SO, SPRING is sprung, the lambs are in the fields and the flowers have started to bloom.
There really is no better time to get out into some of the wonderful Scottish countryside which is right on our doorstep.
The passing of winter, and its storms, also means many paths which were blocked by fallen trees have now been cleared and are ready for a summer of happy walkers.
One place is by the Achray Water in the heart of the Trossachs. A Walk of the Week was cut short in January because of storm debris but you can now take full advantage of this great family stroll.
If you like flowers, mountain views, waterfalls and little dells where one could imagine fairies would live (according to my daughter), this is the place for you.
Some may wish they were going up Ben Venue (of which more later in the year) but enjoy this low level walk for what it is – a brilliant example of what the Highlands of Scotland have to offer.
DISTANCE 3 miles.
HEIGHT CLIMBED 400ft.
TIME 1 to 2 hours.
MAP OS Landranger 57.
PARK The Forestry Commission’s Ben Venue car park (£3 charge) is near Loch Katrine. From Callander; go north for about a mile on the A84 to Kilmahog and turn left onto the A821. The car park is about 7 miles along, past lochs Venachar and Achray. From Aberfoyle; go 5 miles north on the A821 from Aberfoyle, over the scenic Duke’s Pass. Just past the Loch Achray Hotel, turn left into the car park.
IN SUMMARY Leave the car park on a path going up to the right. This leads up the side of a heathery knoll with views to the right of Ben A’an.
At the top of the knoll, on the left of the path as you make your way round, there is a good view of Loch Achray before you continue on the path, downhill. At a junction, go right to follow a path further downhill with a great view of Ben Venue ahead of you.
At the end of a long set of duckboards which lead over marshy ground you reach a road owned by Scottish Water. Go left to follow this minor road close to Achray Water. After a few hundred yards a slate sign for Ben Venue points you down a path to the left. The path leads to a bridge over some dramatic waterfalls. On the other side of the bridge the path leads up to a track, where you should go right. A few hundred yards further on two boulders on the left of the track mark the start of a path which climbs fairly steeply up though forest. Although surrounded by trees, the moss covered rocks and bubbling little burns give this section a serene feeling, so don’t be worried if you need a few breathers on the way up.
The end of the path drops steeply to a track, where you go left. At a junction go straight on to continue downhill. At the next junction go left, following a sign for the Ben Venue car park. The track leads you back to the path above the bridge over Achray Water. Go right to retrace your steps to the junction above the long set of duckboards. Go right here for a slightly easier last section before the car park.
REFRESH There is a pub and cafe at the Trossachs Pier on the edge of Loch Katrine. Towards Callander, try the Byre Inn at Brig o’ Turk.
WHILE YOU ARE IN THE AREA At Loch Katrine (www.lochkatrine.com) you can go on a cruise on the steamship Sir Walter Scott, hire mountain bikes or enjoy some refreshments.