Ben A’an & the Unwanted Company

The weather forecast was looking great (for a hungry biting insect). Overcast with no wind: just what those infamous Scottish biting residents love.  A colleague was selling Avon products with Skin So Soft reduced to £1.99. “I’ll take 3 bottles, one of each flavour” says I and the delivery of ‘original, water-mint and silk moisture’ arrived in time for my Ben A’an walk… I showered and smothered myself in water-mint (smelled so good) laid my clothes down and sprayed them too (tip of the day). Got dressed then applied to bits that may have been missed like ears, back of neck etc. Would that be enough to gain me a magical shielding cape to fend off those bitey beasties…?

Picking up my walking buddy from a nearby village we arrived at the well marked Ben A’an car park. We’d been tipped off previously that there were now parking meters in force and purchased our all day ticket of £3 (cards not accepted at time of writing) As always, i parked in a spot ideal for a cup of tea and view to enjoy while resting our weary legs post-walk.

I did this hill climb about 6 years ago and i remember it being easy. Often referred to as a ‘great family climb’ I thought it an ideal start for my friend who was recovering from surgery and ready to venture skywards. The original path has been changed and is now a wide steep track to allow for the large tree cutting vehicles to access ‘no entry’ tracks further afield. That short climb was already quite a struggle. oh dear.. I have never professed to being a great hill walker. I can walk on flat for miles but hills, well, they don’t come so easily. See that wee pointy one? Well, that’s it…

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The very well maintained path offered a thoughtless climb, no need for umming and ahhing at the possibility of a wrong turn. Sturdy stones made the stairway quite luxurious with few people descending at this morning hour making the awkward “excuse mes” and the “hope their’s a burger van at the top” exchanges quite rare. Yes, it is me that makes those comments, i apologise but unfortunately, I can’t stop this habit…

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Very shortly in, lush greenery had enticed the unsociable midgie to start raising their families. With the constant walk by dinner to feast upon it was no surprise that the estate agents of the insect world classed this as ‘prime location’. I felt confident that my cloak of Skin So Soft would protect me from all evil predators. Alas, my cocky confidence was short lived… We were swarmed. Trouser legs grew an extra layer with the vicious wee blighters starving for breakfast prepared to gnaw through quick-dry fabric for a tasty bite of my blue tinged Scottish skin. I had foolishly left a few square millimetres of skin un-oiled on my neck and the next morning, i looked like an extra in a Micheal Jackson video.

The majority of the lower land had been drastically chopped back leaving a prehistoric landscape of stumps and skeleton tree trunks extending skywards their spindly limbs offering safety to buzzards and other needy birds seeking rest.

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The midgies hastened our preferred relaxed pace as we climbed higher seeking a breezy opening. The baron landscape changed to beautiful tones of purple heathers and green ferns, trickling burns quietly making their journey to Loch Katrin. Family’s with toddlers and teenagers bounded past and we enjoyed the journey properly taking time to absorb the fine colours of Scotland.

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We arrived at the top. That was quick! A large crowd had gathered before us and insisted on a drone recording and champagne to celebrate someones birthday. We grumbled momentarily about spoiling the serenity and the overuse of technology then appreciated their excitement at climbing a Scottish hill. I did wonder why Ben A’an was the birthday hill of choice when the likes of Ben Lomond would have been a far more impressive story to spin to friends back home. There were many different accents from around England. I wondered how they had all met and agreed to meet here on this wee hill…

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Loch Katrin

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Loch Venachar we think!

Sandwiches eaten. Pictures taken. We descended quickly arriving at the car park where we stayed for an hour drinking tea and people watching. Great spot… A drive along the side Loch Lubnaig and a wander through the forestry completed the day and we headed home happy and full of Coop granola bars and tea. I also saw a helicopter. I do love a helicopter, especially a black shiny one…

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About Rambling Scotland

Driver of Harvey. Walker of the wilds. Quaffeur of Prosecco. ... In that order
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