The previous day, our party had prevailed against sun, heat, and countless midges to reach the top of Ben Lomond. (see report, http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=65695) From the top, the Arrochar Alps beckoned most invitingly, and I felt the urge to climb one of them. I scoured through WH and thought the frontal attack on Beinn Narnain would be worth doing, so the next morning, while my fellow walkers slept in (!), off I went.
The day was overcast and cloudy, but I was counting on the clouds lifting later. Parked at the Succoth car park, which at that hour (6:30 perhaps) was nice and empty. Found the start of the path, and the early going is a little rough through the woods, but the concrete caissons provide a steady and periodic reassurance that you are where you think you are.
Eventually you intersect a perpendicular path that contours the mountain. The WH description is correct, do what it says. If you believe the OS map, you will turn left and then look for a turn soon to the right, but this simply does not exist. I backtracked and then headed straight up the ridge, as WH had instructed. From here, there was a modest view of Loch Long below, but the approx. 650 m hills across the loch were still shrouded in fog.
Unfortunately, though, following the path straight up the mountain led me into some trouble. After maybe 500 m I got to a point where it simply was too scrambly, and I had clearly lost the path. I was drenched in sweat, my legs were heavy, and I was ready to concede defeat.
It was then that I looked down the mountain and saw, to my infinite relief, another climber. I went down a bit and met up with him, got to talking, his name was Jim from Glasgow and he had done this mountain many times over. He was kind enough to let me tag along with him, and with this as encouragement, I got my second wind. I had to push myself to keep up because he was quite fit. He had two dogs with him, which helped slow him down a bit now and then and gave me a chance to catch my breath.
Once we got into the fog, there was very little to be seen anywhere. I'm sure if left to my own devices, I would never have reached the summit, but Jim seemed to see a path where I could see none, and I simply followed his steps. After an interminable and strenuous climb, we finally reached the fog-shrouded summit. Got a few photos at the trig point, but there was nothing to be seen at all.
We came down the north-west slope, as Jim was headed for the Cobbler and I certainly did not want to go back the way I'd come (not without Jim, at least!). Once we got down to the bealach, the clouds began to lift, and there were some great views of Beinn Ime to be seen. Also, the Cobbler looked really tempting, but the path up is almost ladder-like in its ascent, so I parted from my kind-hearted guide and headed down the tourist route back towards Loch Long. Along the way, there are some very nice views of the Cobbler, and of other features along the way. And tons of traffic coming up the hill!
Overall, a memorable hike but not a rewarding one, as the foggy summit was hardly worth all the effort. Nonetheless, I could thus claim my 8th Munro, so it was not a waste at all. In hindsight, the tourist route is a lot more reasonably sloped and far easier to find and stay on; I should have taken that on the way up, and possibly come down the front of the mountain.
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