The forecast for Sunday was to be still, cold and sunny. With snow covering the mountains there was a prospect of fantastic wintery views. So I left the house at 6am with a plan to catch sunrise on Ben Venue, at around 8:38am.
Ben Venue is a popular hill in the Trossachs. Most people either go up from Ledard Farm and Loch Ard on the south side of the hill or from Loch Achray on the north side. The Ledard route is perhaps the more scenic and interesting but the Loch Achray route is a bit shorter. It’s a craggy, impressive little mountain, 727m high. Positioned on the edge of the Trossachs you get a great view of Lowland Scotland and Arran to the south and the Highlands to the north.
It was a cold start to the day, below freezing in Glasgow, which is rare these days, and in Aberfoyle -8C. On reaching the Loch Achray car park at 7:30am the sky was already starting to lighten up. A light covering of snow lay on the hills and a layer of frost crystals coated the heather and birch trees.
The first rays of sunshine met us at the col, 500m up. There I caught sight of the snow covered mountains to the north: the Arrochar Alps and the Crianlarich hills, most notably Ben More and Stob Binnein. The ground was frozen and there was lots of ice on the path. Winter boots, crampons and an ice axe made the ascent safe and good fun.
At about 10am I reached the top, the first to summit that day I reckon. A slight wind made it really cold for exposed hands. Nonetheless I lingered for a while taking in the fantastic views. Ben Lawers and Beinn Ghlas to the north east looked to have a really good covering of snow. It made me wonder whether there was enough for some ski touring – a potential project for this coming week.
On the descent I met lots of people on the way up with the same idea as me. By 12:30 I was in Aberfoyle enjoying a steak pie and coffee from the local Deli (awesome pies!!).