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Ben Chonzie, and off the edge

Ben Chonzie, and off the edge

Postby Myth » Mon Apr 06, 2009 11:39 pm

Route description: Ben Chonzie via Glen Lednock

Munros included on this walk: Ben Chonzie

Date walked: 06/04/2009

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Two adults, two teens, one old sad dog. 3 April 09

For various reasons we've not been out as much as usual for the last four months - almost not at all... but my stomache muscles are knitting, wifies knee was behaving, and neither of the kids got a veto, so on a 3 to 2 vote we headed for the hills... and I picked an easy one to break us back in gently.

As usual Paul's description is spot on - but only in retrospect. Also as usual I read it only when writing this up :D

We drove the 'van up from Comrie, and an adventure that was - it's a big vehicle, and a tight, narrow road! Plenty of space at the car park with only one other car, and we took an absolute AGE to get sorted out. Why, oh why, do I always wind up doing up everyone's gaiters?

This is a walk that starts out like out means to go on - climbing pretty much from the off. We got the zig zag round the buildings without hassle (see later) and headed up through the field of sheep. this section rises on a good landrover track past a small dam and mini-lochan and up onto a more level section (still rising) as the hill becomes very obvious in front of you - well it should, but we were looking at a track disappearing into a low cloud. A low cloud scudding along at a good lick in the extra fresh breeze! Softshells zipped up, gloves, hats all round. As we got to the steep section at the base of the hill, we met a couple coming off who remarked that they'd only seen two mountain hares - colour fading.
The less said about the steep track the better - unrelenting, hard on the feet and back, fairly featureless and boring. I came in for a *lot* of stick about my claims that it was a "soft" hill. A navigators life is never easy - but I plotted my revenge.
There is a cairn by the track just before it hikes off to the right, and we came off and pushed up what i thought was a path, but boggy and in deep heather - but we soon realised the path was parallel to us and crossed, after which things were easier. Visibility was atrocious, but we still saw lots of hares. I was however poor company counting off my steps under my breath and watching the compass obsessively. The fence line is not on my map, but a very brief swirl in the cloud showed me where it went, and we made good time skirting the snow fields to collapse into the shelter on the top - then quickly pulled on remaining layers (hard shells, buffs, extra hats etc.) as it was baltic once we stopped!

Lunch was had - tuna rolls, pork pies, crisps, dog biscuits, coffee and hot chocolate. Mmmm.

Fortified, I was again admonished for "that horrible track up the hill", so decided to follow a bearing of about 250 degree off the mountain to follow a stream down to the other path. Within three hundred meters of the top, there were hare EVERYWHERE. Dog didn't know where to look, and the sheer quantity probably confused him... he behaved very well tho' and didn't chase off once - even in the face of extreme provocation (a family starting from under his paws...). Daughter pointed out a herd of red hinds - probably about 60 strong, and we watched them as they headed from the vcinity of the path over the stream and up over the hill opposite As we dropped down the hillside, I wanted to aim off southwards and quarter downslope, but wifies knees said "straight down" so down it was, falling almost due west. Daughter got some map and compass training... 1:50,000 has 5m resolution - the stream was in a steep gully, so we finally dropped down beside it, and out to a nice soft path, before cutting the corner to miss out still more of the landrover track.
we made good time back to the van, and then relaxed for a while, chortling somewhat at two walkers who might have been playing up to the kids, but did seem under prepared, and somewhat less than map-aware as they set off. They tried to go straight through the gardens between the cottages, and got a noisy dog and irritated householder to contend with.

The exercise was fun, and at least we made the top. On the Saturday, I'd hoped to get something done from Lawyers car park, but less than way up Meall an Tarmachan into the teeth of a rainy near gale (no fun with a very lightweight daughter) I realised that although I was warm, dry and toasty, wifie was not warm, kids were already soaked through with water squishing out of boots, and the dog was soaked and shivering. Discretion turned us back... Ah well, the hill is not going anywhere!
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Re: Ben Chonzie, and off the edge

Postby Paul Webster » Tue Apr 07, 2009 9:58 am

When I climbed Ben Chonzie, about 14 years ago, I headed northwest from the summit across the moors and descended the Invergeldie Burn track. Like you say, it was absolutely infested with hares - they still had their white winter coats though the snow had gone. There were hundreds - I've never seen anything like so many since; I'm glad to hear they are still there!!

I should say the description of the route on Walkhighlands was written by Helen (with no help from the weather for the photos!)
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