Did you know Scotland has its very own Alps?
Well they do! ...
The Arrochar Alps are a group of mountains located on the Cowal Peninsula in Argyll and Bute, Scotland, within the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park and in part also extend into the Argyll Forest Park. The mountains are especially popular with hillwalkers, due to their proximity and accessibility from Glasgow. The most famous is Ben Arthur, known more commonly as The Cobbler is one of the best short hikes in Scotland.
Driving through Loch Lomond, pass the village of Tarbet and head towards the village of Arrochar on the A83. You will want to park at Succoth Car Park to the west of Arrochar. Parking is £1 per hour with a max cost of £9 for the day. The car park in the summer months can get full by 10am – 11am so get there early!
The starting point of the walkway is across the road from the car park, and is not well signposted, just look out for a carving of a fox and then the path ascend the hillside, You will start the walk in the midst of a forest before gently climbing. You will be out in the open soon and cross a number of babbling streams. You will see a sign at a crossroad, you can continue straight for Beinn Ime or take the uphill track to the left to begin the ascent to The Cobbler.
The path nearing the top is straightforward to follow, if a little steeper. Turning to your right you will reach the central peak. To the left is The Needle, and if you wish to reach the true summit you will need to ‘thread the needle’ by scrambling though a hole in the rock formation onto a tight ledge, just remember there is only the same way back.
The Cobbler is 884 metres making it a ‘Corbett’ although it is not far off the height of a ‘Munro’ (mountains over 914 metres) The Cobbler gets its name due to the characteristic rocky summit which emulates the shape of a cobbler leaning over his work. Although only a Corbett, it is known as one of the most impressive summits, due to its summit features, ease of access and its amazing views from the summit.
At the summit come rain or shine you are rewarded with spectacular views across Loch Long and Loch Lomond, you will spot Ben Lomond and the other Arrochar Alps which lead up to the start of the Scottish Highlands.
You can retrace your steps back from The Cobbler or tackle a Munro, (or head this way to re-join the outward route) Nearby you have Beinn Narnain and Beinn Ime. Take the route down from the back of The Cobbler, a fairly easy descent, then the terrain flattens before climbing again. We took on Beinn Ime this time which is the highest point of the Arrochar Alps at 1011 metres.
The ascent to Beinn Ime is fairly straightforward and you can see the path to the summit ahead of you. The views from the top, again, are mighty impressive. Also, during your hikes lookout for mountain wildlife including squirrels, grouse and eagles.
We recommend starting the day for sunrise, so depending on the time of year, you could be arriving at the base for around 4am! This will make the most of your day, hopefully give you an amazing sunrise but also a crucially in the summer, let you avoid the crowds. On our descent around 11am the influx of hikers was staggering, yet we had two mountains to ourselves (apart from one person that was out sprinting, and a group of campers who were just packing away their tents in the flat areas between Beinn Ime and The Cobbler).
Being Scotland, you can never fully prepare for the weather, in any season. We recommend wearing plenty of layers and even bring a woolly hat even in summer months. Bring a backpack with water, snacks, we love having the ‘Love Corn’ snacks which are great taste and energy boost.
The route is 11km to the Cobbler and back and can take around 4-6 hours. We climbed both The Cobbler and Beinn Ime, and returned to the car in 7 hours.
Once you are back on terra firma, spend some time in the pretty village of Arrochar, and perhaps pop into a cosy pub for some local beer or warming food.
We love this part of Scotland, and thoroughly encourage you to get out and see it too, be it by climbing mountains or road tripping
Check out our other blog posts around the region