Ben Lomond is one of the most popular Munros in Scotland, climbed by locals and visitors from all over the world. Standing on the east shore of Loch Lomond, it reaches 3193ft (974m) high and lies not far from us here at Knockderry Hotel (although due to the picturesque route, it will probably take you about an hour and 45 minutes to drive there).
As well as being one of the most popular Munros, it is also the most southerly in Scotland. There are a number of walking routes around Ben Lomond, including some low-level family-friendly trails and of course the more arduous route to the summit of Ben Lomond. The Ranger Centre at Ardess and the information centre at the Rowardennan car park have details of these.
The Walk to the Summit of Ben Lomond
The route to the summit has been well made and is said to be the easiest to climb of all the Munros. Although, due to the heavy footfall over the years, some parts of the trail are showing signs of wear and tear, so take care. The optional return route down the Ptarmigan ridge can be muddy and rocky in places making the going more difficult. The walk, in total, is about 7.5 miles ( 12 kilometres) long and takes, on average, between 4.5-5.5 hours.
A route map and walk description can be downloaded from Walk Highlands.
From the carpark at Rowardennan (there is a charge to park), the path makes its way through oak woodland, which is dancing with bluebells in early spring. You may see some tree felling work in progress here, but this is part of a woodland regeneration project. The path continues up the hill and out above the woodland. Crossing a small bridge, it is from here that you will have your first glimpses of Loch Lomond. Continue up and along the ridge of the mountain – on a clear day the views of the islands in Loch Lomond are amazing. The final ascent is steep but you will be rewarded with 360-degree views.
Whichever route you choose, always be mindful of the weather and your own walking experience. Ensure that you have appropriate footwear and clothing and a supply of water and snacks to keep you fuelled during the walk. This is also a sheep farming area, so please keep your dog under control at all times.
Please note that walking on Ben Lomond in the winter poses its own challenges and should really only be attempted by experienced walkers with crampons, ice axes and the knowledge and skills to use them safely.
The History surrounding Ben Lomond
Ben Lomond is managed by the National Trust for Scotland and their ranger service is based at Ardess Lodge, about 600 metres north of the Rowardennan car park. The rangers do a variety of work on the hill, including path repair and maintenance; vegetation monitoring to guide grazing management; fencing work to give woodland regeneration a chance; guided walks and activities, and lots more.
Pick up a map from the ranger centre and look out for Horses Muir, Faery Hill and Raven’s Knoll – the names of local natural features giving a glimpse into Ben Lomond’s history.
Once you have completed your hike and marvelled at the incredible view from the top, why not head back to Knockderry for lunch or dinner, and sample some fantastic Scottish food while enjoying yet more spectacular west coast scenery.