Complex, steep and with impressive profiles, it�s clear to see why the compact group of peaks just west of Arrochar get the name �Arrochar Alps�. They have all the characteristics of their grander European namesakes save for the permanent snows and glaciers.
Mostly these randomly positioned peaks are climbed individually, with out-and-back routes up their respective corries proving the most popular. This is probably due to the way they look on the map. The linking ridges are cut by deep cols, and the connections between mountains either are not obvious at first glance or look too much like hard work.
Careful scrutiny however will reveal that walk-able terrain exists between peaks, thus making a complete tour of these fine mountains possible.
There is no getting away from the fact that a full tour of these mountains is a big day and if you are sensible, you will restrict yourself to making it an unashamedly Munro-bagging outing. This means ignoring The Cobbler, which just falls short of the magic 3,000ft contour. Somehow though that seems reasonable: geographically it is clearly one of the group but its iconic status and overwhelming popularity give it an altogether different character � thus making it easy to leave out of the equation (the other peaks have a much lonelier and wilder feel).
Beinn Narnain is the first one to tackle. You do have the choice of engaging it first and gaining some height, or setting off through the ranks of trees down Glen Loin to reach the interior peaks of Ben Vane or Beinn Ime. But its friendly profile as seen from the start on the shores of Loch Long is hard to resist. This also leaves the long but easy forest tracks until the end of the day when your tired legs will most appreciate them.
A scrambling approach can be made up the south-east ridge over Cruach nam Miseag to Beinn Narnain, but it�s a hell of a slog to start with so take the well-trodden path through the forest then contour around to the weir on the Allt a Bhalach. This gets you into the fine corrie below The Cobbler, from where a sneaky side route gets you up beside the tributary that heads north from the Narnain Boulders to the high col just below the summit of Beinn Narnain. The summit requires a bit of scrambling, but nothing too hard, just a bit of a warm-up that pleasantly unlocks the door to the main Munros of the Arrochar Alps.
Set before you is the inner sanctum of the range. From your lofty perch your route lies first down the north-west ridge to Bealach a�Mhaim (a good place to bail out if the weather turns) then up the broad south ridge of Beinn Ime. Things then get a bit more exposed with a descent of Beinn Ime�s north-east ridge high above Coiregrogain. This gets you down to the glen floor from where the western side of Ben Vane�s south face is climbed. Ben Vane�s long crest is the last summit, so savour its views. The south-east ridge gives a steady descent, and the forest tracks in Coiregrogain can be picked up and followed in a loop around the glen to connect with the final leg down the length of Glen Loin.
Maps: OS Explorer (1:25,000) OL39, OS Landranger (1:50,000) 56, Harvey Superwalker (1:25,000) Arrochar Alps