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One week in September 2013 (Part 1) - The Cobbler & Narnain
by Graeme D » Tue Sep 17, 2013 4:39 pm
Munros included on this walk: Beinn Narnain
Corbetts included on this walk: The Cobbler
Date walked: 08/09/2013
Time taken: 6.6 hours
Distance: 13 km
Ascent: 1500m5 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
However, one must never look a gift horse in the mouth, every cloud has a silver lining e.t.c., e.t.c........ I was not entirely disconsolate at the notion of being left home alone for a week, especially as there was still just about enough daylight left to squeeze in a few shortish evening walks after work during the week. And as for today....... driving out of Prestwick Airport before 7am on a Sunday morning....... well, there was really only one reasonable course of action - head for some hills!!!!!!!
I had settled on Arrochar as my destination. It has always felt like a rather difficult place to get to from Perth and I had postponed plans for these hills on numerous occasions in the past. I was driving back home to Perth anyway, so it made sense to head over the Erskine Bridge and make a day of it in the Arrochar Alps before heading home.
We had dropped the dog off with my parents in Auchterarder on Saturday on our way through to stay with my mother-in-law in Bothwell on Saturday night, so I had a Sunday roast to look forward to with my parents when I stopped by to pick Lucy up on my way home - sadly the hard, rocky terrain of the Arrochar Alps is now too much for the old girl, although the spirit is probably still willing.
I took a wee wrong turn coming off the Erskine Bridge - a combination of traffic cones, loud music, mountain anticipation and a large lorry probably too close in front of me meant that I was off onto the Crianlarich road rather than the Dumbarton road before I could do anything about it. So a wee detour into the fringes of Clydebank had to be made before I was heading past Dumbarton and signs for Helensburgh - a veritable tour of my wife's childhood!
I still hadn't had breakfast (other than a cup of coffee at 4.30 that is) so I pulled into Balloch in search of something. I drove past McDonalds, settling for the healthy option of a 2 pack of iced Belgian buns from the Co-op instead!
Then I was off up the A82 on the bonnie banks to Tarbet and over to the car park at Succoth where I made a few last minute gear alterations before hitting the track. The car park was still pleasantly quiet at this hour on a Sunday morning. It looked like I was ahead of the hordes!
The much photographed signage at the start
I sweated and puffed my way up through the tight bends of the forestry track with a rather surreal feeling - I had postponed definite plans for this route on so many occasions that it somehow still didn't seem real that I was finally doing it!
Arrochar, Loch Long and Ben Reoch from Tam McAulay's bench
Down Loch Long
My plan was to go up the south ridge of the Cobbler before heading out to Luibhean and Ime and then heading back to the car over Narnain. Just before the weir and my departure point for the south ridge, I caught up with a couple of walkers attired in jeans and trainers and sporting rather natty plastic carrier bags - sadly i couldn't make out from which supermarket chain the bags originated so I remained unsure of whether they were Asda F*** Monkeys or not! Hey ho - welcome to the Cobbler and Beinn Narnain!!!!!
Narnain skulking under dark clouds from just beyond the edge of the forestry
North up the main path from the weir
The south ridge was squelchy, but my new £30 sealskinz socks were making their maiden voyage and seemed to be faring well. So they should for £30 I thought! My Brasher boots are beginning to show signs of old age and I had been thinking about trying the sealskinz socks for a while, having already bought a pair of their gloves which seem to do what it says on the tin.
Lochs Lomond and Long, Bens Lomond and Reoch, from the first set of crags up the south ridge
Looking up the south ridge
Why is it called Loch Long????!!!!
Blue skies over some of the Luss hills
The guts of the mountain beginning to put in an appearance
The north stack coming more into play
Back down the south ridge
A splash of sunshine far below
I was soon into the pea soup and trying to make sense of the rocky terrain that loomed out of the clag ahead of me. I soon realised that I was contouring around the back of the south peak and it took me a bit of time and a few slips on the wet rocks to pick a route through before I emerged onto the main sumit ridge between the south and central summits.
The backside of the south summit
Onto the arete between the south and central peaks
I took a wee wander over to the foot of the south summit, entertaining vague notions of attempting an ascent but was quickly disabused of the idea. Even in the clag, I had seen enough!
The south summit
I retraced my steps and before I knew it I was below the central peak - the iconic pinnacle of rock as seen in seemingly thousands of pictures and reports. Other than a bloke sitting on a boulder having a bite to eat, the place was deserted - exactly how I had always wanted it to be when I finally got here. Plastic bag couple soon appeared from the east but that was as crowded as it got up here this morning.
I chatted to the bloke sitting on the boulder, a guy from Denny called William who had managed to escape up here for the umpteenth time while his wife went shopping! Nice one William! I asked him about threading the needle and he told me that I'd "manage it no problem". I have to confess that despite my reasonable level of experience in exposed mountain locales, I was a little wary of this one. Plastic bag couple didn't look even remotely interested in the idea of going up there so I guess it was up to me to provide the entertainment. I could either sit here and eat some of my food until they all left or I could take advantage of the fact that there would at least be witnesses on hand to call the boys in the chopper if it all went pear shaped.
William offered to take some photos with my camera so I left that with him and headed of towards the rather ominous looking rock pinnacle.
About to thread the eye of the needle
THE NEXT 2 PHOTOS WERE TAKEN BY WILLIAM
The eye of the needle close up
I shuffled through the hole in the rock and onto the ledge - true enough, it wasn't nearly as sloping or exposed as I had imagined. The rest was pretty straightforward and I was soon up top doing victory poses. Then William shouted up that my battery had just died! I had two spares in my pocket but before I could even think about getting one down to him, William had gone off to fetch his camera. Photos taken, I clambered back down and William said he'd send me the photos if I gave him my email address. True to his word, the photos were in my inbox later that evening. Cheers William!
Victory pose on the central stack
William headed off, quickly followed by plastic bag couple, who said something about heading for Beinn Ime. I spent 10 minutes or so having something to eat and generally faffing about with some kit before heading off. I wanted to detour to check out the south ridge of Beinn Luibhean, in case I bailed today and should need to return in the future to claim it. I carefully picked my way around slippery rocks the size of cars and cavernous holes the size of houses before finally reaching less treacherous grassy slopes that led down to a spot where I could get a good eye on Luibhean's south face.
Skirting the north summit
Beinn an Lochain
Binnein an Fhidhleir and Beinn Luibhean
From here I contoured round over some very squelchy terrain through the northern coire to pick up the staircase down towards the Bealach a'Mhaim. The staircase was like the M25 at rush hour (where did all these folk come from????) and the boggy area around the point where the three paths meet at the bottom felt like some of the railway station platforms I have stood on in India in my time!
Staircase towards the Bealach a'Mhaim
I faffed around for too long while I weighed up my options. In the end I lost the will to head out to Luibhean and Ime (or even just Ime) and decided to head out over Narnain. The path up to Narnain was relatively quiet - most of the traffic seemed to be heading out to Ime or up onto the Cobbler.
The Cobbler from early on in the ascent of Narnain
South ridge of the Cobbler from the ascent of Narnain
In what seemed like no time at all I was at the summit of Narnain - September already and yet only my 5th new Munro of 2013!
Yours truly at the summit of Narnain - only my 5th new Munro of the year!
The cloud came and went (but mostly came and stayed), although there were a couple of tantalising glimpses of Loch Long way below.
Loch Long just about visible from the summit of Narnain
I picked a fairly straight line down to the path, easily managing to negotiate any crags I encounted on the way. As I descended, the cloud suddenly blew over and the Cobbler emerged like a mirage out of the clouds. Even from this distance, the crowds at the top could clearly be made out.
Clearing on the descent - the usual story!
Cloud lifting on the Cobbler
Thar she blows!
Zoomed - hordes massing below the summit!
Luibhean and Fhidhleir up the path and over the bealach
I was soon back on the path and heading back down towards the car and a well earned pint at the Village Inn in Arochar before heading to mum and dad for Sunday dinner.
Back down onto the path
A last look back at a stunning piece of mountain
Ben Lomond and Ben Reoch from the weir
Inscribed plaque on Tam McAulay's bench, taken on the descent
Time for a libation at the Village Inn in Arrochar
The view across Loch Long from my pint pot
Well, Day 1 of my week home alone and already some serious hill action in the bag! Bring on the rest of the week!
by The Rodmiester » Tue Sep 17, 2013 5:19 pm
by PeteR » Tue Sep 17, 2013 8:09 pm
I've done the Cobbler in all weathers. A great little winter hill Narnain is good too, especially the descent down off the Spearhead if you ever go back
As for the plastic bag mob, you get plenty of them on that path unfortunately along with the "sensible shoes" lot too
by Bod » Tue Sep 17, 2013 10:46 pm
by Collaciotach » Tue Sep 17, 2013 10:54 pm
I also put these of for a while more for the busy aspect but really enjoyed my day out on them
by davetherave » Wed Sep 18, 2013 2:42 am
I find now that all of the nearer hills have been ticked off, most short hiking days are actually pretty long days due to the traveling distance.
The Cobbler is a cracker of a hill. Rather you than me tackling that wet sloping ledge, was bone dry when I completed it.
Ohh, dont beat yourself up about only doing 5 munros this year..... still 5 more than I have managed.
by kevsbald » Wed Sep 18, 2013 12:10 pm
by rockhopper » Mon Sep 23, 2013 11:45 pm
by Graeme D » Tue Sep 24, 2013 8:27 pm
rockhopper wrote:Good to see you back on the munros, Graeme, even if the weather didn't exactly play ball - doesn't seem like three years now since meeting on Ben Oss - cheers
Indeed. Where did 3 years go?
by basscadet » Wed Sep 25, 2013 9:27 am
And aye, every time I see a nice gilet in an outdoor shop, I think of you
by stuart mclovin » Wed Sep 25, 2013 1:37 pm