After completing the West Highland Way with Thistle Trekking I had decided to stay on in Scotland and do some route testing for the “walk away” weekends we are going to start offering in 2020. I have done a shamefully small amount of walking in the Scottish Hills and my Munro collection is pitiful to say the least but Ben Lomond is the Southernmost of the famed mountain list and the route up via Ptarmigan is a challenging but very rewarding route and one we will be excited to offer.
Leaving behind the beautiful woodland campground at Sallochy we parked up at the car park at Rowardennan and followed a short section of the West Highland Way passing the YHA and the Bunkhouse until a small sign pointed us through the bluebells in the direction of a narrow path running alongside a tumbling stream. The path climbs quite steeply away from the woodland and onto the lower slopes but the views back across Loch Lomond and beyond reward frequent stops to admire the view and as the wind had picked up considerably we stayed pretty cool as we continued to climb. Whilst Ben Lomond is a very popular summit we had seen very few other walkers going in the same direction as ourselves although as we got nearer to the summit we met an increasing number of walkers doing the route in reverse. After summiting Ptarmigan and passing some beautiful mountainside pools the final haul up to the Ben Lomond summit trig point at 974 metres which was extremely windy and pretty busy with walkers who had followed the main route up. The 360 degree views were spectacular and worth the effort but with the wind picking up even more we didn’t stay long on the top and were soon starting the long, knee crunching slog back down towards the Loch side. It’s a long walk down and there are steep sections that require some concentration, but we found a little snug spot out of the wind and ate our cheese and piccalilli sandwiches with Loch Lomond in the distance and Ravens wheeling overhead. We finally made it back to Rowardennan for a pint in the hotel bar having had a fantastic day out on the hill. If you would like to join us on a walk up Ben Lomond and other walks in the surrounding area please look out for our “Walking weekends” which we will be advertising next year!