One of my favourite things about Glasgow is that it is so close to the southern Highlands. You can see the hills north of the city from most viewpoints in the city. But even better than looking at them, is to explore these hills yourself. Ben A’an in the Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park is the perfect day hike near Glasgow. Let’s go!
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Ben A’an is an incredibly popular hike in the southern Highlands. This small hill is less than 1.5 hour from Glasgow, the trail is well-kept and easy to follow and it’s fairly quick to ascend. The summit offers incredible 360 degree views of the southern Highlands – a massive pay-off for a beginner and family-friendly hike.
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Table of Contents
Trail description: The Path up Ben A’an
The trail starts from the back of the car park close by the shore of Loch Achray. From the car park, head back across the road and follow the path up into the woods.
You first hike through a lush forest with tall larch and pine trees. The path can get quite muddy down here, so watch your step. After half an hour or so the landscape changes drastically – the pine trees turn into light birch forest and the muddy trail is replaced by rocky steps. These can sometimes be a bit high – prepare your thighs and knees for a real workout!
About halfway up, the path flattens out for a little breather. You can now clearly see the rocky top of Ben A’an above you. Unfortunately, there is one more steep climb ahead of you. Follow the rocks steps up the gullie and cross the river.
After a short climb, you’ll reach the top of the. The path evens out a bit and circles around the northern side of Ben A’an.
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Just before you climb up the final steps to the summit, take a little detour to the right – there is a little path and you almost can’t miss it. If you do, you might go home without having seen the second-best view from Ben A’an – only beat by the summit. You can see Loch Katrine below, framed by the peaks of the southern Highlands. Across to the left you can see the majestic Ben Venue.
The summit is just a little scramble further and there are plenty of spots to have a well-deserved snack in the sun. The prime spot is a pyramid-like rock overlooking Loch Katrine. It’s a popular photo spot, so don’t hog it for too long.
Unfortunately, to get back down you will have to step all those steps again as there is only this one path up Ben A’an. The beautiful views make up for it though!
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Ben A’an Hiking Guide
How to get to Ben A’an
The only downside of Ben A’an is that there is no public transport connection to the trailhead. You cannot reach Ben A’an by train or bus.
You need a car to reach to the trailhead for Ben A’an. The drive takes you from Glasgow north into the Trossachs and then from Aberfoyle over the winding Duke’s Pass road to Ben A’an. It takes around 1 hour and 20 minutes to drive from Glasgow.
The nearest village is Aberfoyle. There is a Coop supermarket to grab supplies and a few cafes/restaurants to get a meal after your hike.
How long is this hike
The hike up Ben A’an is just over 2 miles (or just under 4 km) for the round trip. It takes about 1.5 hours to the summit and approximately the same time to get down again. The same path leads up and down.
Where to park
There is a car park at the bottom of the Ben A’an hiking trail. It’s run by the forestry commission and costs £5 for a full day of parking. One of the parking metres takes card, but it’s best to have coins as backup. You most likely won’t have mobile connection to use the parking app.
If this car park is full, you can park at the Ben Venue car park, a little further along the road. It’s not far to walk from there to the trailhead, however, take great care on the road as there is no pavement for pedestrians.
The best time to hike Ben A’an
Ben A’an is a beautiful hike for any part of the day, but it would be particularly stunning to reach the top for sunrise or sunset. This means hiking one way in the dark – so don’t forget to bring a head torch! (I don’t recommend using your phone torch because you want your hands free for balance.)
The hikes in this part of the Loch Lomond national park are incredibly popular – and so are the car parks!
If you hike Ben A’an during the day, I recommend arriving early to beat the crowds (before 9 am) or later in the day to hike after everyone else is already back down.
For a detailed description of the trail, photos of significant points and map material have a look on Walk Highlands, by far my favourite online resource for hiking in Scotland.
However, the trail up Ben A’an is easy to follow, so it’s not really necessary to bring a map.
Which map to use
If you want to be on the safe side – or if you simply love maps – Ben Aan is covered on the OS Explorer map OL 46 – available here.
This map covers a big part of the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park, where Ben A’an is located. It’s a good map to have if you plan to go on day hikes close to Glasgow more frequently.
What to wear & pack
The trail up Ben A’an can get quite muddy and the rock steps might be slippy after/during rain. Sturdy hiking shoes are a must.
The key things to pack for a day hike in Scotland are spare warm clothes for the summit, wind- and waterproofs for the odd shower that could always roll in, plenty of water and high-energy snacks such as fruit or nuts.
If you hike later in the day – for example for epic sunset views – bring a head torch for a safe descent in the dark.
What else to do in the area
If you fancy a good meal after your hike, I recommend The Faerie Tree Inn in Aberfoyle, where they serve typical Scottish cuisine – steak pies, haggis, you name it.
If you have a designated driver who doesn’t mind to be left out, the Glengoyne whisky distillery is also nearby and guided tours go all afternoon!
For even more action, check out Go Ape Aberfoyle, which is a tree top adventure park with two of the longest ziplines in the UK.
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I hope you liked this little glimpse of the Scottish Highlands – as you can see you need neither loads of experience nor days upon days to make unforgettable memories during your Scotland trip!
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