The Mountain's Silhouette

Hiking and backpacking in the mountains of Scotland

Ben Lomond via the Ptarmigan

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Time: 4hrs 50mins (including stops)
Distance: 7.3 miles
Munro: Ben Lomond (974m)
Route: Click here to view on 1:50,000 OS Map

The drive to Rowardennan on the eastern shore of Loch Lomond was a tantalising one with the mountains wreathed in mist but a watery sun illuminating the valley. However, as the potholes got worse so did the weather until we found ourselves booting up under a sombre sky. The car park was already full (despite closed toilets) and a string of people could be seen heading up onto the slopes.

Looking up the Ptarmigan

The air was still and muggy as we climbed up the steep slopes of the Ptarmigan, passing plenty of people and pausing only occasionally to peer through the mist at the faint outline of the Loch below and the track ahead above. A gaggle of French students, inadequately dressed, were strung out along the track and didn’t appear too impressed with the Scottish weather.

Figures in the mist

The climb was unrelenting until we reached the top of the Ptarmigan and above 1600ft or so we were deep in the cloud, clothes dripping with moisture. Close to a Lochan near the summit we paused for a bite to eat.

The final steep scramble from the Ptarmigan to Ben Lomond’s summit was greasy but fun and the swirling clouds eliminated any exposure. The summit trig point was reached only 2 hours after starting.

It was busy on top with many people labouring up the tourist route. We stopped here just on the sheltered south side to enjoy lunch and coffee.

After our food we headed along the ridge on the north side checking out some impressive cornicing and scrambling on the rocks above the tourist route. We emerged from the mist and joined the Tourist Path for a few hundred metres before turning off again and striking out into the empty lands to the south of Lomond’s summit cone.

Loch Lomond

As we descended further down, though sheltered from the wind, it was clear that the cloud was at last starting to break. Scattered parties could be seen along the bumps of the Ptarmigan and light sparkled over Loch Lomond. We followed a watercourse down until the land got flatter. A red grouse was found among the tussocks and then a line of sheep.

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We crossed a small stream and then contoured around a rise to find ourselves above the Ptarmigan route once more but with the spectacular sight of the Arrochar Alps now on display beneath a sky of fluffy white clouds. Suddenly many photos were taken.

Arrochar Alps

Boat on Loch Lomond

The Arrochar Alps

We dropped steeply down to the Ptarmigan path and made our way back to Rowardennan. The day was now wonderfully warm and we returned to the shores of Loch Lomond in short sleeves as a summer feel came to the place. It was such a contrast to the near freezing temperatures on the summit (which of course was now clear!).

Ptarmigan

Loch Lomond

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