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Scotland is packed with rolling hills and this specific little Scottish hill has the most stunning views and is the perfect day hike from Glasgow. Below you will find all you need to know about hiking Ben A’an, from how long to climb Ben A’an to where the Ben A’an car park is located.
Since getting my camera, I had been dying to head up to Ben A’an for some photography and to test my (lack of) skills out. As I was hiking Ben A’an in summer, the sun was shining (even in Scotland!). As soon as I set off I knew that if I didn’t capture any good photos, it was completely down to my ability.
What Is Ben A’an?
Ben A’an is a small hill (relatively speaking for Scottish hills) located not far from Glasgow, making this a great day trip from Glasgow to go hill climbing (check out the Devil’s Pulpit for a less testing day trip). The hill is known for one thing: the amazing viewpoint. The name itself translates to “the small pointed peak”, referring to the pointed rock formation at the top of Ben A’an.
The summit looks over Loch Katrine and Loch Achray and is surrounded by Ben Venue and other hills making it a popular with both locals and tourists.
As far as time goes, Ben A’an has got to be the most efficient way to see a typically stunning view of Scotland. A short drive from the biggest cities in Scotland means you can sample a taste of the Scottish hills, even if you have limited time in the cities.
The hill is also beginner-friendly. There is no need to have hiking experience before conquering Ben A’an. A very basic level of fitness is all that is required.
A popular question for some is: Is Ben A’an a Munro? Unfortunately not. Ben A’an is only 454m above sea level meaning it is not even a Corbett.
How to Get to Ben A’an
Ben A’an is only a 1-hour drive from Glasgow, and between a 1 hour and 1.5-hour drive from Edinburgh (depending on where you are starting the journey).
The only downside to Ben A’an is there is no public transport that will get you there so a car or private transport is required.
There is a designated car park for Ben A’an located on the A821 at the northern tip of Loch Achray. It’s worth noting that during peak season, this may fill up quickly. During the Covid-19 pandemic, on a Thursday, I arrived at 9 am and there were a few cars in the car park. By the time I got back down, the car park was full and there were people trying to bump their cars up on the side of the A821.
The drive itself is pretty picturesque along the A821. If you are lucky enough to have planned this walk on a sunny day, the drive through Callander passing Loch Venachar can be beautiful. I took this route in the early hours of the morning and the loch was like a mirror reflecting the hills perfectly on the water. The later you go, the less still the water will be.
How Long Does It Take to Climb Ben A’an
If you are wondering how long it takes to climb Ben A’an, you might be surprised to hear it only takes around 2 hours to complete a round trip to and from the Ben A’an car park. The route is 3.65km in distance.
I stopped off for around 20 minutes at the top to take in the view from all angles. The summit can be fairly busy so factor in some time for others to be there; most likely in the most photogenic spots. Going by the first and last photo taken, my total time on the hill was 2 hours (including all the stopping), but I was not taking my time.
Also, if you want to take a picnic then you can factor in some time to enjoy a snack when you reach the summit.
What to Take to Climb Ben A’an
A good pair of sturdy boots should be the first on your list. I climbed Ben A’an in a pair of running trainers and was also fine.
Plenty of water for your walk is also a must. It may be a short walk, but the climb makes the legs burn a bit during the climb.
Finally, a waterproof jacket is also a must for the Scottish outdoors. The weather is unpredictable so it is always a good idea to have waterproof clothing, even if it is only a short walk.
And the most important item if hiking Ben A’an in summer: Midge repellent! Although not as bad as some hills further north in Scotland, there are still a number of these horrible pests around halfway up the hill. I recommend going with Avon’s Skin So Soft. For some reason, it is well known that this keeps the midge population away.
How to Climb Ben A’an
This is a detailed route of Ben A’an covering my experience of this hike. The walk starts at the designated car park below and is easy to find. Across the road from the car park, is a stone path which is the first stage of Ben A’an.
Be mindful that the road is the A821 so there may be fast cars passing by.
Although this walk is a pretty quick one, it is also a pretty steep incline for the majority of the walk. It feels like the incline gradually increases with height.
Following the path up the hill leads to a beautiful wooden bridge crossing a small stream of water.
After crossing the bridge, the path leads into the flattest and most open area of the walk. This path leads to the first glimpse of Ben A’an’s peak. This may feel a little daunting at first but the rewards are definitely worth the climb.
Speaking of climbs, the open plain leads to a tree-covered area which is where the fun begins. There are a number of stones creating a stairway up through the trees which make for a fun ascent up the hill, even if the word “fun” is questionable at the time.
At the end of the climb, there is a sharp incline to scramble up. The rocks at this point can be quite slippery, even in summer, so a slow and steady pace is required here.
Thankfully, at the top of this scramble, the path begins to level off through a mini valley. On the left side, there is the final climb before reaching the peak of Ben A’an.
Prior to heading up to the peak, there is a viewpoint located directly ahead. This is the first opportunity for an aerial view of Loch Katrine below.
While facing Loch Katrine, the large hill to the left is Ben Venue which is another great hill in this area. Ben Venue is a longer walk, but with less of a steep incline.
At the other side of the summit is the view over Loch Achray. The view from this side is always less popular than the side with Loch Katrine, yet still a lovely viewpoint.
The peak has plenty of space to relax, catch a breath, and have a picnic. Or give in to the urge to accept the photo opportunity!
The return route back to the car park is exactly the same route you have walked as there is only one way up and down Ben A’an. Luckily, this is not even close to being an issue. The views are just as beautiful the second time on the descent.
In some ways, it’s harder to head back down some of the steeper parts of the walk, so it’s best to just relax and enjoy some of the surrounding views.
Have you ever been lucky enough to take a walk up Ben A’an? Or any of Scotland’s beautiful hills? Let me know in the comments!