Hiking on a sunny day in Scotland may be the hiker’s equivalent of finding a £20 note in the street, but it does happen. The views from the top of Ben Lomond overlooking the loch and the Southern Highlands are stunning to say the least. If you can’t make it up when the sun is out and the fog is gone, the hike is both interesting in terms of terrain and a good challenge.
The approximately 8-mile (12.8 km) hike can be quite difficult, particularly the descent, ranging from gentle inclines to steep jagged rock paths that must be climbed using your hands. However, don’t let the difficulty put you off. The beauty of this natural area makes the hike worth it. Certainly, these are some of the best views I have seen on a trek in the UK.
It is also worth mentioning, if it is a sunny day, make sure you wear sun cream! We forgot ours and were completely burnt coming off the mountain. As always, good hiking shoes and plenty of water and snacks are a must.
Begin the hike by getting yourself to Ben Lomond Car Park on Loch Lomond. It is a winding 45-minute drive from Dumbarton following the old military road.
Although you can start the hike from the opposite direction, I would recommend starting from this car park as the ascent is a little easier from this way.
The hike begins in lowland forest where you will pass several small creeks and can enjoy the cool morning while the fog, hopefully, burns off for your ascent.
Emerging from the trees gives you your first views of the loch and the path is often shared with the local sheep, which you can hear baying up and down the mountain.
The high grasslands and rocky outcrops on the way up give the scenery a sort of “Lord of the Rings” feel. There are many great stopping points to turn around and take a photo over the Loch to your back and at these points I recommend stopping and enjoying breakfast if you brought it.
One thing I noticed on the ascent is that the landscape makes the top seem closer than it is, don’t be fooled! The hike to the top takes 3 or more hours, although experienced hikers can do it in under 3.
Once you reach the peak, the views are incredible. The view of the Loch to the South-Southwest are stunning, with islands that look like the backs of giant turtles in the Loch. To the North lies the rest of the Southern Highlands affording amazing views of rugged Scotland that cannot be seen elsewhere.
Then begins the descent. The first bit from the summit is the most difficult, we had to climb down very carefully. Having some decent grip on your hiking shoes will help immensely here.
After the first 45 minutes or so the hike pans out to a more comfortable incline and gives incredible views of Loch Lomond to the right.
After crossing through a small patch of woodland and reaching effectively the end of the hike you will see a small stand selling water, Diet Coke and snacks. This was a godsend for us as we had run out of water.
Continuing down the path, more of a dirt road at this point, you will reach the car park.
A huge shout out to The Clansman here, which is a pub just a short walk up the road from the car park. The service was great (ask the barman to tell you any US State Capital) and it is right on Loch Lomond.
Overall, the hike took a little over five hours not counting a well-earned lunch break at the top. The beauty of this hike can not be overstated, and the friendliness of local Scottish hikers is also worth mentioning. If you love hiking, Ben Lomond should definitely go on your list.