Ben Lomond is one of the most popular Munros, rewarding the 30,000 people who make it to the top with fantastic views of the length of Loch Lomond and far into the hills to the north and the Trossachs to the east. The route has been well made, however the optional return down the Ptarmigan ridge can be muddy and is rocky in places making the going more difficult in poor visibility.
Clear path with some rocky sections on the alternative rougher return route. As with all mountain walks, full hillwalking clothing and equipment must be carried. If there is snow on the route this includes an ice-axe and crampons.
NB. Hillwalking when there is snow on the hills requires an ice-axe, crampons and winter skills and experience.
4.5 - 5.5 hours
Rowardennan car park
No public transport to start of walk. It is possible to take the ferry from Tarbet Pier to Rowardennan,
regular buses to Inverbeg from Glasgow and Balloch.
Open Traveline Scotland
1. Start from the car park at Rowardennan where there is an information centre and toilets. The mountain is not in view from the car park but can be seen from the metal jetty on the loch shore. The ascent starts from a clearly marked path at the back of the information building. Climb steadily, through oak woods to start with and then through an area of cleared forestry where only the few silver birch trees remain at present. There are plans to regenerate the natural woodland along this stretch of the lochside and the felling seen here is part of that plan. After a short while cross a track and continue on the uphill path.
2. Cross a small bridge and soon there are the first views of part of Loch Lomond. Pass through a gate onto the open hill where cattle and sheep graze. The path continues to climb at a steady gradient, the views of the Loch becoming more impressive with each step. Pass through another gate. By the 1990s this section of the path had been eroded until it formed a scar up to 25 metres wide, visible from Glasgow. The National Trust then began a program of repairs and the current, excellent path is only a couple of metres wide. The ground becomes less steep and the final peak comes into view with the prominent zig-zag of the path visible on the right hand side.
3. Keep following the path as it sticks to the broad ridge of the mountain. There are good views of the islands in Loch Lomond behind. The path climbs steeply on the final ascent to the summit ridge before levelling off to curve to the left around the rim of the very impressive eastern corrie which has been hidden until this point.
4. From the summit trig point there are stunning views in all directions, particularly of the southern end of Loch Lomond and its islands. It is rare to be alone at the top, as this is one of Scotland's favourite mountains, popular with visitors and locals including fell runners who make numerous ascents in a year. The easiest and most usual route back is to retrace your outward route, but there is a rougher alternative.
5. For the alternative, harder descent, rocky path north-west from the summit to descend very steeply to a col before climbing south-west to Ptarmigan at 731 metres. From here the route follows the nobbly ridge for much of the descent with excellent views down Loch Lomond. Approximately half way down the ridge, the distinctive shape of the Cobbler comes into view alongside the other peaks of the Arrochar Alps on the far side of the Loch to the west. There is a clear path although it is narrow and rocky in places. The wettest areas have been improved with large stepping stones. About two-thirds of the way down the path leaves the true ridge to descend below crags and continue on a direct route towards Rowardennan.
6. The path passes through a gate and descends more steeply. Before reaching some trees at the top of the woodland bear left to go through another gate and descend alongside the burn. After an open gateway there is a good view of a waterfall. Continue down through the woods until the road is reached. Turn left here and walk along the road passing behind the Youth Hostel. For the last section it is possible to take the path to the right along the shore. This passes a modern war memorial sculpture by Doug Cocker of Dundee. Ben Lomond and its slopes going down to the loch have been dedicated as a Memorial Park to commemorate those who have lost their lives for their country. From the memorial continue round the shore a short distance to return to the car park.
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