Na­tional park cel­e­brates ‘wee hills with big views’

The Oban Times - - Outdoors -

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.

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