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Ben A'an


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Also spelled Ben A'n (454m), this fine little peaklet is close enough to the major urban centres of Scotland to be climbable on a mid-summer evening after work.

A victim, as so many Scottish hills are, of language corruption, it should properly be called Am Binnean, meaning the small pointed peak, and it was probably due to Sir Walter Scott that its new name has arisen. The O.S. have also made a small faux pas by suggesting on the map as Ben A'an the slightly higher top just east.

In the heart of that highly scenic area known as The Trossachs, Ben A'an is usually reached via Aberfoyle by driving north over the Duke's Pass to Loch Achray.At the west end of this is a small car park. Cross the road and take the steep path next to a fence. The path then bends slightly leftwards into the wood, near the bank of a deeply cut burn.

Higher still, the burn is crossed and a boggy stretch through pine wood taken, the pain partly lessened by some path work. After about 30 minutes the path finally emerges from the clutches of the dark wood to reveal a fine panorama with the rocks of Ben A'an on the right and Loch Katrine ahead.

This is Rob Roy Macgregor country, his heartland, birthplace, and scene of many of the dramatic ups and downs of his highly eventful life. The best book by far on Macgregor is the scholarly yet highly readable biography by the late W.H. Murray (Canongate). Buy it!

Ben A'an is a rock climber's favourite, with the ripply mica schist rock a delight on a sunny day. Mere mortals and walkers avoid the steepness by taking to the path on the right of the crags. This eventually winds up behind the south face and leads to the rocky summit. There are no difficulties, unless one counts the tasty temptations of blaeberries in the autumn.

If your waistline is in training, the other good time to walk up Ben A'an is in the spring. Mountain flowers will be out, the midges will not, and clear days will repay the steep path work with one of the best views around. On a busy weekend day the sound of laughter can be heard from day trippers on Loch Katrine, perhaps sailing on the wee steamer 'The Maid of The Loch.' Glasgow may be just out of sight beyond the last blue hill, but you will surely be in the right spot at the right time. Just remember to leave enough time for final orders!

 

Maps: OS Sheet 57 'Stirling & The Trossachs Area' at 1: 50 000; OS Sheet 'The Trossachs', at 1:25 000
Distance: 3km
Ascent: 350m
Time: 3 hours
Food & Drink: Aberfoyle has a choice of venues, including the 'Bailie Nicol Jarvie' at the start of the Duke's Pass road (impressive fireplace) and the 'Covenanters Inn' to the west (good place for quiet assignations). Just north of Aberfoyle is the'Queen Elizabeth Forest park Visitor Centre.' Going east from the starting point you will reach the 'The Lade Inn' at Kilmahog (real ales, good food), while a few minutes further on Callander has many amenities at the 'other gateway' to the Trossachs. It also has an independent backpackers' bunkhouse.

 

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