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Looking down on Arrochar from the top of the Pipeline Track
Looking down on Arrochar from the top of the Pipeline Track on a cloudy and windy day (note the flying heather on the upper left)
Country: Scotland.
Location: Loch Long
Accommodation: There is a hotel and camping ground in the village of Arrochar.
Transport: The A814 road runs along the head of Loch Long and connects to the A82(T) road between Glasgow and Fort William. There is a railway station at Tarbet less than 2 kilometres from Arrochar. Buses also stop here.
Maps: Landranger Map 0056: Loch Lomond & Inveraray
Trip Date: 31 May 1993
Also See:
Beinn Narnain A panoramic view from Beinn Narnain to Beinn Ime.
Beinn Ime A massive panoramic view from Beinn Ime.
Introduction

The rugged and rocky peak of Beinn Ime (butter hill, 1101m) is hidden behind three other fine peaks: the Munro of Beinn Narnain (meaning unknown, 926m), The Cobbler (actually Ben Arthur) and A'Chrois - another rocky hill to the NE of Beinn Narnain. The area north of Loch Long and west of the head of Loch Lomond is known as the Arrochar Alps. The "alpine" nature of these hills is obvious when their craggy outlines are viewed from across Loch Lomond. Inversnaid and Rowardennan in particular have a good views and are on the West Highland Way.

Route

The usual route to bag these peaks starts at the very head of Loch Long where a minor road turns off to Succoth and Glen Loin. There is parking space next to the road. The path heads steeply uphill to the NW through the forest. A series of large concrete blocks are passed along the way. These were used during the construction of the Loch Sloy Dam for either a railway track (SMC Munro Guide) or a pipeline (I think I got this from an information board at the start of the path). The path crosses over a forest road after climbing about 100 metres and emerges from the forest after another climb of 50 metres.

The summit cairn of Beinn Narnain
The summit cairn of Beinn Narnain with another tramper and my day pack

Continue up the open hillside until the top of the track is reached and it turns to sidle across the slopes to the left. However we head straight on (NW) on a well-worn path, immediately clambering around a couple of small crags. More grassy slopes are climbed for a short while. Crags appear as the path approaches Cruach nam Miseag and there are a couple of rocky knobs to skirt before the top of the main knob is reached.

There is a bit of relief from the climbing as a small dip is crossed to the final steep, rocky slopes. Follow the thin path through a few small crags and to the base of the Spearhead, a prominent rock prow on the skyline above you. Sidle along the base to the right (north) to clamber up a rough gully and gain the level stony plateau of Beinn Narnain. The summit is marked by a trig point about 100 metres to the west. From the lochside you have climbed 950 metres over 3 kilometres and should have arrived in time for a morning break (2.5 hours from the road).

The views from this summit and those from Beinn Ime are great. However you will have to check them out at one of the links above since I was in thick cloud and strong wind (see all the photos on this page) for most of the day.

The summit cairn of Beinn Ime
My day pack, mascot (PW the kiwi) and the summit cairn of Beinn Ime

The route to Beinn Ime starts WNW from the summit cairn and passes through a small boulder field down to a wide grassy ridge. The ridge drops quickly over a kilometre to the broad level col of Bealach a'Mhaim and a good stile over the fence that crosses the col. A long grassy (fairly boring) slope leads NNW from the fence, climbing 300m until close to a knob on one end of Ben Ime's summit ridge. The knob is avoided by traversing leftwards to the ridge itself and then there remains a gentle climb up to the top. The summit crag sports a large cairn which comes in handy as a windbreak especially when I was there.

Return back to the col where you can return the way you came. A better option is to head horizontally south for a few hundred metres to the col at the head of the Allt a'Bhalachain (the Buttermilk Burn). Go SE across the boggy bealach to meet a path on the NE side of the stream. This can be followed all the way down past the Narnain Boulders (some escapees from the crags above) to a weir and then either to the right to meet the uphill route or on a zigzag path downhill to the starting point.

This route also gives you the option to bag The Cobbler. About halfway down the stream (500 metres before the boulders), the well-trod path coming up the valley crosses the stream and heads up the slopes of Ben Arthur. The path uses a gully to avoid crags to each side and then rises steeply onto the top of more crags with a knoll to the north. There are some rocky, near-vertical sections here. The summit is off to the south along a ridge and is easily recognised by the rock stack that gives the mountain its common name. This can be carefully scrambled up for marvellous panoramas. Return by the same route.

If you have already climbed The Cobbler and want some fresh territory then there is an alternative route from Bealach a'Mhaim. I found this by accident on my way back from Beinn Ime when I bent too far south in the heavy cloud and ended up above the valley to the north of The Cobbler. Do not cross the fence, instead head SW from the col. This takes you into the unnamed valley - aim to keep to the north of its stream. Soon a good path forms and you have an enjoyable stroll down to the B83 road alongside the enchanting waterfalls in the stream. At the road turn south (away from the intriguingly named "Rest and be thankful" at the top of Glen Croe) and walk down the glen for 2 kilometres. The road can be followed all the way back to Succoth or a forest road can be taken here for a gentle climb up and around to the uphill route.


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