Exploring Loch Lomond and climbing Ben Lomond
I love Loch Lomond! Anyone who has driven along the Loch’s shores, drifted around the pretty villages or climbed its magnificent Ben would be mad not to agree that this is one of Scotland’s absolute top highlights.
I have to start with the best bit – Ben Lomond. It looms powerfully over the Loch on its east side and is impressive enough from the bottom looking up but takes on another level altogether when you actually climb the thing. It is a moderately challenging climb – taking around 2.5-3 hours up (it stands a little over 3000 feet) but not steep and pretty well pathed. The lowest lying of Scotland’s Munros it is hugely popular and with good reason. If you can get up on a good day as opposed to a bad (I’ve done that too and its not quite as much fun, see the photo below) the views are panoramic and breathtaking.
Hopefully I’ve sold Ben Lomond to all the climbers out there, but the Loch has plenty more to offer too. The largest freshwater body in Britain, Loch Lomond became Scotland’s first National Park in 2002, it’s that good. Superb scenic drives will challenge all your restraint not to put the foot all the way down. Lovely little villages are dotted along the shore, particularly the western, and do take the time to get right down to the water and stick your toe in.
For first time visitors to Scotland, taking on the ‘proper’ Highlands can seem a little daunting. Loch Lomond represents a great alternative to going all out into the deep dark unknown and can be reached within 45 minutes from Glasgow. You get all the benefits of the great Scottish outdoors without being remotely isolated and as soon as that great ideal of a week in a tent loses it appeal alarmingly, you are never too far from all the comforts of city life.