As part of our trip to the United Kingdom in 2014, we spent 10 days in Scotland, including 1 day hiking Ben Lomond. My husband and I were confident that at 11 and 9 years old and in great shape, our kids could manage the hike.
The night before our hike we slept at a bed and breakfast in Dumbarton (about 30 minutes by car from Glasgow), so we started our day with a full Scottish breakfast. We didn’t feel as bad about all that grease knowing that we had a long hike ahead of us!
Ben Lomond (from the Scottish Gaelic: Beinn Laomainn or “Beacon Mountain”) reaches a height of 974 m and is situated on the eastern shore of Loch (lake) Lomond. It is the most southerly of all the munros, and is closest to the rural area of Rowardennan.
What is a munro? A munro is a mountain in Scotland over 3000 feet high (914 m). According to Wilderness Scotland, “Sir Hugh Munro was an original member of the Scottish Mountaineering Club (SMC) and in 1891 he wrote an article for their journal with a definitive list of all the mountains in Scotland over 3000 feet, using maps and taking barometer readings at the top to check their heights, whose summits were of “sufficient separation” from their neighbouring tops. He did not define exactly what “sufficient separation” was and this has lead to a great deal of debate. His original list was made up of 538 summits with 282 being “Munros”. It is not clear when these mountains became known as Munros, but the popularisation of “Munro-bagging” seems to have started with the publication of a book by Hamish Brown, Hamish’s Mountain Walk , in 1974. It documented his four month self-propelled journey (apart from some ferry crossings) round all the Munros.”
After our greasy breakfast, we drove to Rowardennan, where we parked at the Rowardennan car park for a very nominal fee. The 12 km roundtrip starts close to public toilets and a small information centre. In fact, you can’t even see the mountain from the parking lot.
An excellent, detailed description of each section of the hike can be found on the walkhighlands website.
While we were hiking in July, we made sure to bring raincoats with us for warmth and dryness, just in case. We each carried a hydration pack filled with water, as well as lunch and snacks. We weren’t the only ones hiking Ben Lomond that day, but it was a weekday so it wasn’t too busy.
We were rewarded with beautiful views as we hiked. As you can see in the picture below, the summit was obscured by fog as we climbed.
We were amazed at how high up the munro the sheep were. They were all over the place, with some quite cute young ones. If you’re interested in learning about sheep farming, check out the book The Shephard’s Life by James Rebanks, or follow him on twitter @herdyshepherd1. So interesting!
The path up was very windy, with rocky footing that wasn’t too difficult to manage. There was even a small group of people doing trail maintenance while we were hiking.
The best views by far were those from the summit. We were fortunate in that the fog did clear for our time at the top, where we enjoyed our lunch and the 360 degree views.
In the picture below you can see Loch Lomond in the background. At the summit there are fantastic views of the length of Loch Lomond and far into the hills to the north and the Trossachs to the east.
As expected, the trek back down the munro was significantly easier and took far less time. It took us around 5 hours to hike, plus time spent at the summit.
At the bottom, we enjoyed delicious Flake bars, something that the kids and I had never eaten before. Alasdair had fond memories of them from his time in Scotland as a kid.
I would highly recommend this hike! It was a great first munro for the kids.