Ben Lomond by the Ptarmigan ridge

by Dan Bailey - ? Sep/2011
This route has been read 2,625 times

WalkingBen Lomond by the Ptarmigan ridge

Argyll and Bute, SCOTLAND

google map Graded moderate ?

Voting 4*
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Distance 7.24 miles (11.65 km)

Total ascent 994m

Steepest climb 52% (1 in 2)

Time 4:30 hours (Walking)

Start/finish Rowardennan car park, NS359986

Summits included en route:
Hill Ben Lomond 974 m

Nearest town Drymen

Terrain Clear well-trodden paths all the way; some reasonably steep inclines.

Seasonal variations An excellent winter round, a little steep in the final ascent to Ben Lomond but with no notable difficulties. The edge of the northeast corrie may be corniced.

Weather and hill conditions mwis: West HighlandsMet Office: West Highlands

Public transport Buses up the east shore of Loch Lomond only run as far as Balmaha. Alternatively catch a Citylink bus from Glasgow to Inverbeg or Luss on the west bank of the loch, from where seasonal waterbus services connect to Rowardennan: see

Guidebooks West Highland Way, Dan Bailey, pb. Pocket Mountains

The Munros, SMC

Maps OS Explorer 364 (1:25,000), OS Landranger 56 (1:50,000), OS Landranger 50 (1:50,000)

Accommodation Rowardennan Lodge YH 0870 004 1148
Bear in mind the seasonal wild camping restrictions on the east shore of Loch Lomond - see this news item.

Find more Classifieds near this route

Tourist info Tarbet (Loch Lomond) (08707 200 623); Ardgartan (08707 200 606); Drymen (08707 200 611)

Rising within sight of Glasgow, Scotland's most southerly Munro is also among its most popular. Ben Lomond stands in a dominant position overlooking the Loch of the same name, its edge-of-the-highlands location giving it a wide ranging outlook spanning both the mountainous north and the low lying Central Belt. The standard linear route from Rowardennan is the hillwalker’s equivalent of a motorway, busy year-round. This comparatively less-visited ascent via the minor summit of Ptarmigan gives a longer and more interesting circuit.

Close this photo
+Ben Lomond from The Cobbler, 81 kb
Ben Lomond from The Cobbler


Detailed description

NS3595098635 Follow the West Highland Way north along the loch shore, soon turning slightly inland to skirt right of the Rowardennan youth hostel. Just beyond some rangers’ cottages branch off right onto a path beside a burn, climbing through woods and then up a more open hillside. Below the prominent waterfall stay left instead of crossing a stile, making a long rising traverse with an outlook over Loch Lomond. The path passes below scattered rock outcrops before zigzagging steeply onto the grassy 'summit' of Ptarmigan.

NN3582002205 Ptarmigan is less a defined summit, more like the last pimple on the end of a broad curving ridge. Follow the high ground between rocks, pools and boggy patches, following the ridge as it loops around the head of a shallow corrie to reach the summit slopes of Ben Lomond. The ground steepens and the path gets rougher for the final pull to the top.

+Looking northwest from Ben Lomond, 81 kb
Looking northwest from Ben Lomond
© Dan Bailey -

+Loch Lomond from Ben Lomond, 52 kb
Loch Lomond from Ben Lomond
© Dan Bailey -

At the summit trig point you join the busy normal route to descend. At first the main path runs just below the edge of Ben Lomond’s northern cliffs, and it's more interesting to follow this crest rather than the trail itself. As the cliff edge begins to curve northeast drop to the main path. This zigzags down a fairly steep slope and then makes a more gentle descent across the open moorland below, following the vague spur of Sron Aonich with the island-scattered lower reaches of Loch Lomond stretching out below. The path enters some woods, soon leading back to Rowardennan.

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