See all stories
12 Mar 2023

Preventing further damage to iconic Scottish summit

Written by Paul Williams
Image of mountain top showing eroded ground and lots of people sitting either side of the main path.
Work to stop vegetation loss and soil erosion will be undertaken on the summit of Ben Lomond.
We are undertaking vital conservation work on the summit of Ben Lomond to try and stop soil erosion and the spread of vegetation loss.

The iconic 974m-high mountain, standing on the shores of Loch Lomond, has seen a substantial loss of plant life as a result of trampling. This has led to an increase in bare, unvegetated ground on the summit.

We will start work on 20 March to improve footpath access to the summit to stop further loss of vegetation and soil erosion. We are concerned that the eroded area could double in size over the next few years if left untreated.

This intervention to address the spread of erosion is only possible thanks to the generosity of donors to the National Trust for Scotland’s Footpath Fund, an important source of support to protect and care for Scotland’s mountain landscape.

A wide rocky path leads up to the summit of Ben Lomond. To the right of it, a narrower path passes through heather and vegetation to also reach the summit.
View of the final ascent to Ben Lomond summit showing the eroded ground

Alasdair Eckersall, National Trust for Scotland Property Manager and Senior Ranger, said: ‘The Trust will be carrying out some crucial conservation work to address the loss of vegetation density and soil erosion from the summit of Ben Lomond. The mountain top is home to some sensitive and scarce plant species and we need to protect their habitat from further damage to help re-establish the ground cover.

‘Increased pressure from rising visitor numbers has led to the degradation of plant life and topsoil on the peak, which was exacerbated by periods of intense footfall following the easing of lockdown restrictions during the pandemic in 2020.’

“Having monitored the situation over the last few years, it is important to address this now to try and stop further erosion of the area.”
Alasdair Eckersall
National Trust for Scotland Property Manager and Senior Ranger

Alasdair continued: ‘We have noticed more walkers using the softer, vegetated ground to ascend and descend from the summit. Our aim is to develop a clearly defined path through the broad area already eroded down to the bedrock and mineral layer, to protect against further erosion. We will also undertake landscaping work to encourage walkers to stick to the recommended route. Walkers can contribute to the success of our work by sticking to the areas already worn bare; this will help to ease the impact of further damage from trampling, giving the fragile summit vegetation a chance to recover over the coming growing season.

‘This important work is only made possible by the generous donations to our Footpath Fund, which helps the Trust care for and protect Scotland’s stunning mountain landscapes and preserve them for future generations. This support ensures we can continue to provide access to nature, beauty and heritage for everyone, aligned with our goals set in our 10-year strategy that was launched in March 2022.’

Find out more about donating to the Footpath Fund

People working on a wide rocky footpath at the top of a Scottish mountain
Landscaping work to block trampling in 2021 with volunteer Brian McWilliams

National Trust for Scotland staff will start work on the eastern side of the mountain top and on the final 150m ascent to the summit. This will involve improving footpath access and landscaping areas of flat, eroded ground with a series of hummocks and hollows to help divert walkers away from affected areas on the summit. There will be some initial disturbance to the ground, but this will be done sensitively to maintain as natural an appearance as possible.

The Ben Lomond footpath work is part of the National Trust for Scotland’s vision to deliver nature, beauty and heritage for everyone. The project is one of many contributing to our conservation objectives, specifically to stabilise and improve the condition of our estate and to enable nature to flourish.

Read more about the strategy

Explore Ben Lomond

Visit now