Ben Lui is one of the most epic Munro summits to reach in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. It’s by no coincidence that Ben Lui is regarded as one of the finest mountains in the southern highlands of Scotland. Typically, after climbing Ben Lui, hikers will then ascend another nearby Munro called Beinn a’ Chleibh. In this guide, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about bagging both the well-known Ben Lui and the lesser-known Beinn a’ Chleibh from Glen Lochy.
Table of Contents
About Ben Lui
Nicknamed the Queen of the South or the Queen of the Southern Highlands, Ben Lui is a famous and well-recognised Munro in this part of Scotland. At 1,130 metres above sea level, Ben Lui is the third-highest mountain in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. This Munro is actually the highest Munro in a group of four mountains that also include Ben Oss (1,029 metres), Beinn Dubhchraig (978 metres) and Beinn a’ Chleibh (916 metres). Being utterly impressive, the range of peaks once had National Nature Reserve status.
As mentioned, it’s common to climb both Ben Lui and Beinn a’ Chleibh in one outing. That’s exactly what Beck and I did and highly recommend it. Indeed, when it comes to southern highlands walks in Scotland, Ben Lui and Beinn a’ Chleibh is one of the best.
FYI – in Gaelic, Ben Lui is named Beinn Laoigh. Take note that you’ll find the Gaelic name used on some maps.
Where Is Ben Lui?
Ben Lui is located in the northwest corner of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park in Scotland in the United Kingdom. To help get your bearings, please click on the image below to access an interactive map of the area.
Ben Lui and Beinn a’ Chleibh: Statistics
Below, you’ll find trail specs for the Ben Lui and Beinn a’ Chleibh Walk.
- Type: Out & Back with Loop
- Distance: 11km (6.8 miles)
- Time: 5.5–7 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 1,190m
- Difficulty: Hard
- Trailhead: Glen Lochy Foresty Car Park
Ben Lui and Beinn a’ Chleibh Maps (GPS and OS)
Personally, Beck and I used a GPS-guided map (linked below) to help us navigate the route. Admittedly, trail navigation was quite challenging during the ascent of Ben Lui. Even with a GPS-guided map, it was difficult to ascend the mountain with a clean and direct route as the trail is mostly pathless. At best, the GPS-guided map helped provide a rough guide for trail navigation. But, you’ll have to have your wits about you.
- GPS-Guided Map with GPX File to download: Wikiloc
- Ordnance Survey Map to buy: The Trossachs, Callander, Aberfoyle & Lochearnhead, Balquhidder & Strathyre
Ben Lui and Beinn a’ Chleibh: Terrain and Profile
The terrain encountered during the Ben Lui and Beinn a’ Chleibh Walk is quite varied. Initially, a river crossing is required across the River Lochy. Beck and I visited in summer when presumably, the river was drier. So, we were able to skip across stones without needing to physically wade. Please be aware that wading across the river may be required at certain times of the year. Additionally, if the river is in spate (a very full and heavy flow), wading is too dangerous. So, this approach may not always be possible.
If safe to proceed beyond River Lochy, you’ll soon ascend a steep and often boggy area called Fionn Choire. Positioned in between the forest and a river stream called Eas Dàimh, this section is notoriously boggy and slow-going. Once you’ve exited the forest, you’ll soon reach the grassy lower northern slopes of Ben Lui. Taking the classic route, you’re likely in for a wet and soggy pathless journey. Again, in summer, when Beck and I visited, the lower slopes were only mildly wet. But, we imagine after heavy rainfall, the terrain would be a bog fest.
Eventually, you’ll reach nearer the peak of Ben Lui, where you’ll swap soft grassy terrain for steep rocky terrain. You’ll continue to encounter rocky terrain between Ben Lui and Beinn a’ Chleibh.
In total, the Ben Lui and Beinn a’ Chleibh Walk involves an accumulated elevation gain of approx. 1,160 metres. In reaching Ben Lui, you’ll do the far majority of the elevation gain. To reach Beinn a’ Chleibh from Ben Lui, you’ll roughly descend 330 metres, whilst only needing to ascend a further 130 metres. Certainly, the second Munro is good bang for buck.
Ben Lui and Beinn a’ Chleibh: Walk Description
Below, we’ll briefly describe the Ben Lui and Beinn a’ Chleibh Walk. Here, our intention isn’t to explain the walk step-by-step. Rather, our aim here is to give you a snappy overview of the walk. Whilst doing so, we’ll reveal highlights of the walk, showing you some awesome photos of the scenery on offer. Hopefully, this trail description will help motivate you to take on this challenging walk!
Where to Start: Glen Lochy
From the Glen Lochy Forestry Car Park, you’ll follow a well-defined trail, leading you by River Lochy. As mentioned, you’ll soon need to cross the river as there is no bridge that crosses over.
An obvious trail then weaves through an area called the Fionn Choire burn. Eventually, the trail veers right as you reach an unsealed road and bridge. You won’t need to cross the bridge to continue the walk; but, some of the best views of Eas Dàimh can be viewed from the bridge. The Eas Dàimh is a charming narrow stream of cascades that eventually join the River Lochy.
With Eas Dàimh to your right, you’ll begin to follow a mostly defined trail that often becomes boggy. You’ll continue to enjoy gorgeous cascades and waterfalls as you ascend by the stream, whilst sometimes ducking into the forest to avoid the bog.
Eventually, you’ll reach a gate, which signals the end of the forestry section. You’ll now begin the ascent to Ben Lui. The trail, heading east, is initially well-defined. But, soon enough, the trail becomes no more as you start self-navigating the slopes. In a sometimes frustrating hike up, you’ll be pleased when you finally see the rocky terrain nearing the peak of the mountain. An obvious rocky trail emerges, which steers you along the ridgeline leading to Ben Lui.
Ben Lui: The First Munro
Finding the well-defined trail along the epic ridgeline is certainly a turning point in the walk. You’ll soon see the mind-blowing Coire Gaothach on the northeast face of the mountain. Coire Gaothach is a well-known corrie that holds snow well past winter. Because of this, Coire Gaothach is a popular climb for mountaineers. For us simple hiking folk, the views of surrounding Munors such as Meall nan Gabhar and Ben Cruachan and Corbetts such as Ben Chuirn are truly mesmerising.
Beinn a’ Chleibh: The Second Munro
After an arduous climb up, it’s time to tackle the second Munro of the day – Beinn a’ Chleibh. An obvious steep trail leads you down a rocky face of Ben Lui. Soon, the trail flattens at the bealach between the mountains. You’ll then begin a much easier climb up Beinn a’ Chleibh.
It was a relief to reach the second Munro of the day, and, for us, it was time for lunch! Sure, the views from Beinn a’ Chleibh might not have been quite as spectacular as the ones from Ben Lui; but, still, at nearly 1,000 metres above sea level, you’ll still enjoy a marvellous view, especially out towards the West Highlands.
To finish the walk, you’ll simply retrace your steps to descend Beinn a’ Chleibh. Then, from the bealach, you’ll return via a different trail, that more efficiently and directly links you back to the gate near the forest. From the gate, you’ll simply retrace your steps back to Glen Lochy Forestry Car Park.
Other Ben Lui Routes
There are many route variations for exploring Ben Lui. Let’s look at some of the more popular alternatives below.
- Beinn Dubhchraig, Ben Oss, Ben Lui and Beinn a’ Chleibh: if you’re up for a challenge, try scaling all four Munros in this long one-way affair.
- Ben Lui From Dalrigh: this out and back to Ben Lui starts from Darligh and can include the extra ascent to Beinn a’ Chleibh. This route explores more of the impressive Coire Gaothach.
- Beinn Dubhchraig, Ben Oss and Ben Lui: this circular option to Ben Lui also starts from Darligh; but, also involves bagging Ben Dubhchraig and Ben Oss. Again, if you’ve got the legs, you could add Beinn a’ Chleibh to this walk.
How to Get to Ben Lui
To do the walk described in this guide, you’ll need to get to the Glen Lochy Forestry Car Park. The quickest and easiest way to get there is to drive there yourself. If you don’t have your own set of wheels, we recommend hiring a car using Rentalcars.com. You’ll find a wide variety of cars on Rental Cars for reasonable prices. The website is user-friendly and booking online is super easy.
Please note that parking at the Glen Lochy Car Park isn’t free. But, there is no parking meter. You’ll need to pay online afterwards or use an app. If you don’t pay at the time of use, you have 72 hours to pay the £3 parking fee.
There is no bus stop near Glen Lochy Forestry Car Park. Although, buses running to and from Oban do regularly pass the turnoff for the car park on the A85 road. At the driver’s discretion, you may be able to stop near Glen Lochy Forestry Car Park. But, officially speaking, Ben Lui isn’t considered a Munro that’s accessible via public transport. So, driving to the car park yourself is recommended.
If you want to stay nearby Ben Lui, we recommend staying in the lovely village of Crianlarich. Beck and I really enjoyed spending time in the charming village. Below, we’ll reveal the best budget, mid-range and luxurious accommodation options in Crianlarich.
- Budget – Crianlarich Youth Hostel: without a doubt, the Crianlarich Youth Hostel is the most affordable option in Crianlarich. Although, there are also private rooms if you’d like the privacy but are also keen on the hostel vibes.
- Mid-range – Ewich House B&B: there are many highly-rated B&Bs in Crianlarich. Certainly, Ewich House B&B is one of the best-value B&Bs in the village.
- Mid-range – Inverardran House B&B: one of the most popular bed and breakfasts is the well-renowned Inverardran House B&B.
- Luxury – The Crianlarich Hotel: Best Western’s Crianlarich Hotel is the stand-out luxury option in the area. You’re guaranteed an outstanding stay at the highly-rated three-star hotel.
Otherwise, we recommend staying in Tyndrum, where you’ll also find plenty of awesome accommodation options.
What to Do Nearby
What next, after hiking Ben Lui and Beinn a’ Chleibh Walk? Well, you probably won’t have time in the day to do another double Munro hike. Otherwise, the Ben More and Stob Binnein Walk, starting in nearby Crianlarich, would be the perfect option. Perhaps, it’s time to chase some waterfalls instead! Of course, you’ll have to check out the nearby Falls of Falloch.
The Other Best Loch Lomond Walks
There are plenty of other excellent walks to do in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. Below, we’ll detail the best Loch Lomond walks, all of which, we completed ourselves.
- Ben Lomond: this is the premier walk in the national park.
- Ben Arthur (The Cobbler): located in the Arrochar Alps, the walk to Ben Arthur is perhaps the second most popular walk in the area.
- Beinn Narnain and Beinn Ime: located near Ben Arthur, you can summit these two Munros during one epic walk.
- Ben Vane: a less popular but equally impressive Munro that’s also located in the Arrochar Alps.
- Ben Vorlich and Stuc a’ Chroin: one of our favourite walks in the national park.
- Loch Ard and Rob Roy’s Cave: an easy walk at Loch Ard that passes Rob Roy’s Cave.
- Conic Hill: a famous short and easy walk starting from Balmaha.
- Ben A’an: a well-known short but steep mountain walk.
- Ben Venue: a Munro walk, offering great views of several surrounding lochs.
- Loch Katrine and Primrose Hill: a great circular walk exploring the famous Loch Katrine.
- Little Fawn Waterfall Trail: located in Queen Elizabeth Forest Park, the short trail reaches this underrated waterfall.
- Bracklinn Falls: a well-known waterfall located near Callander.
- Ben Ledi: a spectacular Munro walk starting near Loch Lubnaig.
Read more: 26 Best Loch Lomond Walks Guide
Below, you’ll find the most frequently asked questions about Ben Lui.
Is Ben Lui a Munro?
Yes, it is!
How Long Does It Take to Climb Ben Lui?
On average, between 5.5–7 hours.
Is Ben Lui Difficult?
Yes, it’s one of the most difficult Munro walks in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park
What Hills Are Near Ben Lui?
Ben Lui is part of a chain of four Munros which also include Ben Oss, Beinn Dubhchraig and Beinn a’ Chleibh.
What to Wear and Take
Below, you’ll find our gear essentials for this walk.
- Merrell Moab Mid Gore-Tex Hiking Boots: these are my favourite walking boots. They’re super comfortable and lightweight.
- The North Face Venture Jacket: a fantastic windproof/waterproof jacket.
- Osprey Skarab 30L Day Backpack: a great backpack for walking, which has plenty of space to store your gear.
- The North Face TKA Glacier Fleece Jacket: an excellent warmth:weight ratio fleece jacket that’ll help keep you warm.
- Columbia Convertible Trousers: a value for money pair of water-resistant convertible trousers.
- Avoid the bog: we met a walker, who did an out and back to the bealach between the two Munros to avoid the pathless ascent of Ben Lui. The walker then did two out and backs to reach the respective summits (see image below). Beck and I think this walker is definitely onto something. If we were to do this walk again, we’d take this other walker’s approach for sure.
- Do this walk in the summer: sure, this walk would be epic in the snow. But, the trails would be horribly boggy in winter and when the snow is melting. Additionally, if River Lochy is in spate, you can’t cross and so you can’t do the walk. We recommend doing this walk in summer when the terrain and river are drier.
- Ben Lui plane crash: it’s possible to explore a little further to find remnants of the RAF Lockheed Hudson that crashed on 15 April 1941 during WWII. You’ll find the wreckage on the northeast corrie of the Munro, on an upper section of a gully, closer to the east ridge. Apparently, the wreckage isn’t too far from the normal ascending trail. Albeit, most people do this walk without knowing anything about the wreckage.
Please leave us a comment, we’d love to hear from you.