Ben Arthur is part of the Arrochar Alps and is one of the most popular areas in Scotland for mountaineers. In formation, the Arrochar Alps are rockier than other areas in the Southern Highlands. Even though the Cobbler with its 884m height is not the highest mountain peak in the Southern Highlands, it is an extraordinary mountain with three rocky summits. The mountains around Ben Arthur also offer beautiful hill walking possibilities but are by far not as popular as the Cobbler. The name “Cobbler” is more often used than its original name “Ben Arthur”. However, only the mountain peak is the Cobbler while Ben Arthur describes the whole mountain.
Ben Arthur is one of the most difficult mountains for rock climbing in Scotland. Situated in the East of the Arrochar Alps is Loch Lomond and Loch Long in the westthe appraoch can be via the Rest and Be Thankful Pass, one of the most scenic drives in Scotand. Even in the past when people could only travel by train, the Cobbler was already popular for mountaineering and rock climbing. The reason is not only because it is challenging to reach one of the peaks but its accessability to places like Glasgow. There are some excellent views from the mountain from south to south-east including Ben Lomond, Firth of Clyde and the other mountains in the area such as Ben Ime, Ben Vane, Ben Narnain and Ben Vorlich Loch Lomond.
Arrochar rock is mainly mica-schist with a coating of lichen which can become quite slippery throughout the whole year. The summit of the Cobbler is a huge rock. For this reason, climbing this mountain is quite challenging. Even for people who are not afraid of heights it is very exciting to reach the top of the mountain. Most visitors climb the Cobbler during summer when the rocks are dryer but climbing the Cobbler during winter is interesting as well because there are some good snow and ice routes. Nevertheless, it is not the typical winter climbing destination because snow is infrequent.
For climbing each peak it is necessary to have good climbing abilities and wear suitable clothes. The Cobbler is an interesting mountain for advanced mountaineering but also suitable for beginners in good physical condition. For those who want to reach the peaks, some scrambling ability is essential. The most exciting place for rock climbing is the east face of the north peak with its stunning view.
The most popular route starts from the north-west of loch Long. This starting point can be seen on the map above. There are several paths going up to the three mountain peaks. Another starting point is from Ardgartan which goes up the south-east ridge. From all the routes the easiest one starts 4km north-west of Ardgartan. However it is also the most unspectacular route because it doesn’t have the great views.
The peak north of the Cobbler is called Cobbler’s Wife and is very impressive because of its overhanging beaks of rock. The South peak is called “The Cobbler’s Last” and is steep on all sides. This peak is the most difficult one for mountaineering. However, there is a route from the south-east ridge which is the easiest way to get to the top.
Access is easy from Glasgow to the main centre Arrochar which has bus and train connections. In Arrochar and the surrounding villages are hotels, B&Bs and a youth hostel in Ardgartan. From there it is possible to walk to the starting point to Ben Arthur.