On a beautiful September morning, we found our way to the top of Ben A’an, that modest but rather stunning hill in the Trossachs. If you want a short walk, I commend it to you, though do as we did and get there early. It’s a popular ascent, and by going early in the morning – we had another walk planned for the afternoon – we beat the crowds and had the summit to ourselves.
Modest Ben A’an might be, but its a scenic route to the top, with views back down to Loch Achray, which itself features in the history of Scottish stravaiging and hillwalking. There was a popular howff down there where the working class walkers from Glasgow etc. would bed down for the night in the 1920s/30s often having got there after a hard week’s work.
Those climbers of earlier days have long been an inspiration to me, fortunately some left memoirs of their exploits. I never walk in Scotland without thinking of them. Out of their walks and battles of old came the Scottish Land Reform Act (and what a pity that elements of that legislation are being chipped away by the powers that be). Their adventures are one of the most potent aspects of recent Scottish history.
Ben A’an is an Anglicization of Am Binnean, allegedly by Sir Walter Scott, who culturally reinvented the Trossachs, and Scotland as well, in such works of literature as The Lady of the Lake and Rob Roy.
It’s a steep and steady climb to the top, through some gorgeous scenery. accompanied by falling water for much of the way.
And what a beautifully shaped hill Ben A’an is from this side. From its shape alone it deserves to be called a mountain – it has a worthier profile than many a larger hill.
It also has, I think, one of the finest view in Scotland, right along Loch Katrine to the Arrochar Alps. We had a perfect morning to see that view, and the summit to ourselves. It brought back many memories of over half a century ago when I saw these hills for the first time.
By the time we were descending more walkers had started to arrive, a united nations of walkers, not just Scottish and English, but from Europe and the United States. All sharing a beautiful Scottish morning.
(c) J and A Bainbridge