Into the (Arrochar) Alps…..

It was a welcome return visit to the head of Loch Long, the last twice I’d cycled in to the Arrochar area via Kilcreggan, the last was a left and up over the Rest and Be Thankful, the other a right turn across to Loch Lomond. I’d last been into the Arrochar Alps three years earlier when the iconic the Cobbler was the hill of choice.

I’d asked Lora if she fancied a hill over the weekend and due to the WX, plans were left but Sunday evening, a photo produced and ‘That one, please’, Narnain it was then. I had to hurriedly look out and get my radio equipment ready as the days of having a ready-to-go pack seemed over.

Check, double-check, mentally putting up the mast and antenna, connections and it looked all ready to go, handhelds to finish charging. I had packed everything, charged by early AM..

Loch Long

Loch Long

Waking up to a cloudy sky which soon cleared to show patches of blue, and off we headed.

Arriving at the roadside car park outside Arrochar, there were many cars already parked, the early birds were out. I’d alerted for around 12.30 local but was running late for once. oh, and a quid for parking? excellent, hats off to Argyll & Bute Council.

We’d stopped to pick up lunch (and another coffee) en-route at Dumbarton.

Off we set in sunshine, the first mile and just over 1,000 feet of ascent through the lower steep treeline, being passed by a pair of runners whom we would see later on the summit. Soon, we were on the open hillside, the view as you emerge for the treeline is one to enjoy, the high cliffs of Narnain on your right and the impressive faces of the Cobbler to your left, it made the hot slog through the breezeless forest worthwhile as a fair breeze was blowing down the Allt a’ Bhalachain which made for a pleasurable ascent along a well made and kept path.

The Cobbler from the ascent

The Cobbler from the ascent

A short break at the Narnain Stones, the ‘sleeping quarters’ of some of the early climbers to the area,  a drink and off up to the bealach where ‘tracks’ to the three hills merge, the Cobbler path was busy and the odd walker could be spotted ascending the highest hill, Beinn Ime. We took the first path up Narnain with over 900ft still to ascend, slowly over a varied broken path, with boggy stony patches everywhere. Soon we were making our way through a fallen stone field, it levelled, the stone shelter and the trig point let us know we had arrived at the flattish rock strewn summit. Narnain means ‘Hill of notches’ in Gaelic. The views today were excellent in all directions as on my last visit in 2012, I had ascended in poor visibility due to the clag being down, I had one fleeting glimpse down Loch Long that day but the return trip made up for it. There are too many hills on the horizon to mention so have a look HERE. I use the app which is handy when just on even local hills.

Beinn an Lochain, Luibhean and Binnein an Fhidlheir

Beinn an Lochain, Luibhean and Binnein an Fhidhleir

I found a grassy spot, set up the radio equipment and thought I have a better look after I’d finished. I first called out on 4m FM and surprisingly worked 2 stations, MTJ and USI, Paisley and mobile in Glasgow. I kept calling but nothing, between calls I built up the 3 element quad. A quick changeover of antennas and I logged another 10 contacts on 2m, Rob YTS on Tinto, YMM and AXY through in Edinburgh, UYE in Stirling, HQC Largs, KSJ Wemyss Bay, ROT Port Glasgow, next were two contacts into Northern Ireland, AZA and AZB both on Loughermore in the Sperrin Mountains, finally IPO in Knightswood, Glasgow. I’ll take that, 12 contacts on a weekday isn’t shoddy. 3 were STS (summit to summit), excellent. I’d normally have a break and try again but when I’m with someone non-radio orientated I can’t spend too much time but I’d been on air for over an hour. I sat and took in the view down Loch Long, Ailsa Craig stood out in the far distance over 100 kms away. Time for lunch, a certain bakery ‘tuna crunch baguette’ was enjoyed, Bob is going through a calorie conscious time in his now later life, a target has been set and hopefully the ‘Mhor’ can be renamed.  I wonder what the gaelic for ‘slightly less than big’ is. I’ll never achieve a pro cyclists body shape.. but I’m doing fine.

Looking down the Loch

Looking down the Loch


With everything packed away it was time to take took a wander around the summit plateau, snapping the views. Dark clouds were now scuttling above us, it was time to descend as light rain had been forecast for late afternoon. We retraced our steps and not long were at the bealach and turning down the Allt.

Ascent panorama

Ascent panorama

I knew of a geocache at the Narnain Stones HERE so it was a stop and soon we found the container, the log signed and placed back in its hidey hole, no. 275 logged.

Bob and Lora

Bob and Lora

As we dropped into the treeline, the first spits of rain started and it was a steady walk down, this area is midge heaven and I didn’t want to stop for I’d be eaten alive by the wee beasties.

There are other routes up Narnain, the traditional direct one from the car park, which takes you past the well-known ‘Spearhead’, some light scrambling required HERE

I was glad to reach the car, I must work on lightening the load, age? lack of fitness? I dunno. Boots off and trainers on, relief!

An hour plus later, we were home, a coffee poured.

A great day out, pleasant company and with views this time, happy? yeah.

Oh, I’ve still more images to sort out so pay another visit and see what else there is.

Beinn Narnain info HERE

Interesting article on climbing history in the area (mostly the Cobbler) HERE

My previous posts in the immediate area HERE HERE HERE

As usual, click on each image to embiggen


About gm7something

64, married, three kids......overweight, unfit, folically challenged, need I go on ?
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