Climbing Ben Venue in The Trossachs
Although at 725m, it isn't the highest, it probably has the most rewarding and spectacular views from the top.
There is a fairly long walk in and a bit of scrabbling up and down some rocky bits, but not really very difficult, and if an old codger like me can do it anyone can.
The fact that it is a Graham (so less than 2500ft), may lull you into thinking that it is a gentle stroll but the long walk followed by a steep climb makes for a fairly strenuous ascent, however, the views from the top have to be some of the most scenic in Scotland, and make it all worth while.
The round trip took us the best part of 6 hours, with a long stop at the summit to recover and admire the views, before the midges drove us away.
Ben Venue has a reasonable sized car park, but as always an early start is advised in case it fills up. There is a charge, at the time of writing, £3.00.
If coming from Callander, head north on the A84, and at Kilmahog, turn onto the A821 for Aberfoyle. Follow that road, first along the side of Loch Venachar, and then Loch Achray.
When you pass the car park for Ben Aan on the left, watch out for the Ben Venue car park, a short distance later on the right hand side.
The car park location is shown on the map above.
Ben Venue Part 1
The path starts at the back of the car park and is well signposted.
A boggy section that was previously tricky to cross now has a wooden walkway - although there were signs on it when we were there warning of wasps nests underneath it - we crossed it quickly, on tip-toes! Not easy in walking boots.
When you reach a road after this section, turn left and follow the sign for Loch Katrine dam.
From here on just follow the signs for Ben Venue, crossing the bridge over the Achray water.
Ben Venue Part 2
The path now carries on along the side of a glen - it climbs as it goes, but isn't very steep until you reach the head of the glen where there is a bit of scrabbling up some rocks.
Ben Venue Part 3
When you climb up the head of the glen, there is a boggy area to cross - actually, it was pretty dry when we were there due to the hot summer, but you could see that in wetter weather it could be a bit soggy.
Follow the path until you reach a cairn, and then turn right as the path (such as it is) heads up the steep hill.
From here, the path deteriorates into bare rock a few times, which involves a bit of scrabbling, but all pretty easy.
Now you start to get your first enticing views of Loch Katrine
Ben Venue Part 4
The ground rises and falls, and the path eventually splits - as there are twin summits to Ben Venue. We chose the right hand path as it looked like the main one, and soon we were getting even better views of Katrine.
Ben Venue Part 5
Finally we reached the top, and we were rewarded with fantastic views of Loch Katrine in one direction, and Lochs Achray and Venachar in the other.
It also helped that the Steamship Sir Walter Scott was steaming up Katrine, directly below us.
It surely has to be one of the finest viewpoints in Scotland and we certainly felt privileged to have it all to ourselves (well apart from a few million midges).
We stayed to enjoy the view and some lunch before the midges drove us back down the hill.
Back at the car, we continued round the Duke's Pass (A821) and stopped in at the David Marshall lodge at Aberfoyle for a coffee and a bite to eat.
Now that is a good day out!