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Ben Venue: a quick kick in the Trossachs

Ben Venue: a quick kick in the Trossachs

Postby bobble_hat_kenny » Mon Jan 02, 2017 6:54 pm

Route description: Ben Venue from Loch Achray

Grahams included on this walk: Ben Venue

Date walked: 30/11/2016

Time taken: 5.5 hours

Distance: 14 km

Ascent: 725m

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Due to getting a new kitchen installed plus work commitments, I hadn't managed to get any walking in since the 1st of October and I was getting somewhat stir crazy :crazy: ... however, I had a couple of Annual Leave days to use up before the end of the year, and took the 29th and 30th November off. The weather was well dodgy on the 29th, but the forecast for the 30th looked a bit more promising, and I thought I'd take the chance to tick off Ben Venue which I'd never managed to get round to. A quick kick (or a quick tick, anyway) in the Trossachs sounded just the job for a short late-autumn day :lol: .
For once I got a relatively late lie, and didn't get to the Forestry Commission Ben Venue car park until about 9 a.m. Thankfully I'd remembered to bring three quid in pound coins to pay for the day's parking, and my wee car was duly installed in solitary splendour!
WR1 - feeling a bit lonely in Ben Venue car park.JPG

Before setting off up the signed footpath for Ben Venue, I paused for a moment to enjoy a lovely wintry view of Loch Achray from the entrance to the car park:
WR2 - Loch Achray from edge of car park.jpg

The start of the route is rather intricate, following a well-maintained Forestry Commission path up through scrubby woodland and then back down again to meet the end of the tarmacked private Hydro Board road up to the Loch Katrine dam, then following the Hydro road for a kilometre or so west before branching off left on another well-maintained Forestry path to reach a pleasing humpbacked wooden bridge over the Achray Water. Thankfully, the Forestry Commission has put up some very clear signage at all the main route junctions, so it would be difficult to get lost (even for me :lol: ). There is a fine view of Ben Venue from the first bit of Forestry Commission path, just a short distance uphill from the car park:
WR3 - Ben Venue from first bit of path.jpg

Another nice view of the target peak from the humpbacked wooden Achray Water bridge, with some pleasing wee waterfalls, despite a bit of camera wobble :roll: :
WR4 - Ben Venue from wooden humpy bridge.jpg

After the bridge, another Forestry path heads uphill again to a right turn onto a larger track, and then another well-signed right turn a bit further on to head up Gleann Riabhach through what looks to be recently clear-felled Forestry Commission land. There is a nice vista from here of Ben Venue's mildly craggy southern slopes: fortunately it's not necessary to make a direct assault from this angle!
WR5 - steep end of Ben Venue on approach.jpg

Still admirably well-maintained, the path rises fairly gently up Gleann Riabhach. With the height gain, a good view started to open up back down over Loch Katrine:
WR6 - a bit of a view of Loch Katrine on the way up.jpg

A bit higher up, I reached a wire fence marking the edge of the clear-felled area, with a good path continuing to rise into the open hill country of upper Gleann Riabhach above.
WR7 - upper Gleann Riabhach.jpg

I'd noticed that the Forestry Commission info board back at the car park had mentioned ongoing footpath maintenance work in upper Gleann Riabhach, and soon enough at this point I encountered the start of a long chain of Forestry Commission goretex depot bags variously filled with boulders, gravel and clay, as well as a young chap working on the path about halfway up. I said hello and tried not to get in his way too much. He certainly seemed to have done some sterling work on the path, which was previously very muddy by all accounts, but has now been transformed into a well-behaved wee mountain path most of the way up :clap: .
WR8 - line of Forestry Commission depot bags.jpg

Maybe it's just me, but I quite enjoy having a series of regularly spaced markers (pylons or whatever) as waymarkers on ascent: by counting them off, it seems to break up the ascent and make it seem a lot shorter. But as I say, maybe that's just a personal peculiarity. In any case, the steeper ascent up the less well-maintained end bit of path, with some mildly scrambly sections, seemed to take no time at all, and I soon found myself up at the cairned bealach at around 580 metres between Ben Venue and Creag a'Bhealaich to the southwest. There were some lovely autumn colours down below, and I was reminded yet again how much I enjoy walking in the short days of late autumn: there is something very, very special about that watery, crepuscular, high-latitude light that you only seen to get at this time of year. Well, I suppose there has to be an up-side to all that rain and darkness that we Scots have to put up with :lol: !
WR9 - cairned bealach at 580 metres.jpg

At the bealach cairn, the path splits, with the left branch descending towards Loch Katrine while the right branch ascends steeply west towards Ben Venue's twin summits. There was an interesting view south-west towards Beinn Dubh, a S2K Marilyn I'd like to get ticked off sometime soon, with a snow-capped Ben Lomond in the background and a wee corner of Loch Arklet visible over its shoulder.
WR10 - Beinn Dubh with Ben Lomond in background and a wee bit of Loch Arklet.jpg

Higher up, the path splits again with the left branch this time ascending steeply to Ben Venue's true summit, while the right branch heads for its south Top which sports a trig point. I headed for the true summit first: it proved to be a rather rocky and scrambly wee path, and before long I managed to slip on a particularly greasy boulder. Luckily I took most of the impact not on the Trossachs (which really would have been unfortunate :lol: ) but on my left buttock which is a bit better padded, and no permanent damage was done! Soon enough I was up at the true Graham summit, marked by a small but perfectly formed cairn, and sporting a delightful hazy view down along Loch Katrine, with a couple of wee islands visible at its far westward end.
WR11 - hazy view of Loch Katrine from true summit cairn.jpg

Turning slightly southwards, there was an interesting vista incorporating Loch Katrine, Loch Arklet and just a corner of Loch Chon:
WR12 - Loch Katrine with Loch Arklet and corner of Loch Chon from true summit cairn.jpg

I headed down east towards the high bealach with the south Top. There was a clear view of the south Top with its trig point on the way down, with some wee patches of snow in the foreground:
WR13 - view across to south Top and trig point with a wee bit of snow.jpg

Ben Venue seems to be almost completely surrounded by lochs on all sides - possibly why Sir Walter Scott was so famously taken with it. These two, seen on the way down to the high bealach, were Loch Achray and Loch Venachar:
WR14 - nice view of Lochs Achray & Venachar on way down to the bealach.jpg

Another view of Lochs Achray and Venachar from the south Top trig point:
WR15 - Lochs Achray & Venachar from Ben Venue trig point.jpg

And a rather brooding view back west to the true summit, with a bit of Loch Katrine visible to the north:
WR16 - view back to true summit with a bit of Loch Katrine.jpg

From here, I cut further east on a continuing faint path to a minor top, before doubling back almost due south then bending slightly westwards to cut down steep grassy slopes to re-join the Gleann Riabhach approach path and stoat all the way back down to the car park. All in all, a very enjoyable outing :D !
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Re: Ben Venue: a quick kick in the Trossachs

Postby kmai1961 » Tue Jan 03, 2017 1:24 pm

Nice report, BHK. This little guy might be on my radar over the next few weeks, for a short-day, close-to-home (ish) option.

crepuscular = great word!! :clap: :clap: :thumbup:

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Re: Ben Venue: a quick kick in the Trossachs

Postby dogplodder » Tue Jan 03, 2017 2:58 pm

Reading this has made me envious. :mrgreen:

Will have to visit this hill the next time I'm down there. 8)
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