Ben A’an is wonderful for three reasons: it’s within half an hour of me, I can get up it in about an hour (on a good day) and it has the most beautiful views across Loch Katrine and The Trossachs.
It’s a good day out for visitors, because it’s on the lovely Trossachs Trail (a stunning drive, although you really need two or three days to cover it properly) and there’s a fab restaurant just down the road, where you can partake of some well-deserved, post-climb food at the edge of Loch Venachar. More on that in a bit.
So, when my friend Penny and Ledi's friend Molly came to visit in September 2017, Ben A’an was high on the to-do list. It was a fairly typical autumn day and by the time we got to the top it was cloudy, but the views were still magnificent and, quite honestly, we were relieved to have had it a bit cooler for the climb.
Starting out from the car park, it’s a bit steep at first, then levels out for a while. After that it’s fairly steep the rest of the way, although there are some big stone steps to help you out. Towards the top there’s a bit of a rocky scramble but, all in all, it’s not too tricky. I certainly wouldn’t consider myself fit and I can manage it fine….with periodical pauses. You know, where you pretend you’re taking a break to look at the view, hands on hips, but you’re actually trying desperately to get your breath back? That. I do that a lot when I’m going uphill.
Paws-ing to take in the view ;)
Level-ish bit…and rocky steps
His Lordship is very definitely not keen on wet and muck, but Molly was delighted to find some boggy, peaty patches as we approached the summit - much to Ledi’s disgust!
And then there we were. To the north-west, you can see down most of the length of Loch Katrine and you’ll probably spot one or two cruise ships, including the Sir Walter Scott steamship. Rising above the left bank of the loch, you’ve got Ben Venue, which is another good climb. (I’ve only done that one once and we were in thick cloud by the time we got to the top, so I can’t comment on the view, but apparently it’s also lovely.) And to the south you’ve got Loch Achray and your car park starting point.
Buddies & selfies on the summit
The view in winter (February 2015)
We lounged up there for half an hour before our stomachs began to rumble and by the time we got back to the car park, the rumbling was deafening. So we headed to Venachar Lochside, which is just over 4 miles away, perched on the north bank of the loch. It’s got a lovely, rustic feel and the food is excellent. Everything I’ve ever had there has been delicious but, if you’re after a good Scottish staple, have the Cullen Skink (smoked haddock, potatoes & onions in a thick creamy soup).
Once we’d filled our boots, we were good for very little else other than an evening in front of the telly with a roaring fire and a glass or three of wine, while the dogs toasted their paws. All in all, a pretty satisfying day.
Getting there: From Callander, take the A84 north and at Kilmahog, turn left on to the A821, signed Aberfoyle & Trossachs Trail. The car park is about 7.5 miles along the road, at the end of Loch Achray (pay & display, £3:00 a day as at June 2020).
Sat Nav: FK17 8HY
OS Landranger map: 57 STIRLING & THE TROSSACHS
Terrain: Paths, rocks and some heathery ground, which can be boggy. Wear decent walking boots.
Nearest facilities: You’ve got toilets and somewhere to grab a bite at the Trossachs Pier, Loch Katrine, but I’d highly recommend you go back the way you came and dine at the fabulous Venachar Lochside. (Unfortunately, they don't allow dogs inside, but if you stop at The Byre Inn in Brig O'Turk, that's dog-friendly.)
All maps in the blog are from Google Maps