(For the best viewing experience, left-click the images and maps to zoom in to a new window, then exit that window to go back – go on, it really does work!)
I’ve mentioned in earlier posts that I’m a creature of habit, and most of my trips to the mountains of the Scottish Highlands follow the same route up country. On my first visit, a long long time ago, I travelled via the A84 through Callander to Lochearnhead, the A85 through Crianlarich and Tyndrum then the A82 to Glencoe and beyond, and to travel any other way just seems odd – well it does to me anyway. So, that’s the way I usually go.
I’ve returned south via the A82 on the west side of Loch Lomond on a handful of occasions, but that way takes you via Glasgow, which a poor finish to a Highland trip. What’s more, until a couple of years ago, I had never turned off the A84 to the Trossachs and the east side of Loch Lomond. So, the autumn 2020 trip to Scotland was a good chance to fill in that gap, which is exactly what we did.
After years of being “not really bothered about going to the top”, Chris had become a ‘born again’ Munro bagger after her day on Meal nan Tarmachan (see post #292), so another Munro ascent before heading south seemed like a good plan. At a height of 974 metres (3195 ft), Ben Lomond fitted the bill nicely – what’s more, it is one of the most popular Munros in Scotland, so a good one for Chris to tick off.
Setting out from Rowardennan on the shores of Loch Lomond, the first part of the route is through forest, which isn’t much good for impressive views. Once out of the trees, things open up a bit, but most of the views are down to Loch Lomond, with the summit of Ben Lomond out of sight for most of the way up. As there’s little to measure progress against, there seems to be quite a bit of uphill, but steady away gets you there eventually.
On our trip, the final summit ridge was clouded over, which effectively killed the views. Chris and Border Collie ‘Mist’ posed for a summit photo before we turned round to head back by the same route through the mizzle and drizzle. Photos of the ridge in good weather show a far more interesting scene than the one we had, wrapped up in a big cloud.
Going down was pretty much the same as going up, with the views to Loch Lomond and the Trossachs opening up as we left the clouds behind us. Perhaps Ben Lomond won’t get your pulses racing with excitement but it’s a good day out and its proximity to Glasgow and the central belt of Scotland makes it a favourite with many hikers. Try to arrange a cloud-free day though, unless you enjoy wandering round in the mist.
We will probably go back sometime soon, as there’s more to see in the area. Since 1995, the area around Ben Lomond, including the mountain summit, has been designated as a war memorial (the Ben Lomond National Park Memorial) dedicated to those who gave their lives in the First and Second World Wars. There are also some more interesting hills to check out in the area, so it looks like I might have to change my route north in future.
Text and images © Paul Shorrock unless stated otherwise – the image above by Cunikm is reproduced under a Creative Commons Licence.
It’s a lovely summit ridge. I couldn’t ever go back down the same way though – we went back down the Ptarmigan ridge – leaving the summit is a bit more exciting in that direction (north?).
We were late evening going down to Rowardennan where we stayed at the hotel and we got a puncture in the pouring rain. That’s when you find you don’t really carry sufficient light to mend punctures. Also, the spare and kit were all below all the luggage. A friendly local stopped and helped us out and got us back on our way again 🙂
I never go up north that way – I always take to the A9 and only turn west off it when I have to – I find it more efficient that way and not such slow roads. I tend not to sight-see or anything on my way to somewhere – I always just want to get there!
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In retrospect we should have gone up via the Ptarmigan Ridge but hey ho, we had a good day of it.
Haha – your defence of the A9 is heresy to me, though I take your point on it being more convenient. I love the nostalgia trip, and when I pass the rowen tree growing in the rock on the rise up to Rannoch Moor, I feel that I’ve arrived.
Did you ever drive the A9 when it was being improved (mid-1970s)? The holdups used to be horrendous but it’s made the route a pleasant drive, even if it doesn’t tick my nostalgia box.
no I didn’t used to go up to Scotland before I started Munroing. I still wish they’d get on with making the whole road a dual carriageway myself. I can’t believe that the main trunk road through the whole country isn’t dualled yet!
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Greaat post thanks