Hiking up the camels back: Ben Lomond Scotland

As I stand on the edge of the world,
a speck on a grander scale,
I see my heavy footprints in the dirt but the scale feels no weight.
As I stand on the edge of the world,
the view below is a ripple in time, yet I see no change.
As I stand on the edge of the world,
I ponder these questions.
If my steps alone are small, is the measure of my existence insignificant?
or are we one giant foot crushing the planet into a flat conspiracy?
Does the weight of us all tip the balance or break it?
I ponder…

It is universally known how goddam gorgeous Scotlands landscape is. Whenever you read lists like top 10 countries to visit or most astounding landscapes in the world, Scotland is always high up in the rankings. I have been living here on and off for 5 years now and it is just not acceptable for that I haven’t seen more of this country. Luckily I have friends who feel the same, friends with cars and full licenses so we can visit all of the places not easily accessible by public transport.

Ben Lomond is just over two hours from Edinburgh. It is located at Loch Lomond in Stirling. As Ned Stark famously said”Winter is coming” so we left before sunrise to arrive nice and early to Loch Lomond. The drive isn’t a snore fest. It brings you along small country roads that cut through farmland and small villages, (best to keep the windows closed for this section of the road trip).

The Kelpies

The Kelpies represent the lineage of the heavy horse of Scottish industry and economy that shaped the geographical layout of the Falkirk area. There are mini replicas of these sculptures at the Edinburgh airport and St Andrews.

Ben Lomond or in the Gaelic “Beinn Laomainn” (Beacon Mountain’) is 974 metres in elevation (3,196 ft). It lies on the eastern shore of Loch Lomond and is the most southerly of the Munros. Since 1995 the area around Ben Lomond, including the mountain summit, has been designated as a war memorial, called the Ben Lomond National Memorial Park. The park is dedicated to those who gave their lives in the First and Second World Wars and was created out of the former Rowardennan Estate with the support of the National Heritage Memorial Fund. Apparently, on a clear day, you can see Ben Lomond from higher ground in Glasgow, across Strathclyde and even from Ben Nevis 40 miles away. Might be why it is named the Beacon Mountain. If you aren’t up for a hike, the Loch is a great place to walk around or picnic.

5 minutes down 295 to go…

We started at the car-park (charge) in Rowardennan. There are toilets but during the winter season, the toilets are closed until February so be prepared to relieve yourself in natures toilet. We took the route clearly marked behind the closed toilets. This route takes you along a forestry path first before it opens up. We passed through a gate, crossed a track and continued uphill. Not long after that, we crossed a small bridge over water and from there it opened up giving you wonderful views of the Loch below. Perfect photo opportunity/ disguise your desperate need for a break. Secrets out!

Hidden behind these smiles is pain…

We met some of the local wildlife grazings along the hillside. I think this breed of cattle is called Galloway which is native to the area. If I’m wrong and someone out there is a cow aficionado please feel to comment and correct me. Whatever they are or not, they are absolutely adorable and have no interest in hikers.

After passing the cows that refused our attention (the rejection still hurts) there was an open valley with a long thin eroded path that moved towards the peak and up along its back. It looked like a scar on the mountains head that never really healed.

From here the path zigzags up the hump of the mountain. Along the hump is a great spot to take a break, refuel and enjoy your surroundings. Here you can see the other sections of the mountain and the other mountains huddled around the area. Absolutely breathtaking. It also blocks the wind a bit so you don’t get too cold. Eventually, the trail levels off and veers to the left around the rim of the mountain (more superb views).

From the peak, you can either retrace your route or you can go down a rockier Ptarmigan route. We, unfortunately, didn’t venture that way this time although I did attempt it. The descent was covered in ice and snow. It was also very steep. It was hard to keep a grip on the rock to lower my body down. I was already on my way down before I thought “This was a bad idea”, but I also thought well you are already doing it so you might as well keep going. I made it past the hard part and was chuffed with myself that I was alive, I looked back to see how the others were doing.  They had not followed my daring (or stupidity). Seeing how difficult it was for me they decided against following which was probably a really good idea.

 Ben Lomond Top Tip

Wear appropriate shoes. Some of my friends wore trainers and found some parts of the hike more difficult because of this. Trainers give no ankle support and little protection from the elements. I recommend walking boots or at least trainers with good ankle support. The sections with loose gravel and rockier terrain are made easier with a good pair of boots. I did quite a bit of research before purchasing mine. When I found the ones I wanted, I shopped around for the best price and in the end, got them for 50% off the original price. I never had to break them in and they are very comfortable.

The dog below was having the time of his life on the mountain. He was running around the top playing in the snow and seemed to love a view just as much as we do.

On our way back down the sun was setting. The light made the mountains glow orange. Hiking at the end of Autumn is like standing in Four Seasons. The blues, skies, powerful sun, leaves that are still green fighting back against the Autumn colours and snow covered peaks.

Want to see more of our hike? Check out the video below!

Jess x

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