Ben A’an

Situated in the Trossachs, the iconic pointed peak of Ben A’an is a picture perfect miniature mountain with superb views from the top. With it’s rocky staircases and a well worn, very well maintained path it is a great walk for families and really fun for kids.

Ben A’an isn’t actually it’s own mountain, but a pyramidal rocky outcrop on the way to the top of the 100m higher Meall Gainmheich. (In Gaelic its name actually means “the small, pointed peak”.) But it is the peak of Ben A’an that we all know and love!

The Route

From the Ben A’an car park head across the road. You’ll immediately see a path in front of you that heads steeply uphill, an intense warm up section, with some wooden steps. The views down towards Loch Achray are great from almost the beginning of this walk so make sure you turn around for a look.

After a few minutes the path swings round to the left and up a rocky staircase, skirting the edge of the tree line as it climbs. Cross the little wooden bridge and and the path will continue on the other side of the burn. Eventually you’ll cross the burn again via some big stepping stones.

This section of the walk looks a bit bare because the non-native trees have been felled and are being replaced with native conifers so if you go back in a few years you will see how the native forest is growing. But for now it is pretty bare at this point and you will get a fantastic view of the pointed summit that you are heading towards. There is a nice break from the climb for a while as the trail flattens out before you reach the forest again and the climb resumes. (You will come to a crossroad in the trail: head straight through it.)

Keep following the trail and you’ll eventually poke out of the trees for a minute with a steep climb in front of you. This is a good spot for a snack with the kids and a beauty of a view out over Loch Katrine. The next climb is steep and rocky. It’s basically a rough staircase made out of rocks and boulders. There are a few bits that feel like a bit of a scramble and some of the steps are really tall; it’s not easy for little legs (I’m including my own little legs in that) but the kids just went on their hands and knees for the big ones, or had their daddy pull them up.

You will eventually come to the end of this part and the trail heads round to the left and flattens out. There are some stepping stones to get over a wee boggy bit in the path which the kids enjoyed, and then out in front of you is the expanse of Loch Katrine. Head round to the left again, following the trail, and you will have one last little rocky climb before you reach the summit.

From the top you can see Ben Venue (unless it’s in a cloud) just across the glen, with beautiful woodland alongside Loch Katrine below. Loch Achray is over to your left and you can see a bit of Loch Venachar just beyond. If you know where to look you can also see the summit of Ben Lomond in the distance.

The Highlights

Ben A’an isn’t a really easy walk up a hill, but the path is exceptionally well kept. You absolutely cannot get lost on this walk.

Those views from the top of Ben A’an are absolutely sensational. From the top you can see an often cloud topped Ben Venue just across the valley. You can see the expanse of Loch Katrine and the white Sir Walter Scott steamship looking like a tiny speck in the vast loch, heading back and forth on its sightseeing journeys from the dock. And there are panoramic views of Loch Achray too. For the effort you put in, it is quite spectacular.

Ben A’an is like a natural playground for kids. There are big boulders to climb, wee burns to jump over, logs to clamber along, a little wooden bridge to hide under, stepping stones at the top and little bits of water here and there for kids to play in.

The Stats

  • Total distance: 3.7km / 2.25 miles
  • Ascent: 340m m
  • Duration: Around 4 hrs with young kids. 
  • Difficulty: Moderate. This is a pretty steep hill in some parts and it isn’t the easiest climb if you have little legs (including myself in that) because a lot of the rocky ‘steps’ are pretty high. The smallest (aged almost 4) needed a bit of help at points but coped pretty well the rest of the way.

The Logistics

  • Wheels: Ben A’an is not wheel friendly.
  • Parking: There is a small car park with space for maybe 30 cars. It does get full but if you hang about there are usually people in and out of the car park quite regularly.
  • Toilets: There are no toilet facilities.
  • Clothing needed: The path is well maintained so comfy footwear will do the job. Just take a jumper for the top/something waterproof in case it rains.
  • Dogs: Good for dogs. You’ll come across many, most off lead.

The Location

The Ben A’an car park is situated in the Trossachs on the A821 about 30 minutes from Aberfoyle on one side and Callendar on the other. It’s roughly a 50 minute drive from Stirling and 70 minutes from Glasgow.

The Cost

Parking costs £3 for the day in the car park. Make sure you have coins.

The Verdict

The Ben A’an hill walk isn’t an easy stroll. Take your time and let the kids enjoy it as you go. The views from the top are exceptional and it is a good walk to get there. As I saw a friend write recently, the juice is most definitely worth the squeeze.

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