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Ben Chonzie traverse

Ben Chonzie traverse

Postby past my sell by date » Wed Jul 28, 2021 4:53 pm

Munros included on this walk: Ben Chonzie

Date walked: 27/05/2021

Time taken: 6 hours

Distance: 16 km

Ascent: 931m

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NB Photos taken on more than one occasion

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I've climbed Ben Chonzie from Invergeldie and from Ballindalloch many times, but never from the other side, so having two friends staying - and thus a second car - we decided to try the traverse. We left a car at Ballindalloch - lots of easy parking - drove to Loch Turret and set out along the lochside track. this is a far far nicer approach to the hill, but it is quite a bit tougher . There are a lot of ups and downs so that by time you reach Lochan an Uaine (ca,. 90 minutes) you have ascended 368m but are only 70m above your starting point. :(
Starting out from the dam
Two views along the lochside
I followed this reverse angle track several years ago en route to Auchnafree Hill: it ends abruptly in a grassy gully, but this is easily ascended to the "plateau"
Another view up the loch
The track crosses a number of side streams
Large clumps of yellow mountain saxifrage were growing around them
Nearing then end of the loch
Looking back down to it from the rising track beyond
The glen above the loch contains the largest most dramatic drumlins (moraines) that I have ever seen in Britain. :D :D :D They stretch for a considerable way up the glen (and presumably further down under the loch which has been enlarged by the dam) as well as 50 metres or more up the hillside: and closing ones eyes it is easy to visualise the retreating glacier with its rotting ice and intertwining exit streams. The mounds would probably look more impressive in Winter - without the vegetation, but I took several photos of them



Impressive ice age moraines in the glen
Looking back down to the loch
My original Munro book suggests that beyond the lochan you traverse diagonally back L up these slopes, but we followed the WH suggestion of heading North - up boggy slopes to the watershed
There is a path marked on the WH gpx map, (heading L from here) but it was NOT on our Anquet one :( so we continued North for a bit and then climbed the steep but easy slopes to Biorach a' Mheannain 755m where there is a good view of the final ascent
Ben Chonzie from Biorach a' Mheannain
We descended to the col (Bealach na Gaoith) and followed the path to the summit to find it deserted - first time ever I think

The Summit
Snow patches just below the cairn
They took a pic of me in the deserted summit cairn
Down to Loch Turret
Snow on the Cairngorms - nearly 70km away: Beinn a' Ghlo further R, and Schiehallion on the L
Looking roughly NE down to the valley of the Almond
It was a bit hazy to the W and we headed too far R before I spotted the cairn that marks the start of the descent to Ballindalloch - neccessitating a slight detour back L
The first 60m or so are quite steep and in deep heather (easier going down than up) But then we traversed easily across to Meall Reamhar and headed down L in front of it
After a short descent on steep grass it was easy going to reach the delighful grassy path that leads all the way down to the finish
By the river
Journey's end - Ballindalloch


I wasn't really happy with our route above the Lochan and Also wanting more pics of the moraines I set out again alone a couple of weeks later
This the head of the glen: the path marked on the WH gpx appears to traverses just below the scree slopes and up to the Bealach Na Gaoith on the L
But if you want to get to that bealach why not head directly for it from the lochan :? :?
So I did; It looked a bit steep at the top, but nothing unsurmountable - until I was suddenly and quite literally sidetracked :shock:
Up to my left - but not visible from the lochan was a wide gully/rake that was not only easier angled and grassier than the route straight up, but also led much more directly towards the summit: :D :D - A no brainer really, so I traversed across and ascended it
Looking directly down it
Another view including the aptly named Lochan an Uaine with with inward track and Loch Turret behind
And another from higher up looking across the head of the glen.
I had no plans to visit the top, so once I was on nearly level ground and could see the way on, I contoured round above Creag Lochain an Uaine to the bealach.

Two views on the traverse looking across to Biorach a' Mheannain: I descended slightly, crossed the bealach and made the short climb up to it
From this point - my route above the lochan
The Ben Lawwers group dominate the view to the NW
From the cairn a faint path headed down NE: I followed it for a bit but then peeled off R down the slopes we had ascended on the first visit
Looking across these slopes and down the glen

Returning to the watershed at the top of the boggy bit, the grassy rake is very obvious
A zoomed view

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My route from the end of the track
When I got home, I looked at a (slightly) more recent Munro book and it says " climb W through the grassy crags" - just what I did.
This is surely the best route from this side :wink:
Last edited by past my sell by date on Thu Jul 29, 2021 6:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
past my sell by date
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Re: Ben Chonzie traverse

Postby Gordie12 » Thu Jul 29, 2021 11:20 am

This is definitely my preferred route for Ben Chonzie. I like to take in Auchnafree Hill as well then turn it in to a circular by crossing the dam to get back to the car.Good to see this route (routes!) in a walk report.
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Re: Ben Chonzie traverse

Postby Graeme D » Thu Jul 29, 2021 10:54 pm

Always good to read words and see pictures from the hill that lit my spark! :D
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Re: Ben Chonzie traverse

Postby NeepNeep » Fri Jul 30, 2021 10:24 am

My first thought when I saw the first map was to immediately post a reply to say that you should go up the cliffs above the lochan as it's much better and really adds to the day....I thought I would read the whole report first and was really pleased to see the postscript note.
Well done - a good report and I agree with Gordie12. My preferred route is via the Corbett, back down to the locahan then zig zag up through the crags similar (actually maybe exactly) like you. This turns a hill with a bit of a 'boring' label into a great horseshoe when done from the dam. Well done going back.
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Re: Ben Chonzie traverse

Postby past my sell by date » Sat Aug 07, 2021 2:12 pm

Thanks for the replies.
by chance I went up as far as Lochan an Uaine again in slighly clearer and sunnier weather, and my companions took a few more pics
Anther picture of the amazing drumlins: With all that crushed rock they must be well drained and full of neutrients - bracken grows on the South side and heather all over
From the point where the track turns sharp L and descends to the lochan, the position of the grassy rake is clearly seen
There are a number of large quartz boulders in this area. Careful examination shows how all the crystalline edges have been ground down and rounded by the ice
I agree this is the nicest way up this hill.
Apart fromn being "drab" until the plateau is reached I find the rocks on some parts of the Invergeldie track quite unpleasant to walk on.
The route from Ballindalloch is complex at the top, but delightful as a descent. From the cairn head directly down to the obvious lump of Meall Reamhar, descend L in front of it and you are soon on the grassy track.
The track up fro Caroglen is also a more pleasant approach in my view
past my sell by date
Posts: 884
Munros:282   Corbetts:85
Grahams:27   Donalds:6
Sub 2000:6   Hewitts:145
Joined: Apr 24, 2013

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