Ben Arthur/The Cobbler

Ben Arthur

One of the summits that make up the Cobbler, an awesome Corbett in the Arrochar Alps

Another favourite mountain of mine, the Cobbler is in the Arrochar Alps in Argyll and Bute, not far from Loch Lomond and the evocatively-named Rest-and-be-Thankful. One of the key sites in early British mountaineering, because of its proximity to Glasgow, alpine features, and sheer variety of climbing routes (from scrambles to ‘extreme’ routes), it stands out from its neighbours for those very reasons. All excellent reasons to recommend it, and it certainly stood out for me on my first trip to Scotland.

It was the end of my first year at University, and the Walking Club took a tour of Loch Lomond and the Lake District, with around five days in each. Throughout our time around Loch Lomond my eye was drawn to the mountain, and although most of the photos weren’t great -I blame the simple camera I had (less of the muttering about a bad workman, it didn’t have a zoom of any kind!)- when we did climb it, the combination of a truly gripping ascent, great conditions, and the chance to thread the needle* on the main summit make this still one of my favourite ever walks, and this a favourite image as a result. I still haven’t got a set of photos that I’m totally happy with (went back in spring 2006, but my camera was broken and had to use a disposable :-(), but that hasn’t changed the affection I have for the mountain.

It’s a good example of a smaller mountain which, in spite of its size, manages to provide great entertainment in terms of challenge, views and sheer exposure around the summit. In fact I’d say it’s a more worthy climb than the surrounding munros (stand-alone mountains over 3,000ft tall), which tend to draw the attention of peak baggers -it certainly helped to change my views, I really appreciate smaller hills these days. (This is a Corbett -a mountain between 2,500 & 3,000 ft with a 500ft drop to the surrounding land surface.)

*Threading the needle is the only way to reach the true summit, which is the rock plinth to the right of my picture. You have to go through one of the holes, walk along a ledge, then scramble to the top of the platform (see this somewhat cheesy video, or one of the others that YouTube recommends). Didn’t know it was called threading the needle until I started writing this. I can remember certain members of my walking group being quite concerned to see me crawl through the gap and then appear on the top!


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Another panoramic, pick a long thin print for this one: 12″x5″ or similar.

©Stephen Tyrrell, Mountains, Wild Places & Water, 2013. All rights reserved.

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