Climbing The Cobbler…
Famous for its distinctive shape and rocky crags and the challenge of ‘threading the needle’, climbing the Cobbler is a great introduction to the hills in Scotland. Here is how to climb it.
Did you know Scotland has its own set of ‘Alps’? Between the banks of Loch Lomond and Loch Long are the rocky peaks of the Arrochar Alps, some of Scotland’s most popular and dramatic mountains. With four Munros, and multiple Corbetts, Grahams and Tops, including the Iconic Ben Arthur, otherwise known as The Cobbler. With three peaks, Ben Arthur is said to look like a cobbler bent over their work – hence the name!
How to climb the Cobbler
How to get there: Park at the Arrochar Alps Car Park (Succoth, Forestry Commission, paid) on the A83 to the north of Arrochar village. The path to the hills is across the A83, cross with care.
Each walk up into the Arrochar Alps starts the same way – with an endless zig zagging path that takes you up through the woods, with lovely views back to Loch Long and across to Ben Lomond. There is a bench halfway up for a rest!
Don’t be fooled by the excellent path, the walk up to the base of the hill is 3 miles and whilst the Cobbler is one of the most popular hills in Scotland for beginners, at 884m it is not far off a Munro height. At the top of the zig zags you pop out on a hillside strewn with the huge Narnain boulders and then follow the path alongside the Allt a’ Bhalachain stream right to the base of The Cobbler.
There are two routes to the summit – the easiest is to the rear, where you climb a set of steps to the top. My favourite route up the Cobbler is up the front face, which while is still up a recognised path, there is lots of fun scrambling bits.
The Cobbler – Threading the Needle
At the top of the Cobbler are three craggy summits – the south summit is only recommended with climbing equipment and / or scrambling experience – but the central summit has a famous pinnacle ‘thread the needle’ by jumping across, climbing through the hole in the pinnacle and then scrambling up to stand on the rocky peak which is actually the very top of the hill. It looks hard – but you really just need a good head for heights – and an Instagram account to show off that you’ve done it.
From the top there are incredible views across the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park are stunning and on a clear day you can see across to Ben Nevis.
Best Time To Climb The Cobbler?
Scotland’s weather is best in May and September. Be prepared for a full day out and for the weather to change, it might be a popular hill but the Cobbler is much higher than it looks.
- Read this post on what can happen in the Arrochar Alps if you don’t prepare!
For weather forecasts, I recommend you check out:
Don’t attempt climbing The Cobbler in winter unless you have winter gear.
How To Get To The Cobbler Scotland
The Cobbler is above the village of Arrochar, which sits on Loch Long around 1 hour north of Glasgow and 2 hours from Edinburgh. There are daily bus services to Arrochar with City Link.
A note on Parking at Arrochar
Parking for the Cobbler is at the Succoth car park. Parking is £1 per hour, max £9 per day – do not park on the grass or you will be fined. There is more car parking available at the head of the loch.
How Hard Is It To Climb The Cobbler?
Whilst climbing The Cobbler is not technically hard, it is steep and the return trip around 7 miles – so don’t climb up expecting a wee trip up Arthur’s Seat. You will need hill walking gear and be prepared for the weather to change in a heartbeat – mist, fog and rain can sweep in quickly off the west coast of Scotland.
- My beginners guide to hill walking in Scotland.
How Long Does It Take To Climb The Cobbler ?
With a reasonable level of fitness, the walk up the Cobbler will take around 2 hours from the car park, although I’d leave around 6 hours for the full walk – you’ll need plenty of time on the top for photos – and to work up the courage to thread the needle!
Love, From Scotland x