The Cobbler

The Cobbler (Scottish Gaelic: Beinn Artair) is a mountain of 884 metres (2,900 ft) height located near the head of Loch Long in Scotland. Although only a Corbett, it is "one of the most impressive summits in the Southern Highlands",[1] and is also the most important site for rock climbing in the Southern Highlands. Many maps include the name Ben Arthur (an anglicisation of the Gaelic), but the name The Cobbler is more widely used.[1]

The Cobbler
Ben Arthur, Beinn Artair
Highest point
Elevation884 m (2,900 ft)[1]
Prominence256 m (840 ft)
Parent peakBeinn Narnain
ListingCorbett, Marilyn
LocationArgyll and Bute, Scotland
Parent rangeArrochar Alps, Grampian Mountains
OS gridNN259058
Topo mapOS Landranger 56

Arrochar Alps

The mountain is the most spectacular, although by no means the highest of the so-called Arrochar Alps, due to its distinctive, large rocky summit features which are supposed to represent a cobbler bending over his last. The features are visible many miles away from the mountain. Despite the mountain falling short of Munro height, due to its summit features, ease of access, and excellent summit views, it is one of the most popular mountains in Scotland.

Three summits

The Cobbler has three distinctive summits: the middle one is the highest.[1] The top is crowned by a rocky outcrop that marks the true summit. A very good head for heights is required to attain the true summit, which can best be reached by crawling through a hole (known as the needle) in the summit rock formation from the north side to the south.[2] This leads to a ledge around 1 m (3 ft 3 in) wide, with a sheer drop of well over 30 m (100 ft) on one side. The ledge is steeply inclined, and some scrambling ability is necessary to negotiate it and eventually gain the summit. Using this route is known as "threading the needle".[2] The easiest descent is by the same route – however, this is more difficult and extreme care must be taken, especially when descending the final part of the ledge. The mica schist rock is very slippery in the wet and falls can be deadly.[2]

The three summits are tightly grouped around a small corrie (glacial cirque), but their spectacular form is due to large-scale landslipping, not ice erosion.[3] The North Peak is deeply fissured, with climbing routes caving up through it. The Summit and South Peak are the remnants of a ridge which has visibly slipped away into Glen Croe, making much of the west side hazardous or impassable.

Available paths

The most common route starts from the village of Succoth, at the head of Loch Long.[1] Originally, the route first headed directly up the hillside, following the remains of an old tramway built as part of a water collection scheme. A newly constructed path has now been built, by-passing the tramway and zig-zagging up the hillside to give a more gentle ascent through an area of forestry. This path meets up with the old tramway path and continues from there, following a burn (stream) known as the Allt a' Bhalachain. From here the path bypasses the Narnain Boulders, steepening at around 600 metres (2,000 ft). Nearer the top, the path flattens out at a bealach (mountain pass), which is marked by a cairn. Several peaks may be accessed from this point.

Beside the route described above, the summits may also be reached starting from the A83 Rest-and-be-Thankful road through Glen Croe to the west,[1] by following the rocky south-eastern ridge up from Loch Long, or from the Bealach a' Mhàim. This bealach, at 640 metres (2,100 ft), allows Ben Arthur to be combined with some of the other Arrochar Alps, such as Beinn Narnain and Beinn Ìme.[1]


The Cobbler is the most important site for rock climbing in the Southern Highlands, and Scotland's first climbing club was the Cobbler Club, founded in 1866.[2]


  1. Chris Townsend (2011). "The Cobbler". Scotland. Cicerone Press. pp. 106–107. ISBN 9781852844424.
  2. Sandra Bardwell (2007). "Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park". Walking in Scotland. Walking Guides (2nd ed.). Lonely Planet. pp. 103–110. ISBN 9781741042030.
  3. Jarman D. 2004. The Cobbler - a mountain shaped by rock slope failure. Scottish Geographical Journal 120, 227-40

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