Ben Lomond

A much maligned hill. And yet some of my finest hill days have been spent on it. Like Ben Nevis it has a tourist track and also another way, a rougher, steeper way. Ptarmigan ridge is no CMD Arete, but on a clear midweek winters day, making the first set of footprints up the steep clamber from Ptarmigan to the summit brings joy to match that of any other ascent of a “grander” hill.


The summit ridge is a fine view point, the horizon to the south lies far in the distance. Look to the other points of the compass and your eye is pulled in all directions by the tumbling rocky waves of the Highlands.

The northern coire of Ben Lomond is another hidden gem. A dark and lonely place, holding late snow and summer shadows, any approach from this side is a labour of love and a test of resolve.

So decry this fine hill if you will. It suffers only from accessability and good looks, a popularity that makes it simple to dismiss it as a tourist trap. State your misgivings all you want, but rather I think you might look to yourself for the reasons that you can find no place in your heart for this beautiful Ben.

10 thoughts on “Ben Lomond”

  1. This Ben was my first hill.

    I has been responsible for many firsts for me.

    • This hill was my 1st “Munro run” – which began my flexible crampon search
    • The weather on this hill perpetrated my 1st complete kit failure
    • On this hill was the 1st time I couldn’t pitch the Laserlite above 800m due to high winds
    • I wore Icebugs in anger for the 1st time on this hill

    I love it, and will continue to use it as our local test hill.

  2. Ah, the day of kit failure.
    The motor had two inches of water in it when we got back to base.

    I felt for Brian in that Patagonia duffel coat.

  3. Memories indeed.

    In that fine orange Alpine Lite there, my phone is floating around in a waterproof stuffsack that’s full of water…

  4. First time up there was April 4th, 2000 IIRC. Saw maybe 6 folk all day and had the top to myself for ages. Clear blue skies, cold and the merest hint of a breeze. There was even still a lot of snow around. Magical.
    That was the day I came up with the concept of the “Tuesday Hill”; honeypot Munros that should only be climbed mid-week in order to avoid the crowds.
    That Northern side of it does take you by surprise tho’. I really should go back but with a camera this time :o)

  5. Nice photos,very cool looking hill.kinda makes me want to get up there at some point.Aint been to scotland for about 9 years,last time was on a lands end to john o groats bike ride,10 days of sheer hell and soreness.some great scenery up there that will be etched in my memory forever,going ver the dramochda(spelling?)pass was a highlight as was the almighty piss up in JOG!
    Ahhh,waterlogged packs,something very close to my heart,quite a regular occurance down here in south wales,the beacons have their fair share of the wet stuff.Still waiting for some snow down here,although the weather is getting colder,so hopefully we’ll get some of the white stuff soon.Theres nothing quite like breaking trail on the freshly fallen snow and wading waist deep in the stuff to get the blood flowing.Heading out into the southern beacons this weekend to do a nice 12 mile slog across the black mountain and onto the bannau sir Gar(carmarthen fans) my favourite stomping grounds.

  6. That’s some bike ride. The most I’ve done is a coast to coast, and up here that’s only a few hours worth at 50 odd miles.

    Winter’s here for sure, just how commited it’s feeling we’ll find out soon enough. I really miss the good snow that would lie for months.

    Wet winters are rubbish.

  7. Yeah,but you have got a hell of a coast up there,the journey up the east coast through lubster and wick was pretty gruelling if I remember correctly,then there was the snow being blown uphill towards me,even making downhill sections a struggle,some kind soul even stopped their car on the ord of caithness to ask if I would like a lift!…I politely declined of course.The journey was done on a converted Marin bobcat trail rigid,without even as much as a puncture the whole way.
    Wet winters do indeed suck…and its been very wet around here lately.I can see some of the southern peaks here in the distance from my house,first sight of snow on the tops and I’m off!

  8. The far north is fantastic, and away from the coast almost empty. Totally different from the rest of the mainland, well worth exploring.

    It’s a while since I was on a rigid bike. That’s one are where I’ll happy go heavier and enjoy the plushness of suspension :o)

    This time last year e were working near Gartocharn on the southern bank of Loch Lomond. Every day we could see the snow gathering on the Ben, the Arrochar Alps and the Tyndrum and Crainlarich hills.
    Unbearably frustrating. When we finally got out you can see the evidence of the conditions in Craigs photie above.

    Not fair.

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