Your Guide to Climbing Ben Lomond: Tourist Path and Ptarmigan Route

Your Guide to Climbing Ben Lomond: Tourist Path and Ptarmigan Route

Ben Lomond, one of Scotland’s most iconic Munros, offers breathtaking views of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. Standing at 974 meters (3,196 feet), it's a popular destination for both novice and experienced hikers. In this guide, we’ll walk you through two primary routes to the summit: the Tourist Path and the Ptarmigan Route.

Getting There

Ben Lomond is located on the eastern shore of Loch Lomond. The most common starting point is the Rowardennan car park. To get there:

  • By Car: From Glasgow, take the A82 road along the western shore of Loch Lomond, then follow the B837 to Rowardennan. The drive takes about 1.5 hours.
  • Public Transport: Take a train from Glasgow to Balloch, then a bus to Rowardennan.

Tourist Path


The Tourist Path, also known as the Mountain Path, is the most popular and straightforward route. It’s well-maintained and suitable for beginners.

  • Distance: 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) round trip
  • Ascent: 974 meters (3,196 feet)
  • Duration: 4-6 hours

Route Description

  1. Start at Rowardennan Car Park: Follow the clear signs for the Tourist Path.
  2. Woodland Walk: Begin with a gentle ascent through a forest. The path is wide and well-trodden.
  3. Open Hillside: As you leave the forest, the path becomes steeper and more exposed, offering stunning views of Loch Lomond.
  4. Shoulder of the Hill: The path zigzags up the shoulder of the hill, providing a gradual ascent.
  5. Summit Ridge: The final push to the summit involves a rocky path. The views from the top are spectacular, with panoramic vistas of the loch and surrounding mountains.


  • Footwear: Wear sturdy hiking boots, as the path can be rocky and slippery.
  • Weather: Check the weather forecast before you go. Conditions can change rapidly in the mountains.
  • Supplies: Bring plenty of water, snacks, and a map.

Ptarmigan Route


The Ptarmigan Route is more challenging but offers a quieter and more scenic ascent. It’s less traveled and involves some steep and rocky sections.

  • Distance: 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) round trip
  • Ascent: 974 meters (3,196 feet)
  • Duration: 4-6 hours

Route Description

  1. Start at Rowardennan Car Park: Head towards the Tourist Path but take the trail branching off to the right towards Ptarmigan Ridge.
  2. Steep Ascent: The path climbs steeply through woodland and then onto the open hillside.
  3. Ptarmigan Ridge: Follow the ridge, which offers stunning views and a more rugged experience. The path can be narrow and rocky.
  4. Join the Tourist Path: Near the summit, the Ptarmigan Route joins the Tourist Path for the final ascent.
  5. Summit: Enjoy the breathtaking views before descending.


  • Experience: This route is best suited for hikers with some experience due to its steep and rocky sections.
  • Navigation: Bring a map and compass as the path is less clearly defined in places.
  • Fitness: Ensure you are in good physical condition to tackle the steeper gradients.

Safety and Preparation

  • Weather: Scottish weather can be unpredictable. Dress in layers and bring waterproofs.
  • Navigation: Even on well-marked paths, having a map, compass, and knowledge of how to use them is crucial.
  • Timing: Start early to ensure you have plenty of daylight.
  • Emergencies: Carry a fully charged mobile phone and let someone know your plans.

Enjoy the Experience

Climbing Ben Lomond is a rewarding experience, offering stunning natural beauty and a sense of accomplishment. Whether you choose the popular Tourist Path or the scenic Ptarmigan Route, you’re in for an unforgettable adventure. Always respect the natural environment and leave no trace.

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Happy hiking!

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