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Guest blog: The Chronicles of Narnain

Written by Fiona May 11 2011

My new guest blogger is David McKay. Known to me as Cuptie (I’m not sure I know why!), he has been a journo colleague and friend for many years. Until recently I had no idea that David loved hill walking. He’s normally an office-based sub-editor and I had imagined his time off was spent reading, eating lovely food and drinking a little (no offence Cuptie!). Then I spotted him chatting about his walking adventures on Facebook. So, of course, I asked him to give me a wee report on his latest walk.

Guest blogger: David "Cuptie" McKay

David has written me his own biography: “I’m too fat, forty-something and frequently frazzled by work, so I often find myself in need of a nice long walk. I’m no serious hill-bagger, as my lifetime Munro total (six) will tell you. But there’s nothing better for me than being outside, in beautiful nature, with somewhere nice to tramp to and a tasty sandwich to eat when I get there…”

Here he writes about his walk to the summit of Beinn Narnain

I feel a fraud writing about doing a Munro. I’m not a Munro-doer. I hate exposure, the thought of a knife-edge ridge is a dagger to my heart, and scrambling in my world is what you do with an egg when there’s nothing else in the fridge.

I do love getting out in the wilds, preferably with no one else around, and taking some much-needed exercise in the wonderful hills Glasgow’s blessed to have on its doorstep. I just like both my feet on a friendly path while I’m doing it.

Which brings me to Beinn Narnain, dowdy next-door neighbour of Glesga’s best-beloved mountain.

Everybody loves The Cobbler. But the trouble with a hill everybody loves is that everybody’s on it. Doing the Cobbler can be like Sauchiehall Street on a Saturday, while Narnain languishes, often unnoticed, on t’other side of the glen. So give it a try, thought I. Just take the Cobbler path to do it.

According to the guide books, the direct path up Narnain from the Succoth car park includes “the narrow Spearhead ridge” and “mild scrambling” – a term I find as trustworthy as “compassionate Conservatism”. So that was out. But for the lazy/craven walker (like me), there’s a sneaky back way. Just head up to the start of the Cobbler steps and turn right instead of left.

This offers all the dramatic “Land That Time Forgot” scenery of the terrific Cobbler path (tedious early zig-zaggery excepted), plus an interesting and uncrowded new destination. In good visibility – and I wouldn’t try it in anything else unless you know your stuff – the Narnain path is easily followed round to the right from the foot of the Cobbler steps. Not too steep, scary or taxing, but the lower parts clearly have boggy tendencies.

The hill gets rocky higher up. The rough path is faint in places and there’s a very brief section of boulders to cross just before the summit plateau (3038ft). But I never felt over-stretched or not safe, so the vast majority of hill-going folk should be fine on it. The top of Narnain is a wide, flat, rocky moonscape, and the views on the gorgeous April day I chose were pants-wettingly fantastic.

Loch Long wends off dreamily to the sea, Ben Lomond is pointy perfection, Beinn Ime looms impressively to the north and I thought I recognised Schiehallion (bet it wasn’t) in the distance. But the best thing about the view was: I was the only one looking at it.

That’s what’s nice about Narnain. Go on a weekday and you might get it all to yourself.

Hard cases could combine it with Ime to make a long double-bagging day of it, but enjoying the Cobbler path down again was plenty for me. Four and a half hours all in, including 25 minutes of summit view-ogling while scoffing Cadbury‘s Mini-Eggs, and a healthy dose of smugness at the end.

After all, you start this baby from sea level, so I’d earned it!

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