National park celebrates ‘wee hills with big views’
YOU don’t have to be an experienced hillwalker to enjoy Scotland’s most spectacular views.
Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park boasts a range of ‘ wee hills with big views’ that can be enjoyed by people of all levels of fitness and experience.
With excellent transport links and less than an hour’s drive for 50 per cent of Scotland’s population, it is easy to get to the park and start enjoying these little gems.
Ben A’an: in the Trossachs, the 4km walk up this lovely peak offers a surprisingly big experience with many of the ingredients of a mountain hike such as an atmospheric forest, open moorlands, views of crags and a superb vista of the surrounding landscape at the top.
Dundurn: in the north of the national park, Dundurn, is a rocky knoll only 112m high where a Pictish Fort once sat. Filled with local history, en route to the top you can visit a burial ground and the remains of St Fillan’s Chapel, dating back to the 1300s.
Gouk Hill: on the east of Helensburgh, Gouk Hill is accessible by train from both Glasgow and Edinburgh, and sits on the western edge of the national park. The hill is 277m high and forms part of the long- distance coast-to- coast walk, the John Muir Way.
Glen Striddle hills: also on the west side of Loch Lomond, these hills offer a fine hike from the village of Luss and to the highest point, Beinn Dubh at 657m.
You could choose to simply walk out and back on the same route, or complete a 12km horseshoe circuit taking in another hilltop, Mid Hill at 623m. Outstanding views of Loch Lomond will be spread out beneath you.
Ben Gullipen: starting from the popular town of Callander, this is a 414m hike up a well- established path. The reward for this wee challenge is breathtaking views of the Wallace Monument near Stirling, Loch Venachar, Ben Venue and Ben Ledi, as well as the Munros Stuc a’Chroin and Ben Vorlich, and the rolling Menteith Hills.
Conic Hill: a short but fairly stiff 361m climb beginning in Balmaha, Conic Hill offers magnificent views of Loch Lomond and its islands starting from about a third of the way up a well-trodden path. It comes with the added bragging bonus of being able to say you’ve walked part of the West Highland Way, one of Scotland’s most famous trails.
Callander Crags: If you’re looking for something a little less challenging, these crags offer a very pleasant walk through beautiful woodlands, over the crag tops and to a cairn at 343m.
Many people also take in a visit to the stunning Bracklinn Falls, a short walk up the road from the car park start point.
Inchcailloch island: If you fancy a boat trip, cross over from Balmaha to the enchanting Inchcailloch island, and then follow the easy-going waymarked trail up to the island’s highest point (85m).
From here you’ll get a panoramic view of the peaks of many mountains including the iconic Ben Lomond. Inchcailloch is part of a National Nature Reserve and sits on the Highland boundary faultline that separates Scotland’s Highlands and Lowlands.
Brendan Paddy, director of Ramblers Scotland, said: ‘We want everyone to feel confident and inspired to enjoy Scotland’s amazing landscapes on foot, so it’s fantastic to see the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park promoting the wonders of its wee hills with big views.
‘It’s a great reminder that you don’t have to be a hardened hillwalker to experience some of the park’s most iconic views, and enjoy all the health and social benefits of walking.’
To find out more about these ‘ wee hills with big views’ go to www. lochlomond- trossachs. org/ wee-hills.
Among the ‘wee hills with big views’ are, clockwise from above, Ben A’an, Dundurn, the Conic Hill and Inchcailloch.