Haystacks and Kirk Fell from Honister Hause

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Wainwrights: Haystacks, Kirk Fell
Hewitts: Kirk Fell
Date walked: 23/03/2024
Views: 19

Blencathra from Threlkeld

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Wainwrights: Blencathra
Hewitts: Blencathra
Date walked: 02/03/2024
Views: 19

Whernside & Ingleborough

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Hewitts: Ingleborough, Whernside
Date walked: 17/02/2024
Views: 20

Helvellyn Dodds from Dowthwaite Head

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Wainwrights: Great Dodd, Stybarrow Dodd, Watson's Dodd
Hewitts: Great Dodd, Stybarrow Dodd
Date walked: 10/02/2024
Views: 22

Coledale Horseshoe (minus Hopegill Head).

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Wainwrights: Eel Crag, Grisedale Pike, Sail
Hewitts: Crag Hill (Eel Crag), Grisedale Pike, Sail
Date walked: 03/02/2024
Views: 18

Head of Mardale skyline via Riggindale Ridge

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Wainwrights: Harter Fell (Far Eastern Fells), High Street, Mardale Ill Bell
Hewitts: Harter Fell (Far Eastern Fells), High Street
Date walked: 27/01/2024
Views: 21

The Cobbler (with Punster's Crack)

Corbetts: The Cobbler

Date walked: 22/06/2023

Bagging all the Corbetts might have been a viable aspiration if I were based in Scotland and had more time; but with so few of them under my belt, at my time of life, that just ain't gonna happen, realistically. The same goes for Karl, who isn't interested in "collecting" Corbetts. However, since some of the finest hills in Scotland happen to be Corbetts, I don't want to miss out on them altogether. The Cobbler is definitely one of those Corbetts whose attractions transcend purely bagging motives, outshining those of many a Munro.

So, while bagging a couple of Munros (Ben Vorlich and Beinn Bhuidhe) was on the agenda for our June trip to Arrochar, so was an ascent of the Cobbler with no regard for hill lists at all. Reaching the summit, of course, was an objective in its own right, but we were equally keen (or at least I was) to do one of the classic rock climbs. Ever since seeing the stunning photo of Punster's Crack on the back cover of the second edition of Classic Rock, The Cobbler had established itself on my "must visit" list.

The photo of Punster's Crack on the back cover of Classic Rock (2nd edition); the climber in the red top is on the crux of pitch 2. The pitch continues rightwards to a belay point at the right end of the ledge. Pitch 3 goes up the wall above.

Our allotted week began as the long heatwave that had the country baking for a week or two ended. Our feelings about that were mixed. On the one hand it was a relief not to be wilting in the heat; but on the other hand it was disappointing to be back to the usual clag and rain, which potentially would scupper our chances of doing Punster's Crack.

We'd driven up from Cumbria on Monday 19th and pitched camp at Beinglas Farm, where we would stay until the following Saturday. Once settled in, the first thing we wanted to see was the forecast for the week ahead. It didn't look good, but could have been worse. Rain for Tuesday and Wednesday; light cloud with sunny intervals for Thursday; rain again for Friday. Very light winds all through. So Thursday looked the best bet for The Cobbler, if the forecast held, and everything else would revolve around that.

A bit of rain and clag wouldn't prevent us from bagging Munros (though of course it's always a shame to miss the views), so we decided to do Ben Vorlich the next day to see how things developed. As it turned out, though it was wet and miserable at first, by the time we reached the summit area the clag was clearing off and we got some pretty decent views. This was encouraging for Beinn Bhuidhe next day, for which we'd brought the bikes (we went by the traditional Glen Fyne route). Conditions on the approach were even wetter and more miserable than when setting out for Ben Vorlich, and on reaching the path beside the burn just past Inverchorachan, we very nearly turned back. But we carried on and things soon began to improve. The rain stopped, the cloud-base lifted, and by the time we reached the ridge the sun was coming out. We were treated to fantastic views from the summit and the afternoon just got better and better, boding well for the following day.

The night having stayed dry and with just a few wreaths of white cloud dispersing from the Arrochar Alps in an otherwise clear blue sky on Thursday morning, we were all set for the Cobbler. On arriving at Succoth we bit the bullet and paid the exorbitant parking fee in the main car park (£9 for the full day). At least the excellent path up through the forest was just across the road. Laden with all the climbing gear this was going to be a bit of a trudge, so it was a case of heads down and a steady plod.

Ben Lomond from the bench seat above Succoth

Eventually the gradient eased off and we caught our first glimpse of The Cobbler - an amazing sight.

View of The Cobbler as the path begins to level off into Coire a' Bhalachain. Left to right - South Peak, Central Peak (summit), North Peak. Most of the well known climbs, including Punster's Crack, are on the overhanging south face of North Peak.

The path to The Cobbler turned down left to cross the burn, headed towards an impressive little rock wall, then began to rise ever more steeply towards the North Peak, passing under its south face.

South face of the North Peak; Punster's Crack winds under and around the left-hand of the two prows.

Gradually the line of Punster's Crack came more into view. Karl was getting a bit demoralized by the steepening and seemingly interminable approach. It had to be admitted, this was a long way to come with climbing gear for such a short climb (Punster's is only 45 metres long). At least the weather was warm and sunny - just what we'd hoped for.

South Peak on the left

Ben Lomond from under the North Peak

South Peak

Loch Long

Ben Lomond with Loch Lomond and Loch Long

At last we reached the point, just below the col between the North and Central peaks, where we could deposit the sacks and gear up for the climb. We had a good breather and took the opportunity to drink plenty of water and eat some lunch.

The prow up which Punster's Crack weaves its way

After our break we followed a faint track up the steep grass, winding between a couple of lower outcrops, to the start of the climb, which was marked by a rock ledge under a prominent corner crack. I had intended to take a photo looking up this, but in my eagerness to get started, I forgot. :roll: The corner crack of this first pitch is seen well in the Classic Rock photo, directly below the red-topped climber.

We uncoiled the ropes, tied on and I set off up a steep little slab just right of the corner that led easily into the corner itself. Other than at the Polldubh crags in Glen Nevis, this was the first time I'd climbed on mica schist, which has a different feel from rhyolite (Glen Coe, Lakes, Snowdonia) or granite (Arran, Cairngorms), being almost silky smooth and embedded with a lot of quartz. The crack in the corner soon steepened at a small overhang in the right wall. Fortunately the protection here was good, as overcoming this bulge proved quite tricky - no pushover for 4a, I thought. Thereafter the corner eased off, with just one steep pull up the left wall to the grassy ledges on the left. These are crossed to an easy but unprotected slab leading to a hanging, block belay (climber in blue in the Classic Rock photo). When it came to Karl's turn, he got up to the overhang without issue, but struggled to overcome this. To my dismay he declared that he was unable to do it; but then suddenly he was up, to my relief. That's Karl all over. :lol:

The second pitch had me a little concerned as it was a long traverse, which meant that Karl's safety as second man would depend on the frequency and quality of the runners I placed as leader. At first sight there didn't seem to be much in the way of runner placements. Setting off was indeed bold, but pretty easy, and higher up a small slot for a wire appeared. To the left of the crux (position of red-topped climber in the Classic Rock photo) was a good crack that took a couple of bomb-proof runners, but for Karl's protection there also needed to be a runner to its right (that Karl wouldn't need to remove until after the crux moves). Fortunately a thin, well-used crack appeared, a little low but perfectly formed to take a small wire. The crux move itself involved positioning the left foot carefully to enable a wide bridge across the gap. Once my right foot was across I was able to place the crucial wire for Karl then pull round and continue across to a deep crack that accommodated some substantial runners. A bit further on was the right end of the ledge where I arranged the belay. I felt happy that the runners I'd placed would give Karl adequate protection in case of a fall.

Karl setting off on pitch 2. The crux (where the climber in the Classic Rock photo is positioned) is at the shadowed bulge, top centre.

So now it was Karl's turn to climb and he soon reached the crux. He got his feet a bit too far in so wasn't able to get the wide bridge that keeps you in balance. But with a struggle and the expenditure of a lot more effort than would have been necessary, he got across. Phew, great stuff.

All that remained now was pitch 3, up the wall above us. A short step round to the right, up a bit then leftwards immediately above the overhangs sheltering the belay ledge, to reach a crack. This took good runner placements and led nicely up the wall to the top. The climbing was very exposed but straightforward. As I neared the top I could see some walkers looking over the edge. One chap had a camera and was watching me. "Hello", I said. "Incredible!", he exclaimed. "It's not really as difficult as it looks", I said, which he dismissed with a "huh".

Half way up pitch 3, looking down to Karl on the belay stance

Having set up the belay (sling on a spike not far from the path), it was Karl's turn to come up. He climbed smoothly and steadily, having no problems with this pitch. He actually enjoyed that, he told me, and found it hard to believe it was given the same technical grade as the previous two pitches (i.e. 4a). The difference, I think, is that the easiest ways to overcome the cruxes of pitches 1 and 2 are less obvious than for pitch 3, which is less "cruxy" but more sustained.

Karl coming up pitch 3 (and enjoying it!).

The prow of Dalriada (E8) - no takers? Perfect day for it! (Yikes)

So that was Punster's done. What a great climb. It was a cracking afternoon and the well-blazoned path to The Cobbler's summit beckoned irresistibly. We coiled up the ropes and headed down to the col and back to the sacks.

The path up Central Peak, from the top of Punster's Crack.

Beinn an Lochain and Beinn Luibhean from the descent off North Peak.

Back at the sacks we changed into our walking boots, packed up the climbing gear, then headed back up to the col to make for the summit. The little rock stack that constituted the summit was intriguing, with it's "window".

The summit stack of The Cobbler

The Brack

The "window" of the summit stack

Although officially given a climbing grade of "Moderate", getting to the top of the stack felt more like a jolly clamber than a climb. Even so, Karl decided to give it a miss as he felt he'd done enough climbing for one day and wasn't bothered about bagging the Corbett. He could enjoy the views all the same, which on this glorious afternoon were superb.

South Peak and Loch Long from summit stack

Beinn an Lochain and Beinn Luibhean

Beinn Ime

North Peak and Beinn Narnain

Closer view of the south face of North Peak; a pair of climbers can be seen topping out from Whither Wether (VS)

Back then to the sacks and down to the valley. The two climbers we spotted near the top of North Peak (visible in the photo above) had done the Wether Wall - Whither Wether combo. We found that out because we met them on the path through the forest.

A final glance back at The Cobbler

And so a very memorable day was happily concluded. We'd done everything we'd hoped to do on this trip despite two unpromising mornings. Next day the rain never stopped, but it didn't matter as we needed a rest anyway. We took the train from Tyndrum to Oban and sampled the local seafood. :D

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Comments: 15

Tinto from the South

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Attachment(s) Fionas: Tinto
Donalds: Tinto
Date walked: 08/04/2023
Distance: 6km
Ascent: 454m
Views: 222

Dheiragain and Ceathreamhnan from Glen Elchaig

Attachment(s) Munros: Mullach na Dheiragain, Sgùrr nan Ceathreamhnan
Date walked: 08/09/2021
Distance: 41.5km
Ascent: 2061m
Comments: 8
Views: 3018

Helicopter rescue at Gimmer Crag

Attachment(s) Date walked: 28/08/2021
Distance: 5km
Ascent: 648m
Comments: 13
Views: 3866


User avatar
Location: Cumbria
Interests: Many and varied
Activity: Ambler
Pub: The Mardale Inn
Mountain: An Teallach
Place: Glen Nevis
Gear: Marmot Windshirt
Ideal day out: A round of summits with some scrambling thrown in, or a nice multi-pitch climb.
Ambition: No fires, just embers
Wainwright rounds: 1

Munros: 244
Corbetts: 14
Fionas: 18
Donalds: 56
Wainwrights: 214
Hewitts: 164
Sub 2000: 1
Islands: 2

Filter reports



Trips: 6
Hewitts: 4
Wainwrights 12


Trips: 2
Distance: 6 km
Ascent: 454m
Corbetts: 1
Fionas: 1
Donalds: 1


Trips: 3
Distance: 67 km
Ascent: 3959m
Munros: 2
Corbetts: 1
Fionas: 2
Donalds: 4


Trips: 5
Distance: 57.9 km
Ascent: 5270m
Munros: 2
Fionas: 2
Hewitts: 8
Wainwrights 9


Trips: 16
Distance: 241.95 km
Ascent: 18327m
Munros: 9
Corbetts: 1
Fionas: 2
Donalds: 5
Hewitts: 17
Wainwrights 22


Trips: 13
Distance: 185.7 km
Ascent: 12938m
Munros: 5
Hewitts: 18
Wainwrights 19


Trips: 20
Distance: 324.06 km
Ascent: 21443m
Munros: 4
Corbetts: 2
Fionas: 3
Donalds: 12
Hewitts: 54
Wainwrights 47


Trips: 27
Distance: 432.8 km
Ascent: 27445m
Munros: 25
Corbetts: 1
Fionas: 5
Donalds: 12
Hewitts: 23
Wainwrights 28


Trips: 19
Distance: 302.6 km
Ascent: 16073m
Munros: 11
Corbetts: 2
Donalds: 5
Hewitts: 18
Wainwrights 28


Trips: 13
Distance: 246.3 km
Ascent: 12584m
Munros: 10
Hewitts: 22
Wainwrights 22


Trips: 1
Ascent: 2365m

Joined: Feb 13, 2015
Last visited: May 26, 2024
Total posts: 1621 | Search posts