Saturday 6th June, I met my walking buddy Janice and her wee 4 legged pal Coco in Drymen and we headed up the west side of Loch Lomond, turning left at Tarbet.
The Succoth carpark is easily spotted on the left after leaving Arrochar and costs a £1 (check up to date prices) for the day, Monday to Sunday. A stop in Arrochar for a pre-walk loo break is recommended as there are no facilities at the carpark. Having parked Harvey in a shady spot, we gathered our things and headed across the road to the well-signed path.
The path zig-zags up the south-east side of the corbett with a wide and well-worn path being our guide. Slowly ascending, the stunning views of an early morning Ben Lomond were behind us while we were serenaded by the Arrochar Church bells. The true early birds were already passing us coming down with envious muscular legs and golden tans. While we climbed, so did the temperature and we promise ourselves the next walk would start around 6am or earlier.
Coco enjoying the adventure
Continuing to zig-zag, you will reach a junction with a bench. Sit down. Take a picture of Ben Lomond and breathe in the view.
Ben Lomond and Loch Long
Turn left, then the next right. That’s the only time you could possibly go off route.
And there’s our challenge for the day – The Cobbler
Looking back towards Ben Lomond again
Now, when you come to this point…
We took the ‘easy’ path on the right. Although Janice is ridiculously super fit, me, not so much and she didn’t want to return a broken friend back home. We were told the right path was easiest. Plenty of people took the left path, children too. I don’t know if they had been that way previously and until the next time, I won’t be able to give you more info on how difficult that route is. Climbers overtook us armed with ropes and various ‘kit’ hook thingys… Judging by the side of the hill, I can only presume they were taking the 3rd, more direct vertical option!
The majority of the climb is gentle to moderate. And then you hit this stage…
It killed me. I took it slow stopping every 2 minutes or so to catch my breath. 3 minutes from the top, I was knackered and felt totally deflated. I sat down for a couple of minutes to find meaning, drank water and sat. Still… That was enough. I skipped the rest of the way up. Be kind to yourself. If you want to stop. Bloody stop! And then continue. It’s not a race, take your time.
Click an image below to enlarge…
It’s very sociable at the top of Ben Arthur and I although I’ve only climbed about 6 hills, I would say the friendliest of them all. Someone offered midge repellent; another gave Coco a bowl of water and offers of map reading help and hill spotting were given. Small things can sometimes mean the most and I felt honoured that these fellow hill walkers became temporary friends.
There’s more to explore at the top and plenty of opportunities to find your own space.
We weren’t brave enough to ‘thread the needle’ and after a quick lunch and keek through ‘Argyle’s eyeglass’ we began our descent. Is it just me who thinks this looks like a couple gazing adoringly at each other…?
While we greeted everyone with a cheery acknowledgement, several chat stops were made with this one being the most memorable. We had the pleasure of meeting Ian Russell and Kai. In December 2014 at Ayr train station, gentle Shar-Pei, Kai was left tied to railings with a suitcase containing his pillow, bowl and toy. The Scottish SPCA took Kai in and a Just Giving page was set up to raise money for costly surgery to his eyelids. Kai’s story went viral and caught the attention of Ian who contacted the SPCA directly with an offer of financial help. Over 200 offers of adoption came from around the world; Kai was nearly as famous as Paddington Bear, suitcase and all!
Ian kept in touch with the SPCA saying if Kai couldn’t be rehomed, he would gladly help. Fast forward a few weeks where they met for the first time. Bandanas were exchanged, a new friendship was formed and off they walked into the sunset. I do like a happy ending…
We welcomed a quick paddle and sandwich at this little dam. The peace was rudely broken by an inconsiderate dog owner that brought his hairy mutt to the water for stick fetching games. Which was fine. Until he got out and shook water over all the weary wanderers and their possessions. Shoes, snacks and faces were drenched. And they continued to do that until everyone left.
Views at all stages of the walk were stunning. It’s no wonder film crews from around the world come and set up base here. Its awe inspiring. Romantic. Moody. Menacing. Foreboding. All these things rolled in to one glance.
Although I ‘like’ waking, you’ll be surprised to hear I don’t love it. What I do love are those spectacular views; views I’ve never seen before and views I will never see again. I shall compare it to childbirth. Let’s face it, having babies is sore, f***ing sore but the prize you are given you cannot compare to anything else. And the pain is quickly forgotten…
Never be put off by having never walked before. There are walkers of all ages and levels just ‘getting out’. Being part part of someone else’s journey and experience whether they be first time walkers or those 4am hill runners is a real eye opener. We met adventurers from all ‘walks’ of life. A matching-t-shirt-wearing stag do , families, tourists and solitary walkers. We all have the same goal: to make the most of life.