Ben Venue Walking

The Trossachs may be a prime destination for tearooms and coach parties, but don't be fooled - there's still quality hillwalking to be found here. Ben Venue is a pint-sized hill but one of full-fat character, rising steep and rugged from dense woods to offer expansive views over Loch Katrine and the sawtoothed Southern Highlands skyline. The standard ascent from the Achray side is a well-used path, a bit heavy on the pine plantations and a very roundabout route to the top. It'd be a shame to go down the same way, so instead the descent described here makes the best of Ben Venue's wilder and more attractive northern side, leading you on a tough off-trail leg to the little-trodden Bealach nam Bo.

Loch Katrine and the southern Highlands from Ben Venue  © Dan Bailey -
Loch Katrine and the southern Highlands from Ben Venue
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Detailed description

NN5007206795 Follow the private road through attractive woods by Achray Water, then take an obvious path on the left to cross a humpbacked footbridge over the river. The path then leads to a junction with a forest track, and a signpost for Ben Venue. Follow the forest track for a few minutes, then go left at a path junction marked with rocks.

NN4926906378 Follow this trail uphill through mature pines before descending slightly into Gleann Riabhach to meet another trail (the route from the hotel at Loch Achray). Turn right onto this to head up-glen through the pine woods on what feels a circuitous and indirect way up the hill. The path is clear and easily followed, and crosses the occasional forestry track (note the Terrain notes re. possible detours). Eventually emerge from the trees into the upper glen, climbing to a broad boggy hollow and then on up to a large cairn at a path junction in a col on the skyline.

NN4690006083 Turn right to climb more steeply up the knobbled ridge-line. Pass over a minor top, then take either of two paths (the left hand version has better views) to reach the cairn on Ben Venue's summit. From here the outlook across Loch Katrine to the Crianlarich peaks is superb.

NN4744306331 A well-trodden path now winds into the gap between the main summit and Ben Venue's marginally lower eastern top. Note: it's possible to continue on the path up to this latter top, before descending a vaguer trail beside a burn down the mountain's northeast flank - as noted in various guidebooks. However the longer variant via the Bealach nam Bo described here is more interesting: From the gap between the summits head roughly north down a grassy depression between craggy outcrops. This soon develops into a burn, which is best kept to your left as you descend steep rough ground, taking care to avoid the occasional rocky step. Traces of path on this flank of the hill are minimal, and probably made by deer rather than people. Reach easier-angled slopes on Druim nan Sasunnach, then just follow your nose along the high ground covered in heather and boggy bits, descending over a series of lumps to reach the low col of the Bealach nam Bo, a historic cattle drover's route.

NN4802407503 Descend the col's southeast flank into a very pretty and secluded area of jumbled boulders and wooded crags above the eastern end of Loch Katrine. The ancient drover's path now runs through the bracken-cloaked knolls at the foot of Ben Venue to reach the sluices at the outflow of Loch Katrine. Stay on the near side of the water to regain the forest track described in stage 1, which soon leads back via the footbridge to the car park.

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