How to climb Ben Lomond & the Ptarmigan Ridge

Covering 720sq miles, 22 lochs and 21 Munros, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park is famous worldwide for those seeking wonderful scenery and outdoor adventures. The best way to see the park? Climb Ben Lomond and the Ptarmigan Ridge to take in the spectacular views.

How to climb Ben Lomond

Ben Lomond is one of Scotland’s most popular hill climbs, with over 30,000 people reaching the summit every year. On a good day, the Forestry Commission car park at Rowardennan (£3/day) on the east side of the loch is jam-packed and a stream of people head up into the hills. 

We chose the National Trust for Scotland managed ‘tourist path’ for our ascent and surrounded by the mountains, you get incredible full-circle views of the loch and it’s 22 islands. 

This was our first time up Ben Lomond, and after climbing Ben Vorlich at Loch Earn (which is around the same height) we thought we knew what to expect; that was until the weather decided to add 25 degrees of heat.

By the time we’d left the tree line everyone around us was huffing and puffing, and we realised with our fleeces and a rucksack full of hats and scarves, that we were completely over-dressed. I was very thankful I had remembered to pack the factor 30 sunscreen.

We took a well-deserved rest on the plateau before attempting the final climb to the top; I almost want to stay here all day, with a sunbed and a glass of wine in my hand!  

Ben Lomond 3
Ben Lomond 4
Ben Lomond 8

Despite the now oppressive heat and for me, total exhaustion (I was starting to feel like I was climbing in a sauna) we had to push on and we finally reached the top after 2 hours of climbing.

Sadly, as evidenced by the number of people hurrying back down the trail towards us, our time on the top of the mountain was to be very short-lived. Arghh the MIDGIES! Usually found at lower levels, close to water, the incredible heat (and extra dinner they were getting) had pushed a swarm of biting midgies upwards and the top was utterly infested.

Lacking a protective covering of midgie spray we had to make a dash for it and following the round trip walk we scrambled down the back of the mountain to the Ptarmigan Ridge. I only stopped for breath to take the photo below. I did make the summit, honestly!

Ben Lomond 2

Now, I think the descent down the mountain along the Ptarmigan Ridge tops every walk I’ve ever completed in Scotland. The midgies had finally disappeared and with a fresh breeze and home in sight, I was able to really enjoy the views. Just look at it; I think I’ve fallen in love with beautiful Scotland even more. Even if by this point, I was such a sweaty mess, this selfie was really not a good idea! 

Ben Lomond 2 (1)

After 10 miles, 25 degrees, 4 hours 52 minutes walking, 1081m in height and 28500 steps, we did it again! I told you this Munro bagging was addictive.

How long does it take to climb Ben Lomond?

It will take between 4-6 hours to climb Ben Lomond.

Best time to climb Ben Lomond?

Scotland’s weather is best in May and September. Don’t attempt climbing Ben Lomond in winter unless you are a specialist climber. For weather forecasts, I recommend you check out:

Ben Lomond is a deservedly a popular hill and on a good day the car park can quickly fill up. Get there early and don’t park in the passing places if you can’t find a spot.

Ben Lomond route maps

How hard is it to climb Ben Lomond?

Whilst climbing Ben Lomond is not technically hard, it is a Munro, and the path is boggy rough so don’t climb it expecting a wee trip up Arthurs Seat. You will need hillwalking gear and be prepared for the weather to change in a heartbeat – mist, fog and rain can sweep in quickly. 

If you haven’t hill walked before, have a look at my beginners guide to hillwalking in Scotland

Climb Ben Lomond and the Ptarmigan Ridge

Are you a Munro bagging beginner? My guide to climbing a Munro might help.

(I can’t help pronouncing Ptarmigan as Parmesan…)

24 thoughts on “How to climb Ben Lomond & the Ptarmigan Ridge”

  1. Anabel Marsh

    Schiehallion is an easy climb and it’s in a lovely part of the country BUT the last section is very stony and rocky and I found it very hard on the feet and ankles, probably more so coming down. With a history of broken bones I was worried, but if you have strong feet you should be fine.

    1. See that is what worries me – I am the worst at climbing down hill, takes me much longer to get down than it does to get up!

    1. Golly don’t! You don’t actually notice until a couple of days later when the bites come up. Ouch!

  2. Yay! Nice one! What amazing views although I have heard that the midges are ruthless right now… You’ll need to buy some Smidge, Smidge! 🙂 x

    1. I live by Smidge, but left it in my camping bag as I wasn’t expecting them to be swarming on top of a mountain! Smidge is the only spray that works for me (and I love the name obvs). We managed to borrow some of a couple on the way down but it was too late.

      1. Panic! Spoke to a guy today who is off to Torridon but dreading the midges… Ah, feel like we forget midges even exist until the summer comes round again and then it’s like NOOOOO!

  3. Congratulations on bagging another Munro. 🙂 I was quite taken with your suggestion of the sunbed and ‘refreshments’. 🙂 The views are lovely. Why is there always that midges downside to the weather? Thanks for the link, Smidge. I have to admit, I thought parmesan too 🙂

  4. I fancy Schiehallion first when I finally get around to doing it – a girl on my team recently did it and said it’s not too bad until you get close to the top!

    Well done on your second Munro!

  5. Van (@snowintromso)

    Wow these views are absolutely amazing! I love hiking in the mountains when the weather is like that but our 900 metre mountains in Norway are probably even more difficult as they are so steep. Guess I need to embark on a hiking trip to Scotland soon 😉

    1. Ha! This is an ‘easy’ Munro. Many of the 900m + mountains are inaccessible, steep and require specialist equipment and knowledge. If you come to Scotland there is a list below of the ones you can do as a beginner. We know it is only going to get harder!!

      http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/news/our-pick-10-of-the-easier-munros/0013233/

  6. Marcella ~ WhatAWonderfulWorld

    Gorgeous, gorgeous photos! And those views are incredible, especially with the blue sky. I love trekking and these shots have made me want to put on my boots and head to a similarly scenic place 🙂 Thanks for sharing this beauty and for linking up!

  7. Jessi (@2feet1world)

    Wow! What an incredible spot. I’ve climbed Cairn Gorm and now I’m constantly looking for other great walks – which isn’t too hard in Scotland!

  8. laurenonlocation

    That view is breathtaking! Sorry that you couldn’t enjoy it long because of those dang midgies … guessing those a bugs by the way? Hehe .. never heard of them before! At least you got up there and got to snap a few pics! Thanks for linking up 😀

  9. Wow well done, and those views were certainly worth it, and I think you look great in your selfie!

  10. Packing my Suitcase

    Amazing!! What a stunning place! That view over the islands is beautiful, I hope to make it there someday. Great photos as always 😀
    Happy to have you on #MondayEscapes

  11. Wow, you must have had such great weather! As a native Coloradoan living in Scotland 25 degrees is my FAVOURITE time to be out and about climbing! I’ve still not done Ben Lomond before, but I’ve done Ben Nevis twice already and I can tell you, I doubt Ben Nevis will be much more difficult. I’ll hopefully be up Ben Lomond soon! Great post!

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