Four Whiskies and a Munro
by Paul_Antonia » Tue Feb 21, 2012 2:31 pm
Route description: Ben Chonzie via Glen Lednock
Munros included on this walk: Ben Chonzie
Date walked: 21/02/2012
Time taken: 7 hours
Distance: 12.5 km
Ascent: 712m4 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
I'd been planning Ben Chonzie as a suitable winter project from the moment we decided to climb the Munros. From walk reports and route descriptions it appeared to me that it's just a bigger version of the hills around our home in the Borders, no steep rocky scrambles and a good path most of the way up the ascent. All we needed was the opportunity.
With me working in hospitality and Antonia at school, time off together can be difficult to come by, especially at Christmas and New Year so with February half term looming we started to talk about getting out into the hills again. I was sure I'd probably get only one day off that week and Antonia was back at school on Thursday so my request went in for Mon, Tues or Wed, and my fingers were crossed. I was right, and my day off was to be Wednesday. What chance we'd be lucky with the weather too? Again my fingers were crossed. I watched the weather forecasts like a stalker for the few days beforehand and MWIS said the weather should be good except that it would be windy on the summits.
Rucksacks were packed the day before, sandwiches made and I even packed my coleman stove so we could brew up at the summit shelter.
On Tuesday night I finished work at 11pm and we were to be on the road just after 6am. I hardly slept that night. Was it excitement, trepidation or just that I couldn't unwind after my work shift? Either way it was not the best preparation for the day ahead.
Paul: After an uneventful drive up we arrived at the carpark just before 9am. That Glen Lednock road wasn't nearly as poor as I'd expected but there are definitely some potholes that need to be shown due care and respect. However I have to say that the B827 Braco to Comrie road is worse in places and travellers might be better to stick to the A roads via Crieff.
On arrival we were treated to the beautiful sight of the rising sun illuminating the craggs opposite.
We were also greeted by a Red Kite circling overhead looking for its breakfast and the sheep running down the field in a perfect line, following the farmer on his quad. They were having more luck with breakfast than the kite was. It was all starting to feel ike we'd stepped into Doogz TR. Antonia thought the sheep chasing the farmer's quad round the field was the funniest sight this decade and it had her rolling about.
Antonia:We started off from home at about 6.25 and arrived at the bottom of Ben Chonzie about 9.00 and started walking about 9.15 but before we set off we saw a Red Kite. Paul got the binoculars out but I was too busy watching the sheep because they were chasing the farmer because it was feeding time. I started to laugh because it was so funny. The sun was out but it was still quite cold and a bit windy.
Paul: Just before we started out another car pulled in and a fellow Munroist got out. After a brief chat it seemed that he was well versed in the ways of the hills so we expected him to overhaul us fairly quickly. I never did ask his name but I did ask if he uses this site which he doesn't. Oh well.
Coishavachan farm was glowing in the morning sunshine as we started our adventure.
I was pleasantly surprised about how rapid our progress was along the track. It's a steady rate of climb and was great conditions underfoot. The views behind were spectacular as we climbed higher.
Antonia: We quickly came to a dam where we found a stone that looks like a Liquorice Allsort, so we took some photos of it so I could show my mum. While we were taking photos the other walker caught us up and joined us on the trail.
Paul: Arrival at the dam was a complete surprise to me, it had taken a fraction of the time I'd expected. Invergeldie burn wasn't exactly in spate conditions either.
Our fellow walker joined us on the next stretch of the climb.
The views were opening up with every footstep and soon enough we got our first view of Ben Vorlich and the Loch Earn ranges peeping out and taunting us. " Come and have a go if you think you're hard enough". You'll keep, Vorlich.
We were eventually caught up by another two walkers and finally by a man walking his dog, a local who lives somewhere below Loch Turret. I was to learn a valuable lesson about not listening to the locals before the day was out.
As the views opened up we could see mountains and ranges that we couldn't easily identify although we were trying. One in particular was a conical shaped peak in the distance, westwards of Vorlich. Our newfound colleague announced that he has an app on his android that will identify peaks but he needed to calibrate the compass first. This involved him spinning round and round on the spot whilst holding his phone skywards, then a quick image of the peak and it pronounced it to be "Schiehallion". " Not in that Direction " I said,pointing, "Sciehallion is over in that direction". After resorting to the oldfashioned method of map and compass work he agreed. Our best guess for its identity is Ben More. It was definitely a big 'un. Anyone want to proffer their opinion?
Antonia:When we got further up Paul wanted us to go the way the route said but all the other walkers were going a different way. Going up Paul's route was harder and steeper so it took us longer than he wanted it to.
Paul: At the bend in the track by the little cairn I said " This way Antonia", but she wasn't keen. The other walkers and the dog were all carrying on along the track. The local guy explained that although the prescribed route does leave the track here its actually less steep and easier walking to follow the track to its end and then pick up the line of fence posts from there. But no. I had to insist that we follow the published route didn't I? I'm funny like that. It would've been cheating to go the other way. We bade them all farewell and offered a race to the top, Doh!!
The going was much harder up our route and we could see the others making great progress until they disappeared over the horizon although I'll bet they didn't see as many hares as we did.
By now the views were stunning.
Antonia: It took us three hours to get to the top and as soon as we arrived we sat down in the shelter, out of the wind, for our sandwiches and Paul got his stove out to boil water for a pot noodle.
Paul: After picking up the fence line we could see the other walkers coming back from the summit. I decided that this time I was going to put aside my pride and we headed out over the snow field to cut the corner to the summit ridge. Antonia wasn't very steady on her feet and announced that she didn't like the snow. Eventually we hit the top in 3 hours 15min. A good effort I thought. All in all we spent nearly an hour at the top in the shelter. I took a few photos but not as many as I might have done if the wind was less strong.
Antonia: When we stood up from the shelter we nearly got blown over because it was so windy. Paul said we needed to get off the top and then the wind would be less, which it was. I had so much fun coming down, jumping in the snow to leave my footprints.
Paul: The descent was straight forward but I have to admit to being quite scared for Antonia in that wind at the top. It was nearly blowing me off my feet at times and she weighs half what I do. I agreed that we would follow the easier route down to pick up the top of the path and having done so I felt a bit foolish for insisting that we went the other way on the ascent. Large slice of humble pie for tea then.
We only had one teary moment from Antonia just down from the summit because her hands were too cold. I realised that what she'd done was to put on two pairs of gloves so that they were really tight on her fingers and she was gripping her poles really tightly too. After convincing her to just use one pair and to relax she soon warmed up again.
How Fickle can kids be? On the way up Antonia was treading very carefully on the snowy patches, but on the way down she was running all over the place to jump in virgin snow and leave her prints. She was even cajoling me to join in.
" you're missing all the fun." she said, to which my reply was " No I'm not, I'm watching all the fun". She did eventually talk me into drawing smiley faces in one drift but we couldn't get a decent vantage point to photograph them.
Antonia: I had a really good time on Ben Chonzie because it was good weather and I liked jumping in the snow drifts. It was much easier than the other Munros we've done because it's not so steep and rocky.
Paul: All in all a succesful day on a mountain that doesn't deserve it's reputation. We had a great time and I learned some valuable lessons. We were up and down it by 4pm so we were home in time for me to go to our local whisky shop tasting session. Glenlivet 12yrs, 15yrs and 18yrs plus The Tweeddale Blend which is put together by a magician in Coldstream, a very satisfactory dram if you can get some.
Climbed a munro and then home in time for a whisky tasting, now that's how to have a day off from work.
Hope you do another Munro soon, any ideas which one??
by Paul_Antonia » Tue Feb 21, 2012 4:03 pm
by Paul_Antonia » Tue Feb 21, 2012 5:52 pm
by SusieThePensioner » Tue Feb 21, 2012 6:33 pm
by gammy leg walker » Tue Feb 21, 2012 10:04 pm
by Paul_Antonia » Tue Feb 21, 2012 10:14 pm
morag1 wrote:Hope you do another Munro soon, any ideas which one??
Thanks for the comments folks.
Morag, Not sure which will be next. We have plenty of unfinished business in and around Arrochar. Probably won't get much chance of a day off together until Easter Hols unless I get a very rare day off at a weekend. A lot will depend on the weather. If there's still plenty of snow around then I'll be looking for something more like Ben Chonzie than the Arrochar Alps. Maybe someone would be kind enough to suggest one?
by soulminer » Tue Feb 21, 2012 10:20 pm
- Posts: 804
- Joined: Mar 18, 2010
- Location: Johnstone
Lovely colours in the photos
by lomondwalkers » Thu Feb 23, 2012 9:21 pm
by Alan S » Thu Feb 23, 2012 10:06 pm
soulminer wrote:Your report quite clearly shows how boring this hill isn't
Got to agree with that I really enjoyed ben chonzie and your pics and report do it justice
by Alastair S » Thu Feb 23, 2012 11:01 pm
by pollyh33 » Fri Feb 24, 2012 12:46 am
Your photographs are amazing, thank you for posting them. I was up there last June and saw absolutely nothing from pretty much start to finish Not even the fenceline!!!
Looking forward to more of your ace reporting
PS I hate having cold fingers, so I changed from gloves to mitts- what a difference!!! Don't forget to buy the ones with wrist straps, less chance of losing them when you take them off and they blow away !!
by Paul_Antonia » Sun Feb 26, 2012 5:47 pm
Never thought of mitts Polly33, what a great idea. We'll be steadily upgrading our kit over time so I'll keep a look out for some good goretex ( or similar ) ones for us.