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After taking a trip to the Trossachs and climbing Ben A’an during some time off work, I remembered why so many people love escaping from the urban environment of the central belt of Scotland. Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park is beautiful and only a short drive from Glasgow. This week I decided to step it up a little from Ben A’an and take on Ben Venue.
Well, technically that is not true. I arrived at Ben Ledi at 8.15 am and the car park was already full. As I had been torn all week between walking Ben Venue or Ben Ledi, I used Ben Venue as my fallback hill for the day and made the short journey from Ben Ledi to Ben Venue.
What Is Ben Venue?
Ben Venue, meaning “small mountain”, is a hill located in the Trossachs and stands at 727m (2386ft). Although the name “small mountain” sounds pretty simple, Ben Venue is probably the rockiest hill in the area and has a number of steep, rocky inclines to navigate during the ascent.
The summit gives stunning views over Loch Achray, Loch Katrine and Loch Venacher. Although the neighbouring hill, Ben A’an, gets the majority of the attention in this area, Ben Venue actually has better views. On a clear day, Ben A’an, Ben Lomond and other hills in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs area can be spotted from the peak of this hill.
Ben Venue is not a Munro or a Corbett. Ben Venue is a Graham (between 2000 and 2500 feet high).
How to Get to Ben Venue
Glasgow to Ben Venue is just over a 1-hour drive. If travelling to Ben Venue from Edinburgh, the travel time will be between 1 hour and 1.5 hours. This makes the Trossachs a perfect day trip for anyone visiting the central belt of Scotland.
The car park is located along the A821 and can easily be spotted from the main road.
How Long Does It Take to Climb Ben Venue
Ben Venue is a pretty lengthy walk which means allowing between 4 and 6 hours to complete this route. How long it takes to walk Ben Venue can vary from person to person so this is around the average time to complete this hill.
I personally took exactly 4 hours from the Ben Venue car park and back, which I felt was a pretty good time. I was almost constantly walking (being snap-happy along the way) with a short seat for the legs to recover at the peak.
What to Take
Ben Venue requires a pair of walking boots. I naively left mine at home and went over both my ankles multiple times. Failure to prepare and all that!
Plenty of water or alternatives is a must if you are heading up Ben Venue in the summer months. The heat combined with a 14/15km hike can really take it out of you.
And, of course, a waterproof jacket is a must! The weather was constantly changing during my time on Ben Venue.
No map is necessary as the route is clearly signposted and/or the path to take is clear and obvious.
Ben Venue Walking Route
Ben Venue can be accessed from Loch Ard, however, the official car park is located next to Loch Achray, which is where I decided to start the journey.
I arrived early morning and took a quick trip across the main road from the Ben Venue car park to Loch Achray. The water was incredibly still and the surrounding hills reflecting off the water’s surface made for such a tranquil setting.
After admiring the view, I made my way across the road, through the car park once again and followed the marker into the trees. Thankfully the sun began to cut through the grey clouds. A welcome sight when starting any hill walk.
After a short wander through the trees on the rocky trail, I came to a boardwalk and caught a glimpse of Ben Venue in the backdrop.
At the end of the boardwalk is a road which runs perpendicular to the end of the boardwalk area. Turning left and heading along this road leads toward Ben Venue.
This path runs parallel to the Achray Water which joins Loch Katrine to Loch Achray.
After a minute or so, a wooden bridge must be crossed. This leads over Achray Water which has some nice waterfalls running next to the bridge. Crossing the bridge leads into another tree-covered area.
The path weaves through the forest before arriving at a T-junction. Ben Venue is signposted to take the right turn. This path opens up again before reaching another signpost which re-enters a forest area. This is when the path begins to become a little steeper and the quads start to get a workout.
Before I knew it, I had gained some altitude (and a few beats per minute!). The path leads to a clearing which is the last signposted area on the Ben Venue walking route. I initially thought this would be an issue, but the path is pretty obvious throughout.
Immediately after the marker, there is a narrower path that leads off the road and round the hill.
The good news was that the conditions were not far from perfect and the path was only a little damp in places.
The ascent begins at the side facing the car park and actually goes round to the opposite side of the hill.
Unfortunately, at this point, the clouds and sky began to darken again. However, hoping for the best, I continued along the path. The path began to get a little boggy at places but remained relatively solid through this stage of the route.
Eventually, the path opened up and I began to feel like I was on a hill walk rather than a nature trail. The hills began to surround me as I headed along the path round Ben Venue. This makes for a more gradual incline which is more forgiving on the legs.
This was a pretty long walk through a valley between the hills. During this time I did not see a single fellow hillwalker despite there being a couple of cars already in the car park when I arrived.
I did, however, bump into this little fella trying to cross the path. After seeing this little caterpillar on its own long-distance walk, I began to be more conscious of where I was putting my feet!
The further the path continues around Ben Venue, the steeper the incline becomes. Once I reached the other side, there was a slight bit of scrambling up the hill; which always makes the walk more exciting.
The unfortunate added bonus for me was that the rain clouds came in pretty fast and made the rocks somewhat slippy. Although, turning around and looking down at the view of the valley below made the leg burn easily worth it. As you can see, it got pretty gloomy pretty quickly.
I had my eye on a waterfall all through the valley which runs down the hill and creates a small stream that runs parallel to the path. On reaching the top of the valley, I took a quick detour off the path to see the waterfall, which adds an additional piece of character to the stunning landscape.
I hopped back on the path and made my way up the hill again. The path is disconnected by a relatively boggy area where the water must gather. Navigating this cleanly was a pretty tricky challenge for a not-so-elegant me.
A short ascent from this point and I was at what I thought maybe close to Ben Venue’s summit. I spotted the cairn (and more importantly the sun up ahead).
Unfortunately for my legs, this is only a marker which indicates the junction where the two walking routes for Ben Venue meet.
Just to the right of this cairn was the next stage of the walking route. This was more of a climb than a walk.
There are a number of false summits on Ben Venue so most of this walk was carried out with me having no idea where the summit actually was. Upon reaching the top of this climb, another false summit lies ahead.
Finally, after navigating over a couple of false summits, the first proper view of Ben Venue’s peak can be seen. The peak was looking spectacular with the green grass, blue sky and then the rocky formations to add a little contrast to the hill.
A short walk along the path (with a couple of scrambles up some rocks) and I had reached Ben Venue’s summit. At this point, I could take a sigh of relief.
The trig point at the top of Ben Venue sits proudly on top of a nice little rock formation.
There is actually a number of different views from the top of Ben Venue. Ben A’an can be seen at the other side of Loch Katrine. The ferry port can also be seen at the bottom of these two hills.
To the right of this, Loch Achray and Loch Venacher can be spotted stretching out into the wonderful backdrop.
After taking in some of the views, I found a spot behind a rock to shelter from the constant wind. This gave my legs a well-earned rest and time to relax.
After admiring the full 360-degree view, it was time to redo everything. The easiest way back down Ben Venue is to retrace your steps. Thankfully, the views on the way down are just as captivating as the first time.
It was only on my descent that I began passing people every 30 or so meters and the hill began to get very busy. I got back down to the car park and it was now full of people sitting in cars waiting for a space to be free. This made me glad to have been the early bird and got plenty of time on the hill to myself.
If this walk seems a bit long (in time or distance), check out my hike up Ben A’an. This is a shorter, but just as satisfying, alternative. Or give this a go and let me know what you think in the comments!