The Cobbler - 884m
Sunday 26th August 2007
Weather/Conditions: High pressure cumulus. The first section was probably a little too hot, although it became more overcast as the day went on, and as a result cooler. A wind picked up as I went over to the Cobbler, but was gone by the time I descended.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 12km / 1170m / 3h 50m
Dad and cousin Allan dropped me off at the car park opposite Arrochar at 12.50pm. It was a fairly clear day, and the temperate was just right. After crossing the road, I followed the winding path up and because I'd made good time up The Cobbler the week before, I decided I'd monitor my progress again. Well, it turned out that I made the first 1100 feet in half an hour again - progress was good. However it was hot and I would hope some cumulus would move over just to cool things of a bit; of course it didn't. Although I was a little on the hot side, I thought that if there was a westerly wind blowing through the valley, then it should keep me cool. On the other hand, I also forgot sun cream. Hopefully not too much of a problem, though.
After reaching the dam at 1100 feet after about half an hour of walking, I just pressed on. I didn't exactly stop for anything, I just wanted to get to 2000 feet by an hour of less! I discovered I could enjoy the speed aspect of hillwalking - I found it actually enjoyable and strangely satisfying. The next 1000 feet were better as I felt as if I was getting somewhere, the ground wasn't as steep and a gentle breeze whisked down the valley. The sun was still out although it didn't bother me in the slightest. I just walked on, gradually upwards, approaching 2000 feet. And it was great. It was however very busy. But that was about to change. I turned off the main path and continued going between The Cobbler and Beinn Narnain. I decided to do Narnain first, and then go along to The Cobbler. But the path was strange, because it was ... quiet. That was the main thing I suppose. I wasn't used to it. Being 2000 feet up, walking through a valley you haven't been in before, alone. If anything I felt slightly vulnerable. I knew fine well where I was going, I just had to tell myself "keep going and you'll see where to go."
Well, it was fine actually. I found where the path turned off for Beinn Narnain, and it was actually nothing but a tiny bit of worn grass. As most people turned off to go up the back of The Cobbler, I went the opposite way. If anything I was becoming more solitary, as the path between the two mountains still had people on it. But I felt good about where I was. Maybe it was because I could almost see my final goal. The other thing I found is that I had a surprising amount of energy. By this point the week before on the Cobbler, I was tired and slow, but maybe that did me a lot of good, because this time around I was still strong as ever and I was walking up towards 2300 feet! I couldn't believe my strength. It's maybe because I'd never seen fitness have such a profound effect before. I'd only ever experienced minor changes, but to have so much energy when I was so drained the week before was amazing. I also began running up at 2300 feet, and I hadn't a clue where the energy was coming from!
I saw one person high above me, which was good to know. Good to know that there was someone else on the mountain. I spotted one or two distant figures slogging up the side of Beinn Ime, but apart from that I didn't see anybody else.
About 3000 feet up I ran into an old woman who didn't even see me until I was a few metres away from her. She turned around, got a bit of a fright and then we yapped for five minutes about different routes up the mountain. She was going to look for a shallower route to the summit instead of climbing directly up the boulders and we parted ways there. I went up the last steep, rocky section up, and ended up on the plateau. Then finally! The summit was there ... I could see the trig point now, and there was a surprising amount of people about. I saw a fair few more than I expected.
I reached the summit at 2.25pm. I asked a guy who was also at the summit if he could take a picture of me and he kindly did. After a few minutes spent at the summit I went to find somewhere a bit more secluded and went around the west side a little and found a small area where I sat down and took some water. I tried a roll but really didn't feel like it. Instead I sunbathed! I have to say, this is probably the most relaxed I have been on a hill, and it was absolutely brilliant. From my view point, I could see right down Loch Long and Ailsa Craig sat perched on the horizon some 70 miles away. Ben Lomond was to my left, and in front was the Cobbler.
I decided to leave after maybe five minutes. I wanted to press on again, and get over to The Cobbler. I packed up my stuff, and left. I passed by the summit, and continued west over the plateau, and down the side I came up. I even passed the woman again and we talked a little more before carrying off on our own journeys.
My descent down Beinn Narnain was incredibly fast I think, and maybe uncontrolled? I'm not sure, but it certainly did not take long to get down. I took the bealach at 2000 feet again and began going up the side of The Cobbler. I slogged up the side, now exhausted and with a wind blowing from the west. I walked behind the north peak, came to the high bealach and continued around the back of the mountain. In addition to sun cream I should have brought a hat...
By 3.10pm, it came of no surprise to me that the summit was packed. Absolutely packed. I can't say I wasn't expecting it either, but there couldn't have been less than 20 or 30 people all huddled up around the pinnacle. There was one person on the pinnacle using ropes to descend through the eye of the needle presumably because she couldn't get onto the slope. And if so, I don't blame her either, I would be lying if I said I didn't nearly sh*te myself when I tried it.
In the end I took a quite summit picture of myself, and abruptly left. There's something I seem to love about the solo form of hill walking, everything about it feels different, but in a good way. Something changes in the way you think or make decisions, to me anyway.
I left The Cobbler's summit and began to make a quick descent. Every time I descend I always say I'll need trekking poles for the next one, but never get them of course. I got down to the dam in about 40 minutes. I had some time to spare so I spent ten minutes at the river putting my feet into the water to refresh them and finishing off the remainder of my food. It was nice I'll say that although I never seemed to get completely comfortable. Maybe it was the lack of a flat surface to lye on ... or something like that :-)
After a while, I put my boots back on to began the final descent. This was mainly featureless although I did make plans to wait by the car park until dad and Allan arrived. And guess what? I was twenty seconds off hitting the road when dad and Allan began walking up the path! They were going to go up to about 1000 feet, or so they were hoping and my quick return meant we were back to the car before they'd had a chance to do any walking. I felt sort of funny about it, because it would have been great to see them up at the dam! Although I have to say, as I write this on the night of Monday the 15th of October 2007, I am taking Alan up Beinn Ime and maybe a few others so that evens things out a little! Plus, and I got off at 4.40pm - 3 hours and 50 minutes to climb a Munro and a Corbett - bloody hell!
Overall, this was one of my favourite climbs to date, and upon reflection, the route and time I took felt very satisfying. A superb day.