Walk up Beinn Narnain and Ben Arthur (The Cobbler)
Route Summary: .An easily accessible Munro and the dramatic Ben Arthur are the objectives of this superb walk from Arrochar
.An easily accessible Munro and the dramatic Ben Arthur are the objectives of this superb walk from Arrochar
|11.71 km||1288 m||5 hours|
Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.
Start and Finish: Succoth
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Walk up Beinn Narnain and Ben Arthur (The Cobbler) Route Map and GPX Download
Summits and Places on this Route
Walk up Beinn Narnain and Ben Arthur (The Cobbler) Details
Beinn Narnain is often one of the first Munros to be attempted by would-be peak baggers, thanks to its location on Loch Long. It is one of the most southerly of the Munros and one of the most accessible, having a car park at its base in the village of Succoth.
While Beinn Narnain is a fine mountain with a bit of rocky character, it is probably the only Munro that is completely outshone by its lower neighbour, which doesn’t even reach Munro status. This may seem odd, however it’s neighbour, Ben Arthur (Artair), or The Cobbler, is one of the most distinctive mountains in the UK.
This walk tackles Beinn Narnain directly before visiting the Ben Arthur and gives you the opportunity to ‘thread the needle’ on Ben Arthur’s summit. The highlight of the walk – the incredible view of Ben Arthur from the Narnain Boulders, is saved until the very end.
Walk up Beinn Narnain and Ben Arthur (The Cobbler) Route Description
1 – Parking for this walk can be found alongside the main road around the head of Loch Long between Arrochar and Succoth. In our experience, while there are a number of spaces in the car parks they do fill up thanks to the popularity of the Cobbler so arrive early to avoid disappointment.
2 – From either of the car parks, turn left along the A83 and follow it a short distance to find a track which leads away from the road into the Argyll Forest Park. After a few metres, keep an eye out for a path on the right leading into the woods. This is the route to Beinn Narnain.
3 – The path climbs the slopes directly, following a line of concrete blocks. These blocks once supported a cable railway which was used during the construction of a dam high up on Allt Suggach.
4 – The climb is pretty relentless – bearing in mind you’re climbing from sea level. There are a few interesting sections during the climb including some mild scrambling on Creag an Fhithich. The climb will reach the minor summit of Cruach nam Miseag.
5 – After crossing Cruach nam Miseag, things start to get a little bit more interesting. Up ahead is the Spearhead, a 20m craggy wall caused by an ancient rock-slope failure. Upon first inspection it seems impassable, however, keep to the path and you will find it picks its way through the rocks to reach a gully to the right of the Spearhead. Head up the gully – it is steep but it resists becoming a full scramble.
6 – The gully emerges on top of Beinn Narnain’s flat summit where there is a trig pillar. The rewards for your climb are fine views of the neighbouring Arrochar Alps including Beinn Ime and Ben Vane. Ben Ime can be added as an option for this walk but requires a considerable amount of re-ascent.
7 – Begin your descent towards Bealach a’ Mhaim by heading northwest from Beinn Narnain’s summit. A path descends the grassy north western ridge of the mountain, becoming increasingly boggy towards the bottom. In poor weather good navigation will be required at the bealach as the paths become lost among the boggy ground.
8 – From the bealach, head south to the head of Coire a’ Bhalachain. You will find one of the paths ascending Ben Arthur starts from here. You will also probably find a lot more people hanging around.
9 – Steps guide you up the first section of Ben Arthur before becoming a more eroded path. The path climbs to a point between the North Top and the middle peak. A brief diversion to the North Top is highly recommended though the middle peak is the highest.
10 – While most will be content reaching the main top of Ben Arthur, the adventurous (or pedantic) will want to summit the mountain proper, which is challenging prospect. The true summit of the mountain can only be reached through an elaborate means of squeezing and and scrambling, requiring a good head for heights. Let us explain.
11 – The true summit of Ben Arthur stands atop a tall pinnacle of rock. To reach the top first requires finding a triangular hole in the base of the pinnacle (the needle). Passing through the hole leads to 1m wide, slanted ledge on the other side of the rock formation. This is called ‘threading the needle’. Once on the other side, the ledge must be traversed before a tricky scramble to the summit. The ledge stands above a 30m sheer face and is tilted away from the rock face so becomes dangerously slippery when wet. The route of ascent is also the easiest route for descent.
12 – Having threaded the needle or not, return to the col between the middle peak and North Top and begin descending the rock steps to the south. This route will weave among the fallen boulders and beneath the impressive overhang of the North Top.
13 – From here, the path is clear as it follows the valley down. Make sure you take a look back at the dramatic profile of Ben Arthur as you make your descent. Apparently the three outcrops give the impression of a cobbler working at their bench, hence its nickname.
14 – The descent makes a long, zig-zagging route through the woods on a well engineered track. This will ultimately lead you back to the point where you started climbing Beinn Narnain earlier in the day. Cross the road to reach the car park.