The Cobbler

The Cobbler (Scottish Gaelic: Beinn Artair) is a mountain of 884 m height located near the head of Loch Long in Scotland. It is a Corbett. Although the Ordnance Survey title this peak as Ben Arthur, the name The Cobbler (which the OS mark as an alternative name) is almost universally used by hillwalkers, mountaineers and the local populace.

The mountain is the most spectacular, although by no means the highest of the so-called Arrochar Alps, due to its distinctive, large rocky summit features which are supposed to represent a cobbler bending over his last. The features are visible many miles away from the mountain.

Despite the mountain falling short of Munro height, due to its summit features, ease of access, and excellent summit views, it is one of the most popular mountains in Scotland.

The most common route starts from the village of Succoth, at the head of the loch. Originally, the route first headed directly up the hillside, following the remains of an old tramway built as part of a water collection scheme. A newly constructed path has now been built, by-passing the tramway and zig-zagging up the hillside to give a more gentle ascent through an area of forestry. This path meets up with the old tramway path, and from there continues, following a burn known as the Allt a'Bhalachain. From here the path bypasses the Narnain Boulders, and at around 600 m (2000 ft), steepens; gaining the summit requires an element of scrambling. Nearer the top the path flattens out at a bealach, which is marked by a cairn. Several peaks may be accessed from this point.

The Cobbler has three distinctive summits; the middle one is the highest. The top is crowned by a rocky outcrop that marks the true summit. A very good head for heights is required to attain the true summit, which can best be reached by crawling through a hole in the summit rock formation from the north side to the south. This leads to a ledge around one metre wide, with a sheer drop of well over 100 ft on one side. The ledge is steeply inclined, and some scrambling ability is necessary to negotiate it and eventually gain the summit. Using this route is known as "threading the needle". The easiest descent is by the same route - however this is more difficult and extreme care must be taken especially when descending the final part of the ledge.

Beside the route described above, the summits may also be reached starting from the A83 Rest-and-be-Thankful road through Glen Croe to the west; by following the rocky south-eastern ridge up from Loch Long; or from the Bealach a' Mhàim. This bealach, at 640 m, allows for Ben Arthur to be combined with some of the other Arrochar Alps, notably Beinn Narnain and Beinn Ìme.

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