Ben A’an is often called a mountain in miniature – but the word miniature doesn’t mean it’s lacking in challenge. Far from it, in fact!
From the Duke’s Pass this pointed summit rises above the trees. This is almost in defiance of its previously-mentioned nickname, and its height of 457 metres (1,500ft) high. A steep clamber up to a rocky point worthy of the highest peaks will leave you in no doubt that some exercise is in your lungs, and the view is probably one of the best in the southern Highlands.
- To begin, cross the road from the car park and follow a signed path on the other side. Climb steeply and veer left above the tumbling burn of Allt Inneir before crossing it via a wooden footbridge. The well-trodden route continues to more level ground. Make a short detour to the left to find some flat rocks which make a good place for a little rest and to enjoy a view back down to Loch Achray.
- Continue through trees then, after a clearing, the path drops down before reaching a second one. From here the summit of Ben A’an is revealed, apparently unreachable except by climbers with the ability to negotiate rocky cliffs and outcrops. Don’t be daunted – the path is obvious and easily navigated, if steep.
- The real hard work begins by a small burn, which you cross before more uphill, and then an easing of the gradient as the path runs below the summit. It then almost doubles back on itself to reach the two rocky outcrops on the top.
- As a result of your efforts, you’ll find the summit even more spectacular and the view is there to be savoured. It is truly 360 degrees. Starting from the south-east and moving right are the Pentlands, the Campsies, Ben Venue across Loch Katrine with Ben Lomond peeping out behind, the Arrochar Alps, Ben More above Crianlarich, Ben Ledi and even the Ochil Hills.
- After scrambling around the summit rocks you should return the way you came. There is an alternative to the north west although it is not highly recommended, mainly because of the boggy ground.
- Although short, the route is steep and it can be exposed to the elements higher up. Therefore, you should pack full hillwalking gear and take a few breathers.
- Length 4 km (2.5 miles)
- Ascent 350m (1,150ft)
- Time 1.5 to 2 hrs
- Map OS Landranger 57
- Parking Forestry Commission car park sign posted “Ben A’an a couple of miles west of Brig o’Turk on left side of the A821. If travelling over the Duke’s Pass from Aberfoyle, the car park is on the right a few hundred yards after the turning for Loch Katrine.
Bit more strenuous?
Across the tip of Loch Katrine from Ben A’an stand the two peaks of Ben Venue.
Starting from the car park near the Loch Achray Hotel, therefore, is a good way to begin this classic Trossachs walk.
Or very strenuous
It’s not a mountain-top walk but the Mell Circuit, starting near Brig o’ Turk and going up Glen Finglas, is certainly tough going.
The 26.6 km (16.5 mile) route takes in remote country around the slopes of Meall Cala – The Mell.