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The Cobbler Walk

Length: 5.5 miles (4 hours)
Start: Arrochar (car park at West House)

The 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 (2946 ft) 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.

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

The Route

Commences at the car park to the west of Arrochar, not the one near the filling station, but the next one heading west near the old torpedo pier. The access to the Cobbler is on the opposite side of the road.

The new 'biking' path zig-zags up the slope to join the old path at about 1100 ft. If you want to avoid the zig-zags you can use the old track which can be seen on the right near the start of the new path. 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 quick. lt 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 levelish 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.

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.

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'.

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.

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.