
8th January 2017
As seems to be becoming habitual for my hikes in the Arrochar Alps, the forecast for today was low cloud and light rain. The plan was to do the Cobbler then hop across to Ben Narnain and then loop back down to Succoth car park. I had hoped that things would be better on arrival but in fact add mist to the above list and you have an idea of what awaited me after the hour drive through. No stunning views of the Cobbler to be had, nor indeed of anything at all…… but what’s new there?! Every cloud has a silver lining however, and I know that all of these walks I spend enveloped in cloud is going to make me all the more grateful when I do eventually get a view from the top of a Munro. Which WILL happen…. at some point this year….. I hope!
Despite my slightly tardy arrival we set off nice and early at 8:25am to make the most of the daylight hours. The going started off easy, past the Narnain Boulders and then taking a left at a fork in the path to head towards The Cobbler. Here we were astonished to find midges lurking in the air! MIDGES…. in JANUARY!!! What is going on?! I had a sudden flashback to me packing my rucksack the night before and chuckling when I saw the Smidge, tossing it aside saying “Definitely wont be needing that!” To be fair we didn’t as we were through the swarm before any of them could notice our arrival, but it did give me a gentle reminder of the fact that you really can’t ever predict what conditions you will come across on the Scottish hills!
From here the adventure began! Steep, rocky, spectacular! Out of the mist and straight into the clouds we went. We were just able to make out a vague outline of The Cobbler’s iconic shape, so dramatic in this weather. It’s on these steep sections that it becomes obvious how much more stamina the guys have than me. The path was like a set of vertical giant steps. The muscles in my thighs ached and my heart was beating so hard I could hear it! Stopping for a breather every few minutes helped. When we got to the top of that section I took a dizzy spell so a wee seat and quick chocolate fix was required. I was soon up and moving again and felt on top form the rest of the day 🙂
No attempt was made by any of us to go through the eye of the needle, although some did go over for a closer look. Another day! Ben Narnain was our next port of call. Through a temporary clearing in the cloud we could make out the bus load of people who were also making their way to the top. We managed to pass them and after a brief pause at the top we were delighted not to meet another soul the entire way down 🙂 Speaking of the way down….. Jeezo! We hadn’t expected anything like this. Immediately after leaving the summit we were greeted by “The Spearhead” followed by an arduous descent through extremely slippery rocky ground. There was really no let up until we reached the forestry track which zigzags it’s way down into Arrochar. I was grateful for the fact that where I lack the stamina for uphill stretches, I really enjoy going back down, even on this steep ground. Other members of the group are not so keen on this part, which I like to think keeps us even 😉
We regrouped in the car park, soaking wet but in complete agreement about what a fantastic day we had just experienced. I will always think back fondly to that flask of tomato soup I enjoyed halfway up Narnain, sitting silently on my fold-out mat in the pouring rain in complete peace. The flask is definitely going to be a regular part of my kit from now on! Oh and Munro # 4….. TICK 😀