The Jungles of Ben A’an !

Most people go up and down Ben A’an in the Trossachs the same way using what is now a mnaufactured path. However, that’s not very imaginative and it’s possible to make a circular walk using a path that descends the north west side of the hill over rough ground and then through a short bit of forest to reach Loch Katrine, from where you can walk back alongside the loch and then via the “Trossachs Pass”.

So that’s what we set out to do on Saturday. Initially all went well and we made the ascent in good time up the “normal path” which is now stepped in places. A few patches of light drizzle were encountered on the way up but nothing much. Unfortunately our arrival at the summit coincided with the heaviest shower of the day. Normally there are excellent views from up here and the accompanying photographs were taken on a previous visit. We did have partial views but obviously nothing like we could have had.

After exploration of the rocky summit we found the descent path although it was a bit feint in places. It quickly took us down the hill, crossed a burn and then over a stile at a deer fence. Pretty soon after, we encountered a second deer fence at the forest perimeter. No stile this time, so we climbed over. Didn’t remember this from previous visits but perhaps the fence was newish. Into the forest and a feint path took us into the trees. Now the fun was about to begin.

Soon we lost the path, but never mind, all we had to do was keep going on through the trees for about 500m and we would soon be out at the lochside. Seemed quite simple really. Midges had now decided to accompany us on our journey! If you’ve ever encountered the Scottish Midge then you will know that this is not a desirable situation. We picked our way through the trees but then the ground started to get rougher, steeper in places and fallen trees started to block our way, all the time accompanied by the irritation of the midgies. This was not quite so much fun! Unfortunately, we had failed to equip ourselves with a machette and chainsaw before setting out so had to proceed the hard way. With lots of cursing and hard work it must have taken us over an hour to fight our way out through the jungle. Much detouring and backtracking was involved and squelchy wet ground was pretty much the norm.

It was 5 rather miserable looking, midge bitten walkers who finally emerged from the forest on to the water authority tarmac road that runs alongside Loch Katrine.By now of course it was also raining. A brisk walk along the road brought us to Loch Katrine Pier with its very welcome cafe. The remainder of the walk was straightforward but we made it even more straightforward by just walking along the road.

Well it was certainly an adventurous route and all the people who simply go up and down the hill the same way missed out on it. Next time, I need to find the correct route of the path through the forest. I’ve done the circular route before and not had any problems like this, so there is a reasonable route, I’ve just got to go out there and find it again, rather than hacking through the jungle.

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