Hiking The Cobbler (Arrochar) – July 5

As I lay in bed, I was thinking that perhaps I should order half pints next time… Which is to say, I was a little over excited to be in Edinburgh last night and that did not bode well for today’s planned activity – hiking The Cobbbler (or Arrochar or Ben Arthur or The Finger of God – which seems to get used a lot).  Still, plans are plans. So while Chad went to fetch the rental vehicle I finished packing up and schlepped our two suitcases and two backpacks down to await him. The super good news was that for some reason, the Royal Mile was nearly desolate despite it being around 9 am on a Thursday! In short order the luggage was crammed into the MG3 and we headed out to…the grocery. 

That’s right, our first stop heading out of Edinburgh was a grocery store because we finally had the foresight (Thanks Sam & Gwen!!!) to take a cooler with us. We were pretty sure that lunch would not be provided at The Cobbler, or at a lot of places we were planning on being. So off to the store we went! Those of you who know my abject distaste for going to the grocery at home, may be shocked to hear that I delight in grocery shopping abroad. But I do. 

Ok. Back to the story. In short order (there may have been napping on my part) we found ourselves having lunch at the trail head, which was a lovely place. The tide was way out. It was still lovely. 

Since we weren’t exactly getting an early start, there was no chance we were going to have a cool start to our hike. By the time we started up the trail, the sky was blue, the clouds were gone, and it was almost like hiking at home. Only less humid and starting at way lower elevation. 

I was ever so happy to have a 2.5L water reservoir for this hike. Especially as I kept stopping and wishing that all the trees that were blocking the wind, would have at least give us some shade. But nope. No shade, no breeze, only sun. In Scotland. Thanks unseasonally high temperatures. You suck. 

When we finally cleared the tree line, the breeze did pick up. Which was a tremendous relief. However, what was not a relief was looking up at The Cobbler and thinking A. It was really still far away and B. Jutted up out of the landscape in a really shocking manner. So yeah, that last bit was going to be a scramble. 

In addition to the sweet breeze, a nice little stream appeared, running along the trail, more or less. I’m sure when this area gets its usual allotment of rain, the creek is probably roaring. However, even in this drought, it was running quite nicely creating several little pools along the way. I really wanted to take off my shoes and plunge my feet into it, but the idea of motivating myself to keep moving up the trail after that was daunting. So I just enjoyed watching and listening to the water. 

After much slogging, we were getting close to the part where we would start gaining serious elevation. However, before that happened, we came to a fork in the trail. Now, we did have maps. We had trail maps. But what we did not have was the verbal description of the trail. It seemed logical that we would take the fork to the right, go around the back and pop up where we needed to be. But…that trail looked like it took a frolicking detour on the topo map. And the other trail looked to be more straightforward and quicker. We were tired. We pondered. Then we chose the left fork after talking to some other hikers. 

Onward and upward. It was going well, until we encountered some other hikers coming down that trail. They told us, no, the other trail was in fact less stupid (not their words) and quicker. Ah well, too late now. We were going to have to take the scrambling, scree approach. Hooray! Look how happy we are! 

There’s nothing quite like scrambling up a rocky path, all set up in top notch hiking shoes, hiking poles, fancy backpacks with water reservoirs….and then passing a group of teens with (I’m guessing) their grandma. And grandma is tackling the trail in sandals and using an umbrella has a hiking stick. Yep… 

As we stopped to take a breather, we could see a guy on the peak to our right coming down via rope. Not being climbers, we weren’t really sure what was going on. However, we were pretty sure he hadn’t climbed up, but had started from the top coming down. It looked like maybe he was either checking anchors or placing them. Whatever he was doing, it was taking quite some time. Dude had to be burnt when he finished up. 

So the trail scramble up was not as bad as it had originally appeared to be. From afar it looked like it was going to be a loose nightmare. Fortunately that was not the case. Not that it was a walk in the park, but it was nothing compared to what we would face in Fort William. Once on top, we gratefully ditched our packs, had a snack and pondered how exactly this thread the needle was supposed to work. 

All this time I thought that crawling through the needle was supposed to be the difficult part. It wasn’t. I scrambled through and found the 3 foot ledge on the other side. It was fine. 

HOWEVER…the next step appeared to be crawl or walk out the ledge. And I do feel like I should clarify that calling it a ledge makes it sound a little more dicey than it was. I pondered it. Took some time to go over in my head that even if I crawled out to the end, I would still have to STAND UP and scramble up onto the top. Uh, nope. It was so windy and while I was pretty sure I could have done the crawl without freaking out, I knew there was no way in hell I would be able to stand up and make the final scramble.  I’m in the photo below, if you click on it to make it big, you will be able to better understand what I described above. (MOM: You should not click to make it bigger.)

This is what our track log looked like. As you can see we chose to return to the car via the trail that descended from the back of the mountain. It was clearly the easier of the two trails. Although honestly, I would 100% rather scramble up loose rock than down. So I call our decision a good one! We also slacked and did not climb up to the North Peak – there were people there and I was tired and hungry. 

For your reference, you can check out our elevation cut away. I think the parking lot elevation was 7 feet! 

Once back to the car, we headed out to Knapp Guest House in Tarbert, which had a lovely little harbor. And a wonderful restaurant called Starfish where we feasted on fresh caught sea bass! 

Clickity on the photos below to embiggen. There are some I didn’t put in the narrative. 

chris on July 5th 2018 in Travel

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