The Cobbler, also known as Ben Arthur, is one of the best short hikes in Scotland. Located amongst Munros, Scottish highest mountains (over 3000 ft high), it is an enjoyable easy walk. Summit of The Cobbler makes for a great viewpoint to surrounding hills. It is located over the shores of Loch Long and, being part of Arrochar Alps, this mountain is full of character – it provides breathtaking views, bit of a challenge and simply a good walk with unlimited photo opportunities.
The Cobbler hike fact sheet
- Height: 884 masl
- Total time: 5 hours
- Total distance: 10 km
- Parking: large car park in Succoth (charge applies). Click here for directions.
- Level of difficulty: 2-easy hillwalk, good path
- The Cobbler weather: click here to check The Cobbler weather forecast (Beinn Ime)
- Which map: OL 39 Loch Lomond North, Tyndrun, Crianlarich, Arrochar (click here to buy)
How to get to The Cobbler, aka Ben Arthur
Arrochar Alps are just a stones throw from Loch Lomond, and easily accessible by car (about 1 hour drive from Glasgow, 2 hours drive from Edinburgh). They are also easily accessible by train (nearest station Arrochar & Tarbert, 30 mins walk from trailhead). There is a regular train service from Glasgow, click here for timetable.
About The Cobbler
Ben Arthur, is one of the lowest mountains in the area, however it is not to be underestimated! The hike definitely will satisfy any kind of a walker. There are at least trails to the summit and level of difficulty can be adapted to any walker’s needs. For instance, there is a well made path with stony steps, as well as rock climbing routes on Cobbler’s eastern face. In winter the mountain can change into a frozen stronghold which brings the need for proper winter gear like crampons and ice axe. In a nutshell, The Cobbler has many faces depending on route taken and the season, so please ensure that you are prepared according to conditions.
Hiking The Cobbler
We really like this little mountain and have hiked it numerous times, found it enjoyable in any season. Our last visit to The Cobbler was in winter. Due to freezing conditions we ended up having a very interesting walk, half spring-like, half wintry.
Upon arrival to Succoth car park we were excited although one glimpse to the surrounding hills told us that the conditions high up are still pretty much winter-like. Nope, we did not expect that. Weather had been mild, snow was almost gone and only remained in highest areas of Scotland. We assumed that Arrochar Alps were clear of snow and ice and, oh dear, how wrong we were! Saying that, we were geared with microspikes and walking poles, but unfortunately we left home our crampons! However, we still decided to give it a go, tackle the mountain and see what happens. And so we did.
The forest track starts at the far end of the large car park, across the road. It is signposted to The Cobbler and Beinn Narnain and winds thru nice spruce forest. The views to Loch Long and Arrochar village don’t change for most of the way. At one point the trail crosses a wide forest track, please make sure to continue the path up rather than joining this track; there is a signpost and an arrow pointing where to go (a bit to the left). Also, there is a bench available nearby, and I love it- it’s a nice place to stop for a little break and take a photo before hiking further up.
On average it’s about 1 hour hike to the top of forest, then space opens and The Cobbler is seen in the distance, at the very end of the glen (Scottish word for ‘valley’). There is a small dam which, again, makes a good spot for a well deserved break. The glen is not exactly flat, but definitely is easier and more pleasant that the forest path. Luckily, glen flattens towards the end.
As we reached the glen, views became more interesting and exciting; The Cobbler straight ahead, and rocky slopes of its big brother, Beinn Narnain on the right.
At the glen we came across last breath of winter, wet snow covered the path, the hard grip of winter evident higher up. We did not feel discouraged, by no means.
After another 40-50mins walk we reached the foot of Ben Arthur. The views were dramatic; sharp ridges partially covered by snow reminded us why these mountains are called ‘Alps’; of course it’s a completely different scale, but still very nice and rocky, atmospheric area.
Along trail to glen end we came across massive rocks, called Narnain Boulders. And you know what? Yes, they’re another great spot for a short break!
Some 10 minutes past the boulders we found ourselves approaching the cross junction of paths. Looking ahead we saw mighty Beinn Ime, the highest of nearby mountains, and, apart from the fact that it’s the furthest of them, I would definitely say that it’s the easiest one too.
To the right was a path descending from Beinn Narnain. Finally, to the left were the stone steps to The Cobbler. To our surprise, the steps disappeared under the thick cover of snow. We were only geared with microspikes (Bea) and a walking pole (myself). It was my own fault to be so under-geared, it was me who convinced Bea we didn’t need crampons…
Anyway, slowly we tackled frozen slopes of The Cobbler. I found it quite hard to get grip at first, as the snow although very deep, was completely frozen, with a thin layer of ice, just like shiny skin. We made slow progress, after a couple of minutes we found a way to climb up rather than slide back down. There were many other walkers trying their luck up the ice, but most of them were giving up and ‘bum sliding’ down to the paths junction.
Encouraged by good progress, we cracked some jokes, like ‘it’s only necessary to have microspikes and walking poles to climb this mountains. Great, we have both, you have miscrospikes and I have a pole!
We didn’t even realise that very soon we were already half way up and approaching North Peak of Ben Arthur.
Guess what? Yes, it was a great spot for a break! Before final approach to the highest summit of The Cobbler we took a couple of minutes to have snacks and hot tea, enjoy sunshine, amazing views around and the fact that, amazingly, the wind stopped completely (which does not happen in Scotland very often!)
Happy and rested we climbed the last 200 metres to the summit. We were both really happy to have finally climbed it!
The true summit of Ben Arthur is a rock pillar (see the photo above), it’s not for faint-hearted! One needs very good head for heights to conquer it. There is a couple of metres drop which makes my legs shake. I am, however, fully satisfied without climbing this final summit rock. The summit plateau is spacious, with 360 degrees views to surrounding hills. It gave me feeling of being at the top of the world although I knew that most of surrounding mountains were much higher than The Cobbler. It did not feel like it at all!
After taking dozens of photos we were ready to call it a day and return to the car park, by retracing our steps (literally) down to the North Peak and further, to the junction of paths and the glen. This way was the fastest and safest route in the conditions given.
Alternative return routes from The Cobbler summit to the glen
There are 3 options of descent from Ben Arthur’s summit; one can either retrace their steps to the glen via stone steps, or alternatively take one of the other 2 routes of descent, both involve scrambling, therefore we recommend them for the summer walks.
First of the two alternative routes starts in the saddle between the summit and North Peak, descends steeply along the South-Eastern slopes and rejoins the main path in the glen near Narnain Boulders.
Second alternative descent route is my favourite. We definitely recommend checking it out, it’s the most interesting route (have a loot at a map below). The trail starts at the right side of the summit rock with a steep, but relatively short scramble down to Arthur’s Seat. Further, one has to follow a faint path along the ridge towards An t-Sron, it continues even further to the end of the ridge. Near the ridge end is a very faint path descending to the left, towards the small dam. This is the same dam we passed at the very beginning of the glen, while hiking up.
Both alternative routes are easy to navigate in good weather.
We took our time on the way back, there always are more photos to be taken and, most importantly, we are never in a hurry to return from a nice walk. We try to preserve the moment, it feels like a loss to end a walking day and drive back home…
The Cobbler hiking map
Wild camping near The Cobbler and campsite information
The Cobbler is located in Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, near Glasgow. This region has been extremely popular with campers for many years which led to degradation in many areas of the park. The park’s management, therefore, decided to introduce ban for wild camping, it is forbidden by law from April to October. Nearest campsites can be found in Luss, Sallochy, Millarochy Bay and Inverbeg.
What we loved about hiking The Cobbler
The Cobbler is a straight forward hike in a beautiful scenery. Trail is well made and easy to follow throughout. Depending on walker’s fitness or simply the mood, the hike can be extended to include neighbouring mountain (or two) Beinn Narnain and Beinn Ime- this makes a very adventurous and demanding day out in the hills.
*Level of difficulty explained: 1– easy walk, mostly flat 2-easy hillwalk, good path 3-moderate, possible some steep sections 4-long hillwalk, possibly some scrambling involved, possibly pathless 5-difficult, possibly pathless, long, requires technical skills