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Issue 88 - Peak Perfection

Scotland Magazine Issue 88
August 2016

 

This article is 16 months old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Peak Perfection

Keith Fergus takes in the view from Ben A'an

Although there is no universal definition of what constitutes a mountain in Britain, it is generally regarded as a landform that rises higher than 600 metres above sea level. However, Ben A’an – the wonderful little peak above the lochs of Achray and Katrine in the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park – rises to only 461 metres in height. Yet no one can deny that it is a mountain in all but name.

In the 1930s Ben A’an’s steep slopes were relished by climbing pioneers, such as Jock Nimlin, who practised their climbing skills here before hitting the bigger mountains to the north. During this period workers would often hitchhike to the Trossachs, where they would spend their entire weekend climbing, before returning to work on Monday. Today, a walk up through Ben A’an’s lower wooded slopes during spring and summer reveals bluebell, primrose, violets and wood anemone scattered across the woodland floor; while in autumn the landscape is cloaked in oranges, browns and russets.

When visiting, keep an eye out for dipper (a short-tailed, plump bird with a white throat) flitting around the Allt Inneir – they tend to be found close to running water – and other wildlife such as deer, red squirrel, wood warbler, redstart and woodpecker.

On the higher, rocky ledges crouch the bright purple flowers of wild thyme. These beautiful little flowers form conspicuous mats and are most visible between May and August; rubbing the flower or leaves will release the distinctive scent of thyme.

When on top of Ben A’an, one can enjoy a panorama that has been admired since the tourist boom of the early 19th Century; it is a view that takes in the gorgeous surrounding lochs as well as the jagged outline of the Arrochar Alps and the muscular mountains of the Southern Highlands.