Scotland might be my home country but I’m ashamed to admit that, at 27, there is still so much I haven’t seen. When I started travelling last year, I promised myself that every time I came back to Scotland, I would try and fit in as much as possible – to travel in my own country as I would if I were abroad. I’ve been back from Sardinia for just over a month and, despite the typically non-summery Scottish weather, I’ve managed to fit in a lot of backyard travelling…including a day exploring the beautiful Ben A’an.
By Scottish standards, Ben A’an (from the Gaelic for ‘the small, pointed peak’) is a “wee” mountain, standing at just 1,491 ft (454 m), but it what it lacks in size it makes up for in views…offering one of the most beautiful vantage points across the Trossachs.
Ben A’an is positioned in between Loch Katrine and Loch Achray, just past the little village of Brig o’ Turk (if you’re hungry near here, head to one of my favourite pubs – the Byre Inn – for great local food and beer) on the A821. There is a small Forestry Commission carpark on the left hand side (if you’re coming from Callander/Brig o’ Turk direction) which costs £1 for an hour or £3 for a full day. The climb is listed as a “gentle” 1-2 hours to the summit, but you’ll want to leave yourself plenty of time for taking in the incredible views at the top once you get there.
The walk begins just opposite the carpark, on the right-hand side of the road, and after around 10 minutes, you’ll be rewarded with stunning view of Loch Achray and Tigh Mor Trossachs hotel behind you (it’s got a little touch of Hogwarts about it!)
We visited in August on a rare, sunny Scottish day…and the views were unbelievable. The trail was actually pretty busy, considering it was a weekday, and there were plenty of families, dog walkers and tourists around.
The first part of the walk levels out at the foot of the Ben (where there is a handy rock in case you need to catch your breath before attempting the summit). After that, it’s a slightly steeper, rocky climb through the trees, following a small river, before you emerge onto the purple and orange heather-covered hill.
As you round the top of the Ben, Loch Katrine is laid out before you, with the peaks of Ben More, Ben Lui and even as far as the Arrochar Alps easily visible on a clear day.
The famous Sir Walter Scott Steamship can be seen ferrying tourists up and down Loch Katrine (if you feel like taking a boat, Trossachs Peer at Loch Katrine is a short drive from the Ben A’an carpark…just be aware that the road is very narrow and winding…and that Lochs & Glens tour buses stop for no one!) and, if you are brave enough to climb onto the highest rock on the summit of Ben A’an, you’ll have an incredible 360 degree view of the Trossachs below.
We stayed for a long time at the top (you have to make the most of a sunny day when you are in Scotland!) and after ambling back down, we popped to the Lade Inn in Callander for a coffee before finishing our day of “backyard” exploring with a cool-down and some wild swimming in Loch Venachar.
BEN A’AN NEED TO KNOW
Getting there and away:
It’s easy to get to Ben A’an from Stirling, Callander and Aberfoyle via car, or alternatively you can jump on one of the many (mad) bus tours around the Trossachs. Check out Visit Scotland for more information.
If you fancy extending your trip in the Trossachs (to make time for more exploring) Tigh Mor is the closest hotel to Ben A’an. There are lots of B&Bs in Callander, and a hostel in Stirling if you’re looking for more budget-friendly options.
FOOD & DRINK
The nearby Byre Inn has really great food and a lovely old-world-pub atmosphere (try the haggis balls!) or the pier at Loch Katine has a slightly more expensive, more touristy cafe. There is also a small tearoom in Brig o’Turk, which was sadly closed for the day when we visited.