#303 – Ben A’an – Little hill, big attitude!

Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park – Ben A’an comes into view
Not very big – but with big views

For the best viewing experience, left-click the images and maps to zoom in to a new window, then exit that window to go back – go on, it really does work!

The Southern Highlands, with Ben A’an in the centre (red flag)

The Scottish Highlands are well known for the grandeur of the scenery and for their magnificent mountains, but UK outdoor folk frequently use British understatement when describing our highest mountains (e.g. Ben Nevis), often just referring to them as ‘hills’.  In the case of Ben A’an in the Trossachs, the word ‘hill’ is quite accurate, with a height of a mere 454 metres, but get to the top and you can certainly see the mountains.

Some of the popular mountains in the Loch Lomond/Trossachs National Park (Ben A’an in the centre)

In fact, Ben A’an is a well-liked little hill.  From the summit, the views towards the Arrochar Alps and Loch Lomond are outstanding, but Ben A’an has another great advantage – it’s a short and easy walk.   Because of these factors, and the close proximity of Glasgow and the densely populated Central Lowlands of Scotland, the popularity of Ben A’an is guaranteed.

The route (in the centre) starting at Loch Achray

On our Scottish trip of May 2021, Chris and I were back in the Trossachs, filling in the gaps of places we had never been to, as well as looking for a short hill day to give Border Collie ‘Mist’ her daily walk – Ben A’an fitted the bill exactly.  Mind you, it is just a little hill, so this is a shorter blog post than usual – hopefully the views in the photos make up for that.

Dawn breaking over nearby Loch Venachar
Starting out for Ben A’an on the Loch Achray path ….
…. with Loch Achray behind
Border Collie ‘Mist’ out front as usual ….
…. with the humans just managing to keep up

Unfortunately, the promise of the clear dawn over nearby Loch Venachar wasn’t to continue, and before long a blanket of cloud covered the sky.  However, the clouds did occasionally lend a bit of texture to the sky as dog and humans set out.  The Loch Achray path was surprisingly steep in places for such a lowly hill, but the views compensated as we gained height.

1Our objective, Ben A’an – after the forest has had a severe haircut!
Looking back to the forestry workings
Ben A’an getting closer

According to Wikipedia, “The name “Ben A’an” is an erroneous Anglicization by Sir Walter Scott. Its original name is uncertain, but it has been suggested that it may have been ‘Am Binnean’ which means “the Pinnacle”, although some sites cite its meaning as “the Small Pointed Peak”.  Recent tree harvesting in the forest at the halfway point wasn’t a good look, but the views of the ‘Small Pointed Peak’ ahead of us more than made up for that.

Approaching the summit from the col to the north
The view from the summit, down to Loch Katrine
The Arrochar Alps, 25 kms away in the far distance ….
…. with the unmistakable shape of The Cobbler in the centre
The Cobbler (from post #301)

Sure enough, the views improved as we reached the col to the north of the summit, before heading on to the top.  Loch Katrine drew the eye at first but then looking at the monitor screen of the camera on full zoom, I could recognise the distinctive top of The Cobbler, 25 kms to the west, where we had been just eight days earlier (see blog post #301).

One of the two lumps of rock on the summit ….
…. with the other one nearby
A popular spot for a selfie (but don’t step back!!)

With the summit being so popular, I had to wait my turn for pics or run the risk of being ‘photo bombed’.  Ben A’an might be a small hill but it has big views and a big heart, and is as good a way as any to spend half a day surrounded by mountains.  A lunch break at the summit filled in another half hour before it was time to head for home (and the next hill!)

Time to head for home

Text and images © Paul Shorrock

About Paul Shorrock

I've been mucking about in the mountains for longer than I care to mention. I started out by walking my local hills, then went on to rock climbing, mountaineering and skiing. Still doing it, and still getting a buzz. I'm now sharing the fun, through my guided walking business (Hillcraft Guided Walking) and by writing routes for other publishers, mainly Walking World and Discovery Walking Guides. Just to make sure I keep really busy, I am also currently a member of my local mountain rescue team.
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8 Responses to #303 – Ben A’an – Little hill, big attitude!

  1. Steve says:

    Wow……. you’ve hit the target with those pics buddy, IMHO….. beautiful, when enlarged we’re there with you, spot on as always, great job!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Steve says:

    Will write soon buddy, take good care you two.


  3. Iain Clark says:

    Not been up that one, will haver to go now, cheers! Iain


  4. What’s it like getting parked for it though? I mean after dawn – more like mid morning? I’m assuming the car park gets full like down here later on? By the way, the dawn photo is a cracker – but I’ll never be out and about at that time of the day!


  5. Parkin is weird this year – we’ve found empty roads and car parks this year, where it was absolutely mobbed last year. Try the ‘midge test’ – if the midges are finished, then the crowds probably are as well.


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