Ben Lomond is an impressive sight when viewed from the west shore of Loch Lomond, and while I have passed it several times on the West Highland Way and driving north from Glasgow, I had never actually climbed it until today.
I drove through Bearsden and Milngavie to Drymen, then turned west for Balmaha. From here the road follows the east shore of Loch Lomond, twisting its way up to its end at a car park just beyond the Rowardennan Hotel. The car park has a beautiful wooded lochside setting, and if you follow a track out onto a rocky promontory you are rewarded with magnificent views north along the loch.
The path to Ben Lomond starts off in the trees to the back of the car park, and climbs up and over a forestry track into an area currently being deforested, which gives the first view of the summit since arriving.
There’s a fairly steep initial climb up onto the wide ‘shoulder’ of the mountain, with the main peak rising ahead out of this plateau.
There are views across Loch Lomond as soon as you get above the tree-line, but the mountain itself obscures the view. Once the final ascent has been started though the loch is revealed in its full glory.
Up until now only the (relatively) unremarkable Lowlands to the south had been visible, but once the summit has been scaled there are great views over the more mountainous north.
Rather than retrace my steps I decided to take an alternative route back down, and started my descent over the other side of the summit, where the narrow path drops away quickly towards the neighbouring peak of Ptarmigan.
As I made my way back towards the car park the sun was starting to go down, and by the time I arrived at the lochside once more it was just disappearing behind Beinn Bhreac on the opposite side of Loch Lomond, casting a warm glow over the loch and ben.
The low sun also provided a rather magical effect shining through the trees as I walked back to the car park.