View from the summit of Ben A'an
View from the summit of Ben A'an

The walk up Ben A'an is one of the most popular in the Trossachs, and for good reason; the going is not difficult, and the rewards are great, with superb views over Loch Katrine and Loch Achray as the payoff for an hour of not too strenuous exertion. This is the perfect walk for families, and even the youngest children will be able to handle the hike.

The walk starts at a signposted car park at the western end of Loch Achray. The car park is right on the north shore of the loch, on the A821 from Callander or over the Duke's Pass from Aberfoyle.

Cross the A821 and join the signposted trail. The path winds through woodlands before joining a stream. The going is easy, and the woodlands are open. If the weather has been wet there can be areas of mud, so good waterproof footwear is advisable.

The peak of Ben A'an
The peak of Ben A'an

After 30-45 minutes of quite mild ambling, you clear the trees and emerge into an open area of ferns and heather. The peak of Ben A'an is now clearly visible ahead of you. My first thought when I saw the peak was 'We surely aren't going up there!' But we were, and it proved to be a lot easier than it looked.

The path now gets quite steep, but even then the going is not that difficult, as stone steps have been created on the path in a pretty successful attempt to counteract erosion. You can't go very fast through this final stretch to the top, but it is not terribly difficult. Our 5-year-old daughter made it, and was pretty cheerful about it, though she did have to be carried when the path crossed over a mountain stream.

At long last, the path emerges at a shoulder of land just under the true peak. A short stroll to the western edge of this ridge reveals Loch Katrine spread out far below. If you are lucky you can see the steamship SS Sir Walter Scott as it carries passengers up the loch.

If you fancy a final scramble it is only the matter of a minute to reach the true summit. The view is magnificent, but it can also be windy, so be prepared for a buffet!

The trail winds through pleasant woodland
The trail winds through pleasant woodland

A note about the weather. It is a cliche, but please, be prepared for anything! We started and finished our walk in bright sunshine. In between, we had driving rain, high wind, and I'll swear I saw a snowflake or two. But then, I had my head buried in my jacket collar so I could have been mistaken.

The weather can change very, very, suddenly. I lost track of the number of times I put my camera away, thinking, "There's no point trying to photograph in this", only to take it out again two minutes later.

Total time:
A reasonably fit person should reach the top in 1-1/2 hours. The entire walk took our family of four, including children aged 12 and 5, about three hours up and down with plenty of stops for rest and refuelling - and an extended stop huddled behind the inadequate shelter of a boulder near the summit when the weather turned suddenly foul.

The view on the descent
The view on the descent

Location

The mountain peak is at
OS Grid: NN508083
map

Forestry Commission parking lot is at
OS Grid: NN508069
map

OS Map:
Explorer (1:25000)
The Trossachs 365

Related:
Loch Katrine

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