Featured / Hike · September 19, 2022

Hike: Climbing Ben Lomond

Climbing Ben Lomond in Scotland is a great test of resilience and endurance, especially as the weather at the top can change in a moment.

Distance: 11km

Max Elevation: 974m

Time: 4-6 hours return

Climbing Ben Lomond – getting here.

The best place to start is at the Ben Lomond Car Park, on the east side of Loch Lomond at Rowardennan. 

A few tips to start off with:

  • Bring coins to pay for parking (£5) for the day as there is no card payment option and no guarantee of staff, tickets are issued for illegal parking
  • Get here early especially in the peak season as this car park gets busy, there is an overflow car park that is further away
  • Once the car park is full, the police close the road, so getting there before 9:30am is advisable 
  • Equally in wet weather, this car park can get muddy
  • There are well maintained toilet facilities at the car park
  • There is also a water filling station at the entry to the trail
  • There is almost zero public transport to get here, so think about car hire in Glasgow
  • Mobile reception can be patchy depending on your provider

What to bring?

The weather at the top can change pretty quick, so while it might be sunny at the lake shore, at the summit it can be freezing fog and rain.

  • Layers of clothing which you can easily roll up in your backpack 
  • Water
  • Energy rich snacks and ideally things you can eat while walking
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Waterproof clothing
  • Walking boots (which you’ve wore before, don’t try out new shoes on this hike)
  • First aid kit
  • Mosquito repellent for wooded areas
  • Dry clothes and shoes to change into (can leave in your car)
  • A map or printed directions 

The trail

Ben Lomond has approximately 50,000 visitors per year to climb it, meaning the path can be busy at peak times of the year. Thankfully it is extremely well maintained and even on your hike you may come across one of the wonderful workers digging some new steps or repairing the path. In the past, the Ben Lomond path grew very wide and was a real scar on the landscape, visible from very far away. So please stick to the path as you go up and down the mountain.

Choosing your path

To reach the summit of Ben Lomond, there are two high-level walks:

  • Main Path (6.5km to summit)
  • Ptarmigan Path (5km to summit)

The main path, is longer, but less intense, while the Ptarmigan involves a very steep climb to the summit and is only recommended for experienced hikers, not first timers.

For this walk, we focus on the Main Path.

Beginning the climb

Its very difficult to get lost on this hike, as the path is very well maintained throughout. You start off from the carpark and for the first few kilometres are traversing the woods, over bridgers crossing streams and along gravel paths until the landscape opens up. On a clear day you might be able to see your destination of the summit.

Start of the hill path – marking on the Main path to the summit.

Crossing streams through the woodlands.

Out of the woods

As you break out of the woods, every 50m the landscape looking back changes, you will gain glimpses of the loch below.

Soon, the climb starts to steepen and you’ll find the occasional step to help you up rocky sections.

As you continue higher, the full view of Loch Lomond starts coming into view.

Watching the weather

As you climb, it is important to keep an eye on the weather. When we climbed (April 2022), it was a cool cloudy day down at sea level (hence the cloud). As we reached around 600m, visibility changed from minute to minute.

From thick fog with only 10-20m visibility

To epic vistas of the valley and Loch Lomond below.

Every 50ms gives you more of an epic perspective of this beautiful landscape.

The summit

Getting to the summit, no matter the weather feels like a big achievement. For us, the weather turned quite bad so we had to push on through the fog, not knowing how far the top was away apart from looking at our GPS dot on the map.

It’s likely you can find some more impressive photos online than ours from the summit of Ben Lomond, but it was worth the climb. Hey it’s the journey, not the destination that matters. There was also some snow on top of the mountain, which is understandable as it was approx -3c with the wind chill.

Thankfully, we found a soft mossy bank at the summit out of the wind for a quick sandwich and rest before heading back down.

The route back down

Heading down is just as challenging as coming up. If you hike up in the early morning, on the way down you are likely to encounter a busier path than you had on the way up. So it’s likely you might do a bit of a favourite British passtime – queueing.

Soon you’ll be back in the woods and then its a short descent back to the carpark and the end to an epic Scottish hike.

Places to check out while you’re in/around Loch Lomond.

Around Loch Lomond, there are numerous villages that are worth checking out while you are in the area.


The village of Luss on the west coast of the Loch is a worthwhile stop for lunch or an ice cream pit stop.

Coffee and Cake Stop

Auchentullich Farm Shop – West Coast of Loch Lomond. This shop is one of the few coffee places on the west coast and also sells fresh pastries and cakes – a few minutes up the road is a nice spot to sit on the shore and enjoy these delights.