Ben Ledi rises above the plain of Stirling to the North of Callander, a prominent mountain with superb views over the surrounding countryside. It is not a munro but at 2884 feet has the feel of a much larger mountain, due to a number of false tops and the rewarding panoramic view. Ben Ledi is a popular hill for hikers, embedded as it is, in the Trossachs, an area popularised by Sir Walter Scott: Ben Ledi is features in Scott’s poem: ‘The Lady of the Lake’.
If you are attempting the hill the best approach is up Stank Glen and the saddle pass of Bealach nan Corp from where the top can be reached easily, and there is an opportunity to look at one of the sites of folkloric interest. Stank Glen sounds rather unattractive but Stank is a Scottish name for a water course. As with all Scottish Hills be prepared for inclement weather, we went up on a hot day and encountered a thunderstorm on the summit, which quickly dissipated when we descended.
An old corpse road runs over the hill from Glen Finglas to St Brides Chapel near the Pass of Leny. These routes were used to transport the dead to their burial grounds from villages and exist all over the country. They are often associated with folklore and mysteries (for an insight see Paul Devereux’s book ‘Spirit Roads’) in this case a small Lochan known as Lochan nan Corp (loch of the dead) lies close to the Bealach nan Corp (pass of the dead) on the saddle below Ben Ledi and is associated with a story that may or may not be true.
According to local lore a funeral party of 200 people was travelling the corpse road in the dead of winter; they became lost on the high point and accidentally crossed the frozen ice of the lochan which gave way, drowning many of the party. The Lochan is quite small and the story is either an exaggeration, folklore or related to other mysteries. Although the story has been disputed due to the shallow nature of the lochan it is not improbable that anybody falling into the freezing water at this altitude in midwinter would succumb to exposure very quickly. The story is probably worth a little more in depth research.
The meaning of the Ben Ledi has been the sourse of some dispute in the past, which has led to the hill being seen as a holy mountain. According to Wikipedia this was down to a literal translation of Ledi as Le Dai – or hill of god/light – by the Reverend James Robertson in 1791. The Gaelic root is actually Bein Leitir meaning hill of the slope. According to tradition the hill was used as a gathering place for the local people to celebrate the Beltane fires, if this is true then the hill may have had some pagan significance that was suited to being transferred to the auspices of the Kirk in 1791. However without hard evidence it is difficult to tell which came first, but it does add to the ambiance of the hill.
An iron cross just below the summit commemorates Sergeant Harry Laurie who lost his life while on duty with the Killin Mountain Rescue Team in 1987.