THIS is the shortest Walk of the Week ever but if you have a pre-school child in the family you will love it. Equally, if you want to give someone a fantastic taste of what the Trossachs has to offer, it is a must.
A full mountain yomp it is not, but underfoot the conditions are a long way from a walk in the park and all around are the hills between Loch Achray and Loch Katrine. This should whet even the most town-centred person’s appetite for the glorious Scottish countryside.
I actually intended to walk further and was disappointed to find the trail to Achray Water closed because of storm damage. A sign in the car park before I had paid £3 would have been good but the actual result was a great little route for my young son to start learning (hopefully) how wonderful the mountains of Scotland are.
The walk also proves that getting out of the car and using a muddy or rocky path to enjoy the view brings you much closer to nature. Even on a short walk like this it is possible to watch a startled deer bound away over bog and heather to take shelter in a swathe of birch trees that cover many slopes in this part of the Trossachs. Or, stand still while a buzzard hovers overhead, looking for some lunch.
So don’t be put off by the shortness of this walk, get out there and enjoy what is on offer. Some people on social media have expressed disappointment at the car parking charges but this does allow low-level paths to be kept in good condition, allowing the younger generation to take their first steps in the mountains.
DISTANCE A mile.
HEIGHT CLIMBED 50ft.
TIME Up to 1 hour.
MAP OS Landranger 57.
PARK Use the Forestry Commission’s Ben Venue car park (£3 charge) near Loch Katrine. If approaching from Callander go north for about a mile on the A84 to Kilmahog and turn left onto the A821. The car park is about seven miles along, past lochs Venachar and Achray.
From Aberfoyle go five 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 and Ben Venue ahead. Behind lies Loch Achray.
Make sure you take a detour on the left, up a path to the top of the knoll and a great view of Loch Achray. Return to the main path and drop down to a junction – you can normally go right here to reach Achray Water although it is currently blocked by trees and branches blown down in this winter’s storms. Instead, continue ahead to complete a loop which leads back to the car park.
REFRESH At the Trossachs Pier you will find a pub and cafe. Towards Callander there is the Byre Inn, on the west side of Brig o’ Turk.
WHILE YOU ARE IN THE AREA Over the Duke’s Pass, along the A821, is the David Marshall Lodge Visitor Centre, just before Aberfoyle. It also has a Go Ape – a collection of rope bridges, tarzan swings and a zip slide. www.forestry.gov.uk or www.goape.co.uk.