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Ben Chonzie in the snow from Glen Turret
by StevieC » Sun Apr 14, 2013 9:33 pm
Route description: Ben Chonzie via Glen Lednock
Munros included on this walk: Ben Chonzie
Date walked: 07/04/2013
Time taken: 6 hours
Distance: 18 kmRegister or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
This is my first report on this site. It's taken me a while to get my head around how it all works, but I've enjoyed, been inspired by and found many useful tips from many walk reports on this site, so I thought I'd throw mine out there for anyone who's interested. It's not the usual route up Ben Chonzie (i.e. from Glen Lednock), so here goes...
Having decided on the "long, challenging" route rather than the "short, easy" route (we never learn...) we headed for Crieff and followed the signs for the distillery. The minor road to Loch Turret dam is off to the left, just after a row of whisky warehouses - it's easily missed and indeed we missed it! Quick u-turn and we were soon on the right road. After that it's about a 15 minute drive to the dam...unless you arrive during Big Hairy Coo rush hour that is. A herd of about 20 coos and their calves held us up a bit just short of the dam...
Eventually we arrived at the car park - nice big one with loads of spaces - and off we set up the track on the east side of Loch Turret, which I'm sure would have been very picturesque except for the mist and low cloud that meant we could barely see it, and certainly couldn't see the mountains that were our goal! It took us just over an hour to reach Lochan Uaine - very gradually gaining height as we went - and we decided to stop for a bite to eat. The lochan was mostly frozen, and the surroundings were gradually getting icier and snowier. Refreshed, we set off in what we hoped was the direction of a fence line marked on the map that led up to Bealach na Gaoith. We found a trail of footprints in the snow, heading down the hill, so we followed them in the assumption that they must have come from somewhere! I should point out that visibility was terrible - about 50 yards at most. Eventually we picked up a path that eventually led to the elusive fence. From there it was just a matter of following the fence line (just a series of posts actually) until we reached the summit. Time from car park to summit was just over 3 hours.
Didn't hang around at the top too long, just long enough for a few pics. The wind was pretty stiff, with sleety snow flurries never too far away. In fact, with the wind battering down from the north east, it probably wasn't the best idea to return along the plateau on the west side of Loch Turret, rather than just retrace our steps, but that was the route we'd picked before setting out, so that was the route we took! It wasn't long before the left side of my head and face were covered in ice, but I simply couldn't be bothered getting my hat out of the rucksack, or even putting my hood up. To be honest, it didn't actually feel all that cold, but the pictures tell a different story!
Leaving the shelter at the summit, we trod off south west, following the fence line again, past the turn off for those taking the "easy" route from Glen Lednock, and quickly arrived at the summit cairn of Meall na Seide. Didn't hang around here - the relentless wind and stinging sleet were really starting to wear us down by now, so on we charged, still following the fence line...until the bulk of Carn Chois greeted us. Now, on a normal spring day I'm sure this would be a mere blip, but when we arrived at the bottom of it and looked up at it looming out of the mist, it seemed like the north face of the Eiger! Still, no choice but to haul ourselves up it (it wasn't that bad really) and then down the other side.
As we lost height, it gradually became possible to see more than a few yards in front of you, and when we spotted a fence leading down to the loch side, we gladly jumped over it and frolicked down the side of the hill towards the track that leads back to the dam. Spirits lifting in direct proportion to the wind easing, we were soon back at the dam, nipped across it, and back to the car. No coo jam on the way out, so back home in no time.
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