The first-ever Munro I climbed was Ben Lomond to raise money for a charity close to my heart. As a total newbie to Munro climbing, here is what I wish I had known and what I would bring to my next Munro walk.
Preparing for a Munro
Munros are no easy feat, especially for someone like me who isn’t an avid gym goer and picks up a hula hoop (not the crisps!) every once in a while.
Whilst I did do a lot more walking in the run-up to this big climb, I wish I had done walks with more of an incline to really prepare my stomach muscles!
When I climbed Ben Lomond, my stomach muscles were hurting me on the way up because of the steepness, I had to keep stopping every 5 minutes at one section to ease the cramp! I think if I had done more hill walking this might not have been a problem.
Things to take
An important note for the following items is that this is just a guide, as you do more climbing you will probably have a longer list of things that you personally would find useful too. The following also don’t have to be expensive, the most important thing is that they fit and are waterproof.
This is a Munro you’re going to climb so a decent pair of walking boots is a must as you will be stepping on rocks, going up and down steep hills and possibly walking on slippery paths if it rains. You need boots that will support your ankle and that you find comfortable to wear. If you’re buying a new pair, break them in before you tackle the Munro. Wear suitable socks with the boots, you don’t want your socks slipping off and getting lost in your boots.
The weather in Scotland can change quickly so a jacket that can protect you from the heavens opening is a good idea to bring. Near the top of Ben Lomond, we got caught in a bit of a rainstorm as we climbed closer to the clouds. You might want to take a jacket that you can easily bundle into a bag, if you are climbing Ben Lomond during summer you will get warm from the walk so I wouldn’t worry too much about wearing a lot of layers.
You will need a comfortable rucksack to carry all your supplies. A rucksack will be easier to climb with and will free your hands up so you can keep balance.
Food and drink
It’s super important to stay hydrated and to have food with you. There are public toilets at the carpark for the Munro so don’t worry about needing the toilet as you will probably lose a lot of the liquid from sweating anyway! Take enough food for a decent lunch with snacks, I think it’s better to have too much than not enough. Remember to pack a treat for when you reach the top!
Map and a compass
Although I did not have these things with me on my walk, in future I would bring. Especially if there’s not many people walking up, I would hate to get lost and not know my bearings!
Suncream and Smidge
It’s important to protect our skin, even though it might not seem sunny, as you will be outdoors for hours your skin will still be exposed to sun rays so it’s good to lather on some suncream. The midgies might come to attack, Smidge or any other good midgie repellent will do the trick.
Optional: hiking sticks/poles
I didn’t use these when climbing Ben Lomond but some people find walking sticks a big help for keeping balance and grip on certain areas. Although you definitely don’t need to have these for this climb.
Optional: a climbing partner
You might find that bringing someone along with you will help with motivation and might help you feel more confident in climbing the Munro. Full respect for people who can do these things alone but I like to have someone to natter to.
What I wished I had known about climbing Ben Lomond
As I hadn’t climbed a Munro before Ben Lomond, I had no idea what to expect except for an amazing view.
Best to arrive early morning
Although we had reached the car park at Ben Lomond in the morning, we hadn’t realised how popular the walk is and we were glad we hadn’t gotten there any later. The car park costs £3 for all-day parking.
Where to park to climb Ben Lomond?
The route to climb Ben Lomond begins in the Rowardennan car park – owned by Forestry Commission Scotland.
G63 0AR is the closest postcode, below is the car park location on Google Maps.
The walk up to the Munro was tough
The walk up to the foot of Ben Lomond was tough for me and for many others I saw. I actually saw someone turn around and give up but it gets so much easier. Don’t feel bad if you find the walk up a bit exhausting, just know that it will get easier and take your time. You don’t need to rush, there’s no race!
You will walk through clouds
Honestly, that sentence alone makes me want to walk back up there. You will feel like you’re at the top of the world, an amazing experience!
At several points on our climb, it was as if we were in a game that hadn’t fully loaded yet, as the view slowly faded and a cloud surrounded us – it was like being in a bubble.
After being at the top, I don’t really remember much about the walk down, I think I was so elated to have climbed it. It was also lovely that other climbers were congratulating us and then we were motivating people who were walking up by letting them know how little left they had to go to reach the top.
Have you climbed Ben Lomond before?