As the opportunity arose for a last minute cheeky wee day off, coupled with a good overall forecast from MWIS, and the fact my two mates were also off meant there was no other option than to spend the day in the hills. But where? I was still a bit wary of our failed attempt on Ben Cruachan due to lying snow blocking the path. A frantic search of possible mountains and research of the most recent walk reports on Walkhighlands.com saw us decide to venture West to the Arrochar alps. To tackle Beinn Narnain & Beinn Ime, where by all accounts little snow remained. As it’s a good 90min – 2 hour drive depending on traffic from Perth resulted in another early alarm call. We arrived at the large Succoth car park on the shores of Loch Long by around 8.45 and were soon on the hill thereafter.
The ascent starts almost immediately from the car park, we elected to follow the ‘zig-zag’ path up to the landrover track rather than take the very direct route straight up through the undergrowth which looked very wet and overgrown. However, should I get my way we would soon be rejoining the same path further up the hill to head straight up Beinn Narnain. There had been some discussion the previous evening about whether we should take the Cobbler path to the bealach between the two Munros and ascend the North West face of Narnain, the conventional descent route path. This of course meant there would be no need for any of the mild scrambling or minimal exposure encountered by taking the recognised route, not a favourite pastime of one of the trio !
As we continued our ascent we were treated to excellent views down the length of Loch Long over towards the Isle of Bute and Arran in the West. The Munro of Ben Vane to the East. After a bit of a slog up the very wet and boggy path we reached the first of the easy scrambling sections, made only slightly more treacherous as the rock was wet underfoot. To be honest though, the most danger to any of the party was flailing walking poles, as I was too lazy to put them away when I had to start putting my hands on the rock! From here the views over to the Cobbler (Ben Arthur) really started to open up. The queues already starting to build for those waiting their turn to 'thread the needle', from our viewpoint they resembled a line of ants heading back to their nest. I was quite taken aback with just how busy these hills were for a Wednesday morning.
Throughout the climb towards Cruach nam Miseag my two companions started, led in truth by the non-scrambler, to give me pelters about the rough terrain and how much easier the the alternative route would've been in comparison. In fact it was suggested on multiple occassions that the other route was so easy underfoot that it could have been completed in flip-flops !! Such was the number of references made that the Arrochar alps will forever, in my mind, remain synonymous with bloody flip-flops !! There was a brief heart sinking moment when we reached a small descent before heading up to the prominent rock outcrop of the 'Spearhead'. However, only minimal height is lost.
The route up past the Spearhead means negotiating a narrow path which passes up to the right of the main buttress. This follows a rock-filled gully which requires a little more hands on action. This gully was was repeatedly referred to by the non-scrambler, in between quips about life insurance and what his wife might do to me at his funeral should he meet his maker on the ascent, as a 'chute'. In his mind a chute was far more dramatic and exotic than a plain old gully ! A cairn atop the Spearhead was initially mistaken as the summit, however, as you reach the plateau there is a clear path to an attractive trig point marking the actual summit. The views in all directions were amazing, down Loch Long especially and of course to Ben Lomond and the Cobbler which both remain prominent features throughout this walk. 1 down, 1 to go.
After we had finished admiring the views on the windless summit, and had had a wee bite to eat it was time to be on our way towards Beinn Ime, our second Munro and the highest in the Arrochar alps, which surely meant the summit would be an even more spectacular viewpoint. Ime is literally right in front of you and in the good conditions we had posed absolutely no navigational problems. The initial descent from Narnain follows a narrow path through a small rocky section before you head down on grassy, if relatively steep paths towards the bealach. The straightforward nature of the descent predictably triggered further comments suggesting that had we ascended on this path we could have ditched the flip-flops and brought out the slippers and smoking jackets !! Oh how they laughed ! In truth for the most part of the descent to, and up from the bealach towards Ime, wellies would probably have been the best choice of footwear !
The ascent up Ime is a long one, with around four hundred metres to climb after dropping to the bealach. As we continually cast glances towards the Cobbler on the way up there seemed no end to those waiting on their photo opportunities. The Cobbler is indeed a mighty popular wee Corbett. The sound of a raging stream filled the ears as we climbed, which left us somewhat discombobulated as there is no obvious source of the crescendo. The stream in actual fact is little more than a trickle but due to some acoustic trickery, to the ears resembles Niagra falls ! soon we reached the small patches of snow remaining on the slope, I had taken up the pace at this point and didn't notice that my companions had decided to stop for a quick chocolate break. I marched on oblivious, you'd think I'd have noticed my ears had stopped bleeding ! Quickly I found myself alone at the summit. Again there was no wind and the anticipated views did not disappoint. When I was eventually joined by my 2 companions they remarked how it was possible to see both the East and West coasts from our vantage point. The area around the summit is relatively small, no doubt due to the very steep and rocky slopes adorning 3 sides of Ime. Easy to forget as you slip and splash your way up the broad slope.
The descent is back the way we came, down the sodden path to the bealach. Here you can choose to join the masses with a clear path up the Cobbler. We decided we'd done enough for one day and continued on our way down the now excellent path. The sun was now beating down and I for one was extremely thankful we were not starting out on our ascent. We quickly passed the imposing Narnain boulders and reached the small dam in no time. Of course the excellent path drew more flip-flop references and a proposition that perhaps a market stall selling said items at the start of the route would not be a bad business venture....oh the banter ! Finally a steepish decent through a small forrested section sees you back at the top of the zig-zagged path which we wearily followed back to the car park, 6 and a half hours since we left it. A great day with great company, created laughs and memories which will not be forgotten quickly. Although perhaps the funniest suggestion of the day came from Paul (non-scrambler) who clearly buoyed by his very mild scrambling and 'chute' conquering success proclaimed our next outing should be the Ring of Steall !! Perhaps we should leave it a week or two mate, give your mrs time to up the insurance payments !!
My Walk Reports
Ben Lomond (no walk report)
Stob na Broige
Bidean Nam Bian
Braigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain
Cairn of Claise
Carn An Tuirc
Carn Liath (Beinn a'Ghlo)
Carn nan Gabhar
Stob Coire Raineach
Stob Coire Sgreamhach
Meall nan Tarmachan (no walk report)
Meall Chuaich (no walk report)
Geal Charn (no walk report)
(no walk report)
(no walk report)
Beinn Udlamain (no walk report)
Meall Garbh (Carn Marig)
Geal Charn (Monadhliath)
(no walk report)
Meall Corranaich (no walk report)
Meall a'Choire Leith (no walk report)
Beinn an Dothaidh
Ben Vorlich (Loch Lomond)
Carn Mor Dearg
A'Bhuidheanach Bheag (no report)
Stuchd an Lochain
Glas Bheinn Mhor
Stob Coire Sgriodain
Stob Coire Easain
Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin
Stob a'Choire Odhair
Ben Cruachan (updated report)
Carn Liath (Creag Meagaidh)
Stob Poite Coire Ardair (no walk report)
Creag Meagaidh (no walk report)