A short, sharp ascent of Ben A’an, an absolutely outstanding viewpoint in Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park. This was well worth the small amount of effort required to reach the summit of this 450m hill to take in the spectacular views waiting for us. This, combined with a short drive in and around the National Park made for a splendid day of adventure!
After a long, strenuous semester at university, I couldn’t wait to get back in the mountains. With still one exam left to go before I officially stop for winter, I thought it best to spend the day seeing as much as I could while still including a walk to stretch my legs after 12 weeks of commuting, studying and sitting in lecture theatres and computer labs. What better way to start this year’s winter exploits than with an easy – but very rewarding – ascent of Ben A’an, in the heart of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.
We arrived at the Ben A’an car park by Loch Achray at around 1030 after the couple of hours on the road from Ayrshire and wrapped up in several layers due to the temperature being a crisp minus 3 according to the car. Before long, we were on our way up the large path directly opposite the car park (it’s definitely very hard to get lost at any point on this walk) to the start of the marked “Ben A’an Hill Path”.
The initial section of the walk was fairly steep, with good views back down towards Loch Achray, so naturally we stopped every few steps to admire the scenery as well as catch our breath – 12 weeks at university is a long time without any chance for a decent walk!
After around 20 minutes of fairly tough ascent, the path began to level off and we were greeted with our first view of the morning’s objective.
As per the above photo, extensive forestry works have taken place over the past year in this area so much of what was once woodland is now bare. In summer, however, this may mean less midges on what used to be a particularly enclosed, thick wooded area, so no complaints regarding this on my part!
The next 15 minutes or so was back on fairly flat terrain as we approached the foot of the cone shaped hill, so we picked up the pace slightly and again stopped frequently to admire the views in all directions.
The terrain then became steeper once more as we got closer to the foot of the hill. However, the path from the car park to the summit is excellent so this was no real hardship compared to the middle of the Cairngorms, but the ascent was still enough to give our legs a good stretch.
After another 15 minutes or so of ascent, we were very close to the summit. Not far from the summit, the terrain begins to level off and there is a potential camping spot, so I’ll definitely be keeping this in mind for the future. The views began to open up once again and after a short while in the confines of a gully between Ben A’an and its neighbouring hills, we were confronted with extensive views in all directions.
After a short scramble, we had reached the summit. For a hill of only 454m, the views were incredible. To the west was the jagged Arrochar Alps, to the north was the formidable Crianlarich Munros, to the south was Ben Venue and the Campsies and to the east was the rugged hills and beautiful lochs of the rest of the Trossachs.
After a lengthy stop at the summit to take in the awe-inspiring views, we started back down the hill following the same path we had used to reach the summit. The walk down took around 30 minutes due to the excellent path and before long we were back at the car ready for lunch.
After a hefty packed lunch was demolished, we took the car along the length of Loch Achray and part of Loch Venachar to photograph more of the area, but with quickly fading light and a journey home involving the slightly treacherous “Duke’s Pass”, we decided to head home.
Despite not being an official top on any list of hills, this is definitely a highly recommended short walk. As someone who has completed a number of Munros and Corbetts, the views from Ben A’an are still ranked very highly among those from other summits across the country. Due to its central location in the National Park, hills and mountains far and wide can be seen from its summit, making it a photographer’s dream as well as an easy objective for those new to hill walking or those requiring a quick couple of hours to get out and about in beautiful mountainous scenery less than an hour from the city of Glasgow. We were blessed with perfect conditions and couldn’t have asked for a better day for an easy, but extremely worthwhile, trip to the Trossachs!
With the winter break from university fast approaching, I’m looking forward to a number of potential trips over the coming weeks, so keep an eye out for more accounts of adventure in bonnie Scotland!