Ben Arthur, AKA The Cobbler, is one of Scotland’s most popular mountain walks. Forming part of the stunning Arrochar Alps in the Southern Highlands, and sitting in the shadow of Ben Lomond, The Cobbler is an easy-to-spot landmark on an extraordinary landscape. Views from Ben Arthur’s summit extend across Loch Long, Loch Lomond and down into beautiful Glen Croe. This hike is easily one of the best introductions to the beauty of the Scottish Highlands.
In this guide, we’ll talk about what and where The Cobbler in Scotland is. Then, we’ll look at the route map and give a brief trail description before discussing how to get there, where to stay and other great hikes to do in the area.
To see footage of The Cobbler hike in Scotland, please watch our 2 Phenomenal Loch Lomond Hikes YouTube production. For your convenience, when you press play below, the video will start exactly at the section showing the hike. Although, feel free to watch more for some West Highlands inspiration.
For more incredible hikes in Scotland, why not explore Ben Nevis, Bidean Nam Bian and the Ring of Steall in the West Highlands. Otherwise, read our 2 Phenomenal Loch Lomond Hikes in 1 Epic Day post, where we give an overview of how to squeeze two excellent walks into one epic day of hiking.
About The Cobbler in Scotland
The Cobbler is one of Scotland’s most recognisable mountains and at 884m high, enjoys Corbett status. The Gaelic name for the mountain is Beinn Artair, anglicised to Ben Arthur. However, you’ll find ‘The Cobbler’ is much more widely used. In fact, Ben Arthur gets its name ‘The Cobbler’ due to its jagged peaks resembling the appearance of a cobbler bending over his shoe last (a ‘last’ is a foot-shaped form used by shoemakers to manufacture and repair shoes, simply put). Similar to The Saddle mountain in the West Highlands, it has become more well-known by its nickname.
Ben Arthur has three summit peaks, with only two accessible by hiking. These are the central and north peaks. The third peak is reserved for rock climbers only. This south peak of Ben Arthur has crumbled away into Glen Croe below, making any route this way more tricky and dangerous. The Cobbler forms part of the Arrochar Alps in Scotland, neighbouring Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park.
The Cobbler walk is well maintained and laid out. Aside from the steepness, it’s not a particularly challenging hike. In fact, the most challenging thing about the hike is contending with the infamous Scottish midges in the summer! They certainly kept us speed hiking!
What’s speed hiking? It’s pushing the pace, covering that trail quicker without losing any of the joy of soaking in your surroundings. Find out more here.
Where Is The Cobbler in Scotland?
The Cobbler mountain sits in the Southern Highlands region of Scotland. It overlooks the northern tip of Loch Long in Argyll and Bute. The Cobbler makes up just one of a number of peaks that form the Arrochar Alps. There are five Munros in the Arrochar Alps, though by far the most popular mountain hike is to The Cobbler, a Corbett in Scotland. The mountain stands high above beautiful Glen Croe to the west, Loch Long to the south and Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park to the east. Additionally, Ben Arthur is just a short drive north of Glasgow and so makes for a very popular hiking trail on the weekends.
The Cobbler, Scotland Route Map
- Trail Type: Loop
- Distance: 13km
- Time: 3–4 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 890m
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Trailhead: Loch Long or Succoth Car Park
How to Hike The Cobbler, Scotland
From the Loch Long or Succoth Car Park, head to the gate marking the start of the Ben Arthur hike on the opposite side of the road to the Succoth Car Park. Here, you’ll find the initial ascent to The Cobbler starts with a fairly tedious zig-zagging climb through the Glen Croe forest on uneven terrain. But, your hard work will soon pay off as stunning views of Loch Long appear in the opposite direction as you emerge from the tree cover.
At this point, you’ll see the incredible shape of Ben Arthur ahead of you. The three jagged peaks of The Cobbler certainly make Ben Arthur one of the most interestingly shaped and recognisable peaks in the Scottish Highlands.
Continue on the trail straight towards Ben Arthur. The trail hugs the right-hand side of the Allt a Bhalachain River. The path here levels slightly, compared with the initial switchbacks, and is a nice section to begin to soak in the incredible scenery.
Soon, you’ll pass an area known as the Narnain Boulders. They are huge rocks that sit at the base of Beinn Narnain, which you’ll pass on your right-hand side. The trail continues to gradually climb, and views within the valley, toward The Cobbler and surrounding Arrochar Alps in Scotland, are wonderful.
The Cobbler Mountain
Eventually, you’ll reach a small fork in the path. Keep right and follow the trail as it leads to the right of and behind Ben Arthur. The left-hand trail at the fork will be your return path.
Soon enough the trail veers to the left, crossing the Allt a Bhalachain. Then begins a steep and steady ascent up the back of The Cobbler, traversing a long section of stone steps. The steps lead to a small ridge between the north peak of Ben Arthur and the central peak. At this ridge, take the main path to the right to reach the summit of Ben Arthur.
At the summit of Ben Arthur is a grassy plateau with outstanding views across the Highlands. Looking south are exceptional views of Loch Long, which is of course, super long! As well, you’ll enjoy great views of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park.
Threading the Needle at The Cobbler
To reach the true summit of The Cobbler, you will need to ‘thread the needle’. This small scramble involves following the trail to the pinnacle you’ll see at the top. Here, you will need to crawl through the hole between the rocks, and then climb up the other side to reach the flat top of the pinnacle. It can be a little challenging and does require a good head for heights and some basic scrambling experience. But fear not, views from the plateau are just as good, so if threading the needle isn’t for you, you don’t miss out on too much.
The south peak of The Cobbler can only be accessed by rock climbers, so just admire views from the summit plateau. You can continue up to the north peak though.
Once you’ve soaked up views from The Cobbler, descend back the way you came to the ridge between the north and central peaks of Ben Arthur. From here, you can then access a small trail leading to the north summit of The Cobbler. The views of the surrounding Arrochar Alps, especially Beinn Narnain are incredible. As too are views down to Glen Croe and The Trossachs. You should be able to spot the ever-popular Ben Lomond, rising to the southeast of The Cobbler summit.
Return to Loch Long
To return, descend back, once again, to the ridge between the north and central peaks. You’ll see a narrow gully and the trail leading down through it. This path is steep and a little rough but gives some new vistas of the mountain and surrounding Glen Croe area. For an easier albeit longer descent, you can also return via the stone steps used to climb up The Cobbler.
As we descended the scrambly route down the south face of The Cobbler, Dan and I saw many groups ascending Ben Arthur this way. Although the most recommended route is the one we’ve described and forms a nice loop too, you can choose to hike Ben Arthur any way you like.
Once back at the fork, re-join the main trail and follow it all the way back down to the car park.
How to Get to The Cobbler, Scotland
Hiking The Cobbler in Scotland is very easy. Its location in the Southern Highlands and proximity to big cities like Glasgow mean it’s in very easy reach for day hikers.
How to Get to The Cobbler From Glasgow?
From Glasgow, the drive time to reach the trail for The Cobbler is one hour. You can essentially follow the A82 all the way up.
It’s also possible to use public transport, though this will double your journey time to two hours, as well as add on some walking time. From Glasgow Queen Street Station, take the Oban train and alight at Arrochar and Tarbet. From here, you will need to walk almost 3km to the trailhead. Alternatively, you could walk into Tarbet and pick up bus 302 heading towards Uig. You can alight close to Succoth Car Park and save yourself the 3km walk. Alternatively, you can take bus 926 all the way from Buchanan Street Station in Glasgow to Arrochar. You can check the train timetable here and bus timetable here.
Of course, driving yourself is by far the most straightforward way to hike The Cobbler in Scotland. If you don’t have access to your own vehicle, then we recommend hiring something. When hiring a car, we always get the ball rolling with a search on RentalCars.com. Booking a car with Rentalcars.com is easy and stress-free, plus they offer an unbeatable free cancellation policy too.
Parking For The Cobbler in Scotland
There are two car parks to choose from when hiking Scotland’s The Cobbler. The closest and most popular car park is at Succoth (view here). This car park is directly opposite the trailhead and is found along the A83 road on the western edge of the village of Succoth.
Dan and I parked at the Loch Long Car Park (view here). This added perhaps an extra 10 minutes onto the hike, but nothing major. Again, this car park is located along the A83, east of Succoth and on the outskirts of Arrochar. Both car parks sit at the northern tip of Loch Long and you can see both on Google Maps. Also, both car parks are pay and display.
When Is the Best Time to Climb The Cobbler, Arrochar?
As with most mountain hikes in Scotland, climbing The Cobbler is best to do during the summer months. These typically span from April–September. During these months, you’re much more likely to have better weather and therefore great views from the mountain summits. But, this is Scotland, so anything is possible really. Summer also brings with it longer days, so you can start or finish your Ben Arthur hike as early or late as you please, avoiding more heavily trafficked times of the day. Because, yes, summer also coincides with the busiest visitor times. And given how easy it is to reach The Cobbler in Scotland, hiking Ben Arthur can and does become a rather busy affair. But, don’t let that put you off at all.
As always, hiking in winter brings its own set of challenges and should only be undertaken by those with snow mountaineering experience and the knowledge to use specialist equipment.
Ben Arthur Weather
Dan and I always check the forecast before embarking on any hike in the Highlands. It’s good practice and always beneficial. You can check the mountain forecast here.
Sleeping in the shadow of the Arrochar Alps is a fabulous introduction to the beauty of the Scottish Highlands. Below, we’ll take a look at the best budget, mid-range and luxury accommodation options in the foothills of The Cobbler, Scotland.
- Budget – Village Inn: the traditionally decorated and cosy lodgings at the Village Inn offer guests incredible views of the Arrochar Alps. There’s a restaurant and bar on-site, as well as a beer garden to enjoy extensive views of Loch Long.
- Mid-range – Glebe Country House Tarbet: the Glebe Country House Tarbet is a beautiful guest house featuring a relaxing shared lounge with superb views of the surrounding Arrochar landscape. The breakfast comes highly rated too!
- Luxury – Ben Arthur’s Bothy: for a home away from home experience in the Arrochar Alps, you might enjoy a stay at Ben Arthur’s Bothy. Although, you’ll likely find this ‘bothy’ a lot more luxe than the traditional types. This fantastic 4-bed apartment sleeps up to eight guests and you can even enjoy a delicious pub meal at the bar below.
Arrochar Alps Camping
Beinglas Campsite and Luss Campsite both offer great camping options close to Scotland’s The Cobbler, as well as other hiking trails to conquer in the Arrochar Alps. Views across Loch Lomond are particularly peaceful. You might also enjoy a more basic stay at Culag Beach, where you can park up for the night or pitch the tent on the stoney shores of the loch.
As with most of Scotland, wild camping is permitted in unenclosed areas, and you’ll find some superb spots in the Arrochar Alps and Glen Croe. However, campers need to follow a standard set of guidelines. These include respecting the countryside and staying safe. Read here for more information on wild camping in Scotland.
Why Is the Cobbler Called The Cobbler?
The Cobbler in Scotland gets its name due to its distinctive shape resembling that of a cobbler bending over his last – a foot-shaped form used by shoemakers to manufacture and repair shoes.
How Difficult Is Scotland’s The Cobbler?
Scotland’s The Cobbler is not a technically difficult trail (unless you choose to add the pinnacle scramble to the hike). That being said, the trail is steep and at 13km long is not an especially short hike. As long as you have some basic fitness and pack plenty of water, you’ll find The Cobbler one of Scotland’s most enjoyable Corbetts to summit. We rate the hike to Ben Arthur as moderate.
Can Children Climb The Cobbler?
This is sometimes better assessed by parents knowing their own children’s abilities. But, to help, we saw plenty of children on the hike to summit Ben Arthur. The trail, although steep, is well laid out and any scrambling or truly steep sections can be easily avoided. Indeed, The Cobbler in Scotland would make a great introductory mountain trek for any child keen on hiking.
How Long Does It Take To Climb The Cobbler?
Climbing The Cobbler in Scotland can take between 3–5 hours.
Other Arrochar Walks
Of course, Ben Arthur AKA The Cobbler isn’t the only stunning mountain to climb in the Arrochar Alps or the Arrochar area for that matter. Below, we’ll take a look at a few other options to truly soak in this spectacular part of Scotland and enjoy even more great views across Glen Croe, Loch Lomond and beyond.
- Ben Lomond: easily one of Scotland’s most popular hikes, and for good reason. Hiking Ben Lomond (guide coming soon) is a challenging hike with spectacular views across Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, the Arrochar Alps and over toward Glen Croe. If you’re up for the challenge, you can even hike Ben Lomond after Ben Arthur, like us wild hikers!
- Beinn Narnain: a rough and rocky ascent awaits those wanting to bag this Arrochar Alps Munro. Beinn Narnain can also be combined with the tallest mountain in the Arrochar Alps – Beinn Ìme.
- Glen Loin Loop: a long walk through glens and corries that offer some truly fine views of the Arrochar Alps peaks. The Glen Loin Loop is an easy walk in stunning Scottish countryside.
- Beinn Luibhean: a splendid hike up and through Glen Croe leads to the more underrated peak of Beinn Luibhean. This mountain can be hiked as an out and back or a much longer loop.
Five Hiking Essentials
These are our five hiking gear essentials for The Cobbler in Scotland! For a more extensive hiking gear list, check out our 66 Travel Accessories That You Must Travel With. Alternatively, for a general summary of everything you’d need for a hiking trip to Scotland, visit our Ultimate Packing Checklist.
Why do you need this?
See it in action
These hiking boots were superb for hikes in the Scottish Highlands.
This camera is the best compact digital camera on the market. Lightweight, compact and durable, the Sony Cybershot RX100 VII takes great photos and high-quality 4K videos
Always pack a rain jacket when hiking in the UK, you just never know when it might be called for
A great backpack for hiking in Scotland, which has plenty of space to store all of your gear without feeling bulky
The DJI Mavic Air 2 is an awesome drone that takes world-class aerial footage. We loved using ours in the Scottish Highlands
You should also pack water, snacks and sunscreen.
- Midge Watch: beware that in summer, you’ll be greeted by many midges atop The Cobbler and on the trail too for that matter. So, you may not have much time to stay still and relax as the swarm of midges starts to attack you! Incredibly, there’s Midge Watch, so you can keep track of the pesky little flies out and about. Additionally, we found buying a Smidge Net completely game-changing!
- Early start: as mentioned, The Cobbler is an extremely popular hike in Scotland. Start early or aim for a nice sunset hike to beat the crowds.
- Glen Croe Lookout: one of the most impressive viewpoints in the Arrochar Alps is the Rest & Be Thankful stop on the A83 road leading through Glen Croe. A stone carved with the inscription was erected there after the winding road was completed around 1749. It’s well worth a stop!
- Arrochar add-ons: for some guided tours of other incredible places to visit around the Arrochar Alps and Loch Lomond, check out some of these fantastic trips on Get Your Guide.
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