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Ben Chonzie - a great start to 2017

Ben Chonzie - a great start to 2017


Postby matt_outandabout » Thu Jan 05, 2017 1:04 pm

Munros included on this walk: Ben Chonzie

Date walked: 02/01/2017

Time taken: 3.5 hours

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Ben Chonzie is one of our nearest Munro’s, and I had been ‘saving’ it for a family day out in less than perfect weather. It is a hill I have followed DofE groups around and over and a couple of times led primary school groups up, so knew it to be a straightforward, dare I say unexciting, hill.

However, every day out is worthwhile, and this one proved very pleasant indeed. Sadly this was the first mountain day that one of our boys has missed out on – with exams due a couple of days later, he was home revising…
The forecast was 44mph winds and -18*c on the summit, and so we decided with the boys on a policy of turning round if it was really bad.

Initially though, it was a sunny and cool start from Invergeldie car park. A late start for us, the car park was already almost full, and some keen runners were already returning, having summited before 10am.
ImageBen Chonzie hillwalk by Matt Robinson, on Flickr
ImageBen Chonzie hillwalk by Matt Robinson, on Flickr

The initial views are stunning, and the track although ‘mundane’ does offer quick and simple ascent. The (usual) stream crossing above Invergeldie was bone dry, and the path covered in ice sections, increasingly so with height gained.
ImageBen Chonzie hillwalk by Matt Robinson, on Flickr

Higher up the wind was blowing, and the distant Tarmachan and Lawers ranges disappeared from view in a white snow cloud incoming. More layers were donned – it had been fleeces only until this point – and hats, gloves and buffs put in pockets ready. We left the track high in the gully, and a short boggy section leads quickly to the wonderful summit ridge.
ImageBen Chonzie hillwalk by Matt Robinson, on Flickr

As the clouds gathered and blew in, we were treated to views constantly appearing and disappearing with them. The summit ridge now bore the full force of the wind that we had been sheltered from in the gully – and the forecast was correct. It was easy to walk in as it was steady, but unpleasantly cold on exposed skin.
ImageBen Chonzie hillwalk by Matt Robinson, on Flickr

A visit to the (relative) warmth of the summit shelter, where we met a couple of really rather chuffed to be there ladies, one of whom was on her first Munro. As can be seen, one of the boys knows how to wrap up well, and one less so (more of this later). A quick cuppa out the wind and we headed back out into the maelstrom to get off the ridge quickly. The fence line provides a wonderful ‘handrail’ for navigation. Although many hare tracks were to be seen, the number of dogs accompanying the other walkers meant the mountain hares stayed hidden.
ImageBen Chonzie hillwalk by Matt Robinson, on Flickr
ImageBen Chonzie hillwalk by Matt Robinson, on Flickr

At the end of the ridge it felt like every step took us into warmer air. In fact we had been on the top as a warm front blew through – and so we returned to an air temperature 5* warmer than the ascent. It was here we noticed that the less wrapped up boy was sporting some minor frost nip – an area of skin he sunburnt as a baby on a river Tweed canoe trip…
ImageBen Chonzie hillwalk by Matt Robinson, on Flickr
ImageBen Chonzie hillwalk by Matt Robinson, on Flickr

The sun now cast wonderful light and rainbows across the valley – layers were taken off and we enjoyed the simple amble back to the car park. We did wonder at a few folk heading upwards at 3:30pm on a Highland winters afternoon however…
ImageBen Chonzie hillwalk by Matt Robinson, on Flickr
ImageBen Chonzie hillwalk by Matt Robinson, on Flickr

A lovely day out, up a hill with stunning views and position. Does this deserve the reputation for being the ‘dullest Munro in the land’? Possibly – but then the standards are so high, this means little. A cracking day out on a great hill. A return trip in mid-summer by mountain bike is on the cards.
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matt_outandabout
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 123
Munros:53   Corbetts:18
Grahams:15   Donalds:17
Sub 2000:17   Hewitts:147
Wainwrights:141   
Joined: Nov 3, 2013

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