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Munros vs. Donalds: Clash Of The Titans

Munros vs. Donalds: Clash Of The Titans


Postby Craiging619 » Sun Sep 03, 2023 12:26 pm

Route description: Ben Chonzie via Glen Lednock

Munros included on this walk: Ben Chonzie

Donalds included on this walk: Blairdenon Hill

Date walked: 30/08/2023

Time taken: 5.85 hours

Distance: 20.9 km

Ascent: 1040m

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On Wednesday I had some spare annual leave left over (by working remotely for a week in Jakarta and clawing some extra days back). I ended up doing a bit of a bespoke split shift: on Tuesday afternoon I took 1/3 of a day off (we went to feed the ducks at Hogganfield Loch with another family). This left 2/3 of a day for Wednesday, and I would have to be back at 3.45pm so our child could go to her swimming class.

12.5km 712m 3hrs 25mins

Ben_Chonzie_via_Glen_Lednock.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



For some reason I had never got round to Ben Chonzie. I think I'd always provisionally left it for a group hillwalk, to make sure somebody else can bag a straightforward Munro, but it's always difficult to find the right time to round people up for a group hillwalk (and also I just prefer solo walks - it's a totally different feel). I had put off Chonzie for too long. It would be fine to climb it alone - it's just a short drive anyway - but I'd much prefer to tag another hill on at the end, so I felt less guilty for not inviting folk. Auchnafree, maybe? I never properly summited it in 2015, due to a botch at the two cairns, so I always promised to return one day. But it sounds a bit rough between Chonzie and Auchnafree. Creag Uchdag, the Corbett on the other side? Nah, that's a 6km walk between the two tops and I think it's totally pathless. :crazy:

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Then I had a brainwave. If I left early enough, maybe there'd just be time to do something I'd never done before (and might never do again)... a Munro *and* a Donald? :thumbup:

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It's nearly September, so getting back into the time of year where you can start the walk under the shadow of the hills.

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Glen Lednock was surprisingly dramatic. I'm still not great at working out the scale of hills around me, so these looked like 2,000ft at least, but when I checked the map at the end they weren't even close.

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The route doesn't really need much description, as the WalkHighlands route covers everything. There are two or three track junctions, but they're all on the map and you just follow the biggest track at each point.

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The Chonzie Motorway.

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There are one or two fords, but I imagine they're usually not too bad. There's been a lot of rain (since, well, mid-June really) and it was still fine.

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There are two massive stones about halfway up that make cracking seats for a snack and drink.

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1hr 8mins in, here's the cairn at c.720m. I actually thought my pace wasn't too great when the track got steeper after 500-600m, but I guess it's not too bad after all. Maybe I can summit within 2hrs, and might have time for this zany scheme to climb a Donald later?

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After the steepest part of the climb (and only a little bit of bog, thankfully), the paths started to fade and intertwine. I picked the shortcut path to cut across the turn in the fence.

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1hr 43mins in, we're here. A dog jumped out of the massive shelter cairn, which made me jump and look a bit daft, before the owner appeared out of the cairn and apologised. She didn't need to, it's my fault for jumping... :oops:

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Right behind my head is Auchnafree Hill, but that's not for today. Behind me, somewhere on the horizon, is Blairdenon Hill. Will I have time later today...?

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Time for some proper camera photos. This is Loch Turret looking towards The Ochils.

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This might be Crieff...? I was trying to find Arthur's Seat but it was quite windy at the summit...

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I think Arthur's Seat is there, but very *very* faint (the di Ferranti viewfinder certainly says it's in that direction). There's the silhouette of something poking up behind the wind farm.

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The Lomond Hills.

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Stob Binnein and Ben More, I think.

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Aha! This'll be Goatfell, a full 74 miles from Chonzie.

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Apparently Dundee Law is visible, but I don't think I could see it. But the Firth of Tay and Firth of Forth were both out there.

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I'd like to explore the other paths a bit, but unfortunately I've set up a stupid schedule for today (as I so often do), so I really have to scarper by the quickest route again. So this is the shortcut path that leads back down, past a load of massive cairns, to the track at c.720m.

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Tinto Hill in the background, behind Dumyat and Blairdenon.

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Back down the motorway. I reached the cairn 2hrs 30mins after leaving - I wouldn't normally go this fast, but time was of the essence if I wanted to shoehorn in a Munro and a Donald with a 3.45pm curfew.

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The final gate wasn't a problem on the way up, but my goodness it was a problem on the way down. I trapped my finger trying to open it, and let out a swear. This was right in front of a farmhouse, so I hope they didn't hear me. :shock:

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At 11.45am, I'm back at the car park (most of which is actually a grass verge, and was filling up by now). 3hrs 25mins for the whole trip was a surprising pace, but I think a large part of things when you climb hills is psychological, and I had no time to waste. I wolved down half my lunch, and scarpered off towards the Highland Boundary Fault for Part II.

8.4km 328m 2hrs 25mins

Blairdenon Hill.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



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Up on Sherriffmuir, the road passes an old wall in a field. It looks totally nondescript, but it's actually a training site that was built during WWII. I think it was in anticipation of a ground invasion from the Nazis, which never materialised in the UK, but I know from all my trips to Jersey and Guernsey (which were invaded) just how many fortifications and stuff were built. Must have been a great time for builders and bricklayers, at least... :shock:

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I parked the new car (nicknamed "Lucky") near the forest, already above 310m (so almost halfway up Blairdenon Hill). The new WalkHighlands map shows three paths / tracks up the hill, which all converge behind Glentye Hill, but the middle one looked like the closest of the three, so I parked in the rough layby and found the track nearby.

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There seemed to be someone lurking in the woods, which is how every horror film starts, so I was keen to stay on this path. It seemed ok so far. Pretty clear and direct.

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Oh.

There was a gigantic new fence and a stile over it. Unfortunately when I crossed over, there was...no path. Instead there was a fledgling forest, with hundreds or thousands of tiny Christmas trees at knee height, and a load of ditches / channels. Maybe the path had been swept away for the construction of the forest. The trees were so comically small that they could have been planted during lockdown.

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Where's me path gone? :roll:

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Yeah, can we get on with this please? I've got a child to collect.

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Finally, more than 25 minutes after leaving (most of which was spent hacking away through ditches surrounded by baby trees) I found the other track from the North-West. Should've just started there, in hindsight.

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This was all a bit stressful really. I still had half an incline that the guy lurking in the woods could do something to Lucky (there are literally no houses up on Sherriffmuir), and my vague idea to be back by 3pm was falling by the wayside. At some point my wife phoned, and I reiterated that I would definitely be back for the swimming trip at 3.45. She wasn't chuffed with that - she'd just assumed I'd be back by 3pm, so now she'd have to walk to school. Oh, and it started raining, in a total contradiction of the forecast. I'd left my jacket at home by mistake, in the rush to get to Chonzie this morning, :crazy:

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The faint track weaved between Glentye Hill and Mickle Corum, before turning left at a deer fence / gate and heading straight up Mickle for a bit, then heading round the side for a gentler climb.

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Views are good at least.

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There was a diagonal shortcut path (much like Chonzie, actually) that cut out some time and ascent, before meeting the main path and heading up to Greenforet Hill. The OS map says there's a "Memorial" here, but I managed to walk past the thing without noticing it. There's quite a lot of history round here, what with the WWII training wall and the 1715 battle site down on Sherriffmuir.

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"0% chance rain" has turned into "sunshine and showers", as if by magic.

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After 1hr 12mins, I'm here! But just got to find the official summit. Let's hope over this fence, where I see some rocks to the right...

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Maybe these two rocks are the pinnacle of Mount Blairdenon? I know there's no proper cairn. Oh wait, I see more rocks behind me. Have to hop the other fence as well now...

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Phew, made it at last. The real summit seems to be over the fence to the left, with one long wooden plank next to it. Chonzie is in the background across Strathallan. This is probably the only time I'll ever climb a Munro and a Donald in the same day, and only the second time I've ever done the climb-hill-then-climb-another-hill-on-way-home thing (that needs a snappier name).

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More zoom photos. This is the Munro from the Donald.

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Lawers and An Stuc.

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Stuc a' Chroin and Vorlich.

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Ben Ledi.

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Ben Lomond and Arrochar Alps.

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Even the tiny summit rock on The Cobbler has come out in the photo, 60km away.

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Stirling Castle is just visible over the side of The Ochils.

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The Kincardine Bridges and Grangemouth. I think that's Broad Law in the background.

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Tinto behind the Central Belt.

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Culter Fell etc.

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Because I had crossed over the North side of the fence to officially summit the hill, I stayed on that side and tried to cut out a little walking near the sharp turn on the fence. It meant having to awkwardly hop the fence a few minutes later, mind.

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Crieff catches some sunshine in front of a gloomer Ben Chonzie.

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This was where I made the daftest mistake of the day. Having struggled up the phantom "third path", I went back the exact same way, rather than just carry straight on at the junction near the deer fence / gate behind Glentye Hill. In retrospect it was a schoolboy error - the two routes are basically parallel, so I found a path that actually exists I should obviously have stayed on it. When I got home and checked Strava I found, to my frustration, that the other two paths are quite popular (the Western one from the little wood is the most popular by far). Nobody goes on the third path that I picked because, well, it doesn't exist. Or if it used to, it doesn't anymore, once it reaches the new Christmas Tree Forest.

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The most tiring thing about today was wading through awkward channels and lobbing multiple fences.

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Fire in front of Ben Lomond? Hope it's not serious.

I finally got back to the car just before 3pm. The guy in the woods hadn't touched it: maybe he was just another hillwalker, actually. Wish I'd followed him up the proper path...

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It was a great day, if a little random. Because of the way I'd spliced up the annual leave, I had to work another three hours or so once I got home, which felt *really* weird after a Munro, but hopefully that's a one-off.

In terms of the battle between Munros and Donalds, on this evidence I'd say Munros won hands-down: Chonzie had a great track most of the way up and a decent path for the rest of it, while Blairdenon turned into a fight between me and several ditches / fences. But if I'd just researched it a bit better (a 20-second check on Strava would have done the trick), then Blairdenon would've been fine as well. In terms of atmosphere, maybe Blairdenon wins - I passed dozens of walkers (and a fair few dogs) on Chonzie, but never saw another soul on Blairdenon. Maybe we'll just call it a score draw then. I bet I compleat the Donalds before I ever(?) compleat the Munros, but that's another story altogether...
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Craiging619
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Posts: 314
Munros:73   Corbetts:36
Fionas:41   Donalds:44+16
Sub 2000:22   
Islands:21
Joined: Jul 21, 2009
Location: Glasgow
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Re: Munros vs. Donalds: Clash Of The Titans

Postby rockhopper » Tue Sep 05, 2023 10:59 pm

Nice day at the start and a good way to extend the day - hope you weren't in your wife's bad books for too long :wink:
And yes, as you found, the "smaller" hills can often be more challenging than their taller relations :problem: - cheers :)
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rockhopper
 
Posts: 7478
Munros:282   Corbetts:222
Fionas:139   Donalds:89+20
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Wainwrights:3   Islands:20
Joined: Jun 1, 2009
Location: Glasgow

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