I set off from home at 05:00 this morning, destination the Trossachs. It felt good to be heading out to the hills after what I think is my longest break from the hills since 2001; a whole 25 days since my last hill!

Ben A'an has been on my radar for some time. It doesn't make any of the major hill lists; it is not a Munro, Corbett, Graham, Marilyn or even a HuMP! It is however a great hill and outstanding viewpoint.

I parked in the car park at the West end of Loch Achray. It looks like the Forestry Commission will soon be charging £3 for parking here. Today the signs were covered up and no payment machines are yet in place .

Hills: Ben A'an and Meall Gainmheich
Date: 13th March 2015
Company: Just myself
Distance: 7.5km, Ascent: 610m
Time: 3Hrs 30Mins

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

From the car park, I made my way up the track leading to Ben A'an.

Looking back to Ben A'an car park and Loch Achray:

During the initial ascent through the forest, I began to wonder why Ben A'an is considered such a great hill. The track through the forest was very wet underfoot. There were lots of wet tree roots to avoid and many slippery stones.

Ascent through the forest:

Looking back to bridge:

After only fifteen minutes of walking, I stood on a slippery rock and subsequently went flying. I landed awkwardly pulling a thigh muscle/ligament in the process. I continued on but I soon had to stop and take some Ibuprofen. Not a good start to my weekend's walking .

Wet underfoot:

Any reservations I had about the quality of the hill were soon vanquished when I caught my first glimpse of Ben A'an .

First views of Ben A'an:

Ben Venue looks a really nice hill; another Trossachs hill I have yet to climb.

Looking across to Ben Venue:

Ben A'an:

The ascent of Ben A'an is steep but up a very well-constructed path. It was nice to walk on stones instead of mud.

Ben Venue and Beinn an Fhogharaidh:

Looking down to Loch Achray:

Loch Katrine:

Ben Venue:

I spent some time at the summit admiring the views and taking lots of photos. The summit of Ben A'an is definitely a great viewpoint. I visited both potential high points.

Ben Venue and Loch Katrine:

Panorama from summit of Ben A'an:

At the summit of Ben A'an:

From Ben A'an, I next made my way across to Meall Gainmheich, the Marilyn summit. I initially followed a faint narrow path and thereafter followed various sections of vehicle track with some heather-bashing thrown in too.

Looking back to Ben A'an:

Heading for Meall Gainmheich:

I found negotiating the rough terrain quite painful. I therefore took my time. On reaching a six-foot deer fence, I thought I could see a gate about 0.5km in the distance. I therefore followed the fence until I reached the gate.

Gate through the deer fence:

During the ascent, I could see a high mountain to the right of Ben Venue. I guessed it was Ben Lomond.

Ben Lomond (zoom):

There was another small fence just before the summit which I did climb over.

Ben Ledi from the summit of Meall Gainmheich:

Ben Venue and Ben Lomond from the summit of Meall Gainmheich:

From the summit of Meall Gainmheich, I returned towards Ben A'an and then back down to the car park at Loch Achray.

Looking back to Ben A'an:

I was back to the car by lunchtime so I needed another easy hill to ascend in the afternoon. I wanted a hill with a good track and so opted for Sgiath a' Chaise, heading up the forestry tracks from Strathyre.

I drove to Strathyre and parked in the village car park.

Hills: Sgiath a' Chaise
Date: 13th March 2015
Company: Just myself
Distance: 9.2km, Ascent: 535m
Time: 2Hrs 40Mins

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

From the car park, I crossed over the A84 and began my ascent of the hill.

Track from Strathyre:

During the initial ascent I took a very short detour to have a look at a memorial which is located just off the main track.

Memorial to a Forestry Commission worker:

I then followed the forestry roads with the intention of walking them as far as the transmitter just below the summit.

Following the forestry roads up the hill:

Frog spawn:

However, I came to a Health & Safety sign advising no unauthorised persons allowed beyond this point. I ignored the sign, as I normally do, but decided to keep a lookout for a firebreak or shortcut track.

No unauthorised persons allowed beyond this point:

I saw a narrow vehicle track heading up the hill so I decided to take a chance and follow it hoping that it would not come to an end in the middle of the forest.

Track up through the forest:

After ascending circa 75m, I came out of the forest into an area that had been cleared of trees. My heart sank as I didn't fancy trying to negotiate lots of tree stumps and branches with a gammy leg.

Looking across to Benvane:

However, I could see an old track and so decided to follow it. This track avoided all the tree stumps and branches .

Ascent of Sgiath a' Chaise:

Ascent of Sgiath a' Chaise:

Looking towards Stob Binnein:

I reached the end of the track at a height of 568m. Only 60m or so ascent to go to reach the summit. As I made my way up the hillside, I came to a six foot deer fence. Again I didn't fancy climbing it and so made my way along towards the transmitter where I hoped there would be a break in the fence or at least a stile.

Approaching the transmitter:

No such luck. I had to climb over the fence.

Over the deer fence:

Beyond the fence, it only took five to ten minutes to reach the summit, which provides good views across to Stuc a' Chroin and Beinn Each.

Stuc a' Chroin and Beinn Each from the summit of Sgiath a' Chaise:

Beinn Each from the summit of Sgiath a' Chaise:

From the summit, I returned to the car via the same route except for taking a wee shortcut near the base.