Walk 72 – Ben A’an Circular Walk, Loch Achray – 4 miles

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The iconic pointed peak of Ben A’an in the Trossachs is a fantastic wee climb. With a clear and well-worn footpath all the way to the top, the views of Loch Katrine and Ben Venue are nothing short of spectacular.  This particular route forms a loop, taking you back down the other side of the hill, through some forest to the banks of Loch Katrine. 

  Parking available in Ben A’an Car Park just off A821/Dukes Pass. A small charge applies although at time of writing the machine had a ‘Not in Use’ message on it. Please check with the Forestry Commission before setting off in case of any closures due to forestry works.

route image  Route: Exit Ben A’an car park at the main entrance and directly across the road you will see the footpath for Ben A’an heading in a north-east direction. After an initial steep ascent lasting half a kilometer, the path levels out. At 265m elevation there is a crossroads – continue ahead (North West) to go across the hillside. At 290m elevation there is another steep ascent involving a scramble. The path then circles round to reach the summit of Ben A’an. Descending via the same initial footpath, after 100m and before you reach the scramble, look out for a lesser-used grassy track on your left. Follow this downhill (North West) towards the forest, enjoying the views of Loch Katrine as you go. You will reach a stile over a high deer fence. Do not cross. Instead, turn left (West) and walk down the fence-line, keeping the fence on your right-hand side. After a distance of 900m and an elevation drop of 220m, you will emerge out onto a minor road on the banks of Loch Katrine. Turn left (South) to walk along the road. After 1.3km you will reach the car park at Trossaschs Pier. Walk through the car park – the road becomes A821/Dukes Pass. You can either keep to the road all the way to Ben A’an Car Park (1.6km) or you can take a slightly more scenic and longer route (2km). More scenic/longer route: Walk along A821/ Dukes Pass for 500m, turning right (South West) onto a minor road known as the Pass of Achray. Almost immediately turn left (South East) onto a footpath. Follow this mix of earth path and boardwalk for 800m to reach a small car park (300m along there is a fork – you can go either way). Leave the car park from the main entrance and turn left (NorthEast) onto A821/Dukes Pass, then right (East) at the end of the road. Ben A’an Car Park is 300m along on your right-hand side.

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WALK REPORT: 22nd June 2016

I was super happy when my friend Laurianne suggested we do a hill together! Having met when we both worked for Hilton hotels many moons ago, we have remained in touch and I just love her positive outlook on life and passion for the great Scottish outdoors. A beautiful woman inside and out. We were long overdue a catch up and I had some hills to tick off my 7 Summits Challenge list so this seemed like the perfect solution. Ben A’an had been recommended to me by one of my most loyal Facebook page followers and I can certainly see why!

Laurianne had climbed Ben A’an before and really enjoyed it however was initially disappointed this time due to the forestry works which had recently taken place around the lower section of the footpath. She had fond memories of hiking through a pretty woodland but it now resembled more of a tree graveyard. Fortunately once past the initial climb we did enter some woodland which was far more pleasing to the eyes.

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On the plus side the lack of trees gave way to a lovely view back to Loch Achray…. if you can ignore the rubble in the foreground
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Tree graveyard
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Far more pleasing to the eye once you walk a little further. Laurianne tells me the first section used to all be like this. Very pretty.

The scramble to the top was exciting! Too much chatting meant that it wasn’t long before I was out of puff but it is a short section and before we knew it we emerged out onto flat ground and the first views of Loch Katrine opened up beneath us.

From there the footpath to the summit is clearly visible and the going is easy enough.

The views from the summit are stunning and we spent quite some time up there chatting and admiring our surroundings, pondering how grateful we are to live in a place of such beauty.

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Scramble
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View north along Loch Katrine
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View west towards Ben Venue

The return route was completely different to the climb. With a view of Loch Katrine almost the entire way and varying terrain, it swung between being wet and boggy out on the open grassy hillside to bone dry inside the forest. We made the mistake of climbing over the deer fence using the stile, which, let’s face it most people would as why is it there if you aren’t supposed to go across it?! We have no idea but once across it and down by the forest there was no way through so we had to retrace our steps, climb back over the fence and headed into the forest from the other side. We were happy to find a little footpath in here which actually led us all the way down to the lochside. It was pretty steep at some points and there were fallen trees blocking the path at a few places but neither of us minded, we were enjoying the quirkiness of it.

The road along Loch Katrine to Trossachs Pier car park is very easy going and the scenery makes for a pleasant end to the walk. You may see the Sir Walter Scott steamship or the Lady of the Lake cruiser out on their regular sailings.

I knew from my map that there was a footpath we could use which runs parallel to the road and when we reached it we were both happy to try it out: after our exciting hike the road was apparently a little boring :-) I am glad we did as it turned out to be a boardwalk with pretty wildflowers all around.

I really enjoyed this day and plan to return to Ben A’an with my children, most probably sticking to the main route up and back which is a shorter overall distance.

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Path through the forest following the deer fence all the way down
A boat trip on Loch Katrine
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Boardwalk path – a much nicer way to end the day than walking along the road.

2 thoughts on “Walk 72 – Ben A’an Circular Walk, Loch Achray – 4 miles

  1. Good to see someone going for the circular route on this hill rather than up and down the same way.
    I know what you mean about the stile. Why is it there? Made the mistake recently of crossing the stile, then climbing across the next high deer fence into the forest and trying to make our way down the hill through the forest. Not to be recommended.

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    1. Hi Susan thanks for your comment. I know, it’s so tempting to cross it! It just be for access to the forestry works or we wondered if it had perhaps been the way down before the forest existed, but then the fence looks too new for that… It’s a mystery! As long as you don’t cross its a really nice walk down to the Loch though.

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