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Return to Chonzie almost 12 years on from the Big Bang

Return to Chonzie almost 12 years on from the Big Bang


Postby Graeme D » Wed Oct 16, 2019 4:59 pm

Munros included on this walk: Ben Chonzie

Date walked: 10/10/2019

Time taken: 4.6 hours

Distance: 12.8 km

Ascent: 750m

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It is said that Chonzie is a dull hill. Even the name lacks any hint at excitement - the mossy hill. Even Paul and Helen allude to the dullness of Chonzie in their Munro book. Good for beginners and learning and honing winter skills. And we must not forget the mountain hare population! It is true that if you are one of those types who believes in the existence of dull hills, then Chonzie will undoubtedly feature on your list. No one could argue that it possesses any of the wow factor attributes of a Bidean nam Bian, a Buachaille Etive Mor or a Liathach, to name but a few. But every hill has its merits and its place. For me, Ben Chonzie has a special place. Back in March of 2008, having done two Munros almost by accident a whole 5 years previously, I found myself on Chonzie (courtesy of an ascent from the Glen Turret side) with a bunch of colleagues from school, now almost entirely moved on, and the wife of our then Outdoor Education guy, who was our trainer for the day. It was part of our training for what was then known as the Basic Expedition Leader qualification which had become a legal requirement for Duke of Edinburgh leaders. It was an utterly foul day and for the most part, it was only gallows humour and the promise of strong drink at the end that got us through. Many of my colleagues that day only really dabbled with our DofE programme for a year or two before dropping away entirely but for me, it was the start of something truly special and life defining. It sparked a dormant flame that still burns brightly almost 12 years on from that day, whether it is going to the hills in the role of DofE leader or simply of my own accord to enjoy what they have to offer. It was like a Big Bang - everything that I know today in terms of hillwalking, encompassing 12 years worth of reports on here, began on that day and grew exponentially. Having taken Ailsa to Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh just a few days ago to learn all about the history of the Earth, I couldn't resist that line! :lol:

Over 200 Munros, 100 Corbetts and a number of other hills later (including a number of repeats) and I still had not been back on the summit of Ben Chonzie. Goodness knows how many times I had driven through Crieff and Comrie on the way further north and west and I had crossed her lower flanks on a Silver route between Comrie and Aberfeldy a couple of times but that was the extent of it. Now with my daughter Ailsa aged 8 and recently having done her first Munro, it was time to return but this time as a family unit. My wife was on holiday the first week of the October fortnight and was keen do do a bit of walking one day. She mentioned Vrackie but having lost count of the times we have been up there, I steered her towards Chonzie with the promise of a straightforward and relatively short ascent from the Glen Lednock side. This is arguably the least exciting way to do an allegedly dull hill, but I knew Ailsa might struggle with the Glen Turret ascent.

Day packs duly packed, we stopped at Mountain Warehouse in Perth to get Ailsa some boots and then at the Co-op in Crieff for some sandwiches before heading up the winding road into Glen Lednock. The previous few days had followed a fairly predictable pattern of October weather - dry with sunny spells and showers earlier in the day turning more unsettled with heavier and more prolonged spells of rain later in the day and today seemed to be starting in a similar vein.

There were quite a few cars in the parking area at Coishavachan, certainly for a Thursday in October with questionable looking weather. Negotiations were quickly concluded with Ailsa regarding how many and which snacks she could persuade Dad to stick in his day pack for her, and then we were off. Was it really four months already since I tramped up this track on a scorching June day at the beginning of a Comrie to Aberfeldy Silver expedition!!!???

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Ailsa in her new boots at the start of the walk

Even with a light day pack instead of a three day expedition pack, progress was a good deal slower than on that occasion, with Ailsa regularly stopping to pass comment on or faff around about something. A good three or four lots of walkers passed us on their descent (presumably the owners of the cars back at Coishavachan) before we reached the little dam, where we stopped for lunch.

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Still all smiles at this stage

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Chonzie ahead with hat on

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Back down to Glen Lednock

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Lunch by the little dam

From that point onward we encountered no more folks on descent but were overtaken by a bloke with two dogs a short distance before the cairn marking the point where you leave the track and take to the initially boggy path up onto the broad summit plateau and the line of old rusty fence posts.

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Hurry up Mum, that man and his dogs are about to overtake us!

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About as good as the views are going to get

It had also begun to rain by this point, and was steadily setting in for the rest of the day, pretty much in keeping with recent days. Ailsa began to throw the toys out of the pram as the rain got heavier, the gradient of the track got steeper and ultimately the nice, relatively dry track became a boggy, grassy path.

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Hissy fit time

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Off the track and onto the path

Just as on Vorlich back in August, I would happily have turned back just as soon as she said that is what she wanted to do. Like that day also, she was tempted, and part of her wanted to, but a bigger, more forceful part of her didn't want to be defeated and miss out. So onward we went, with Debbie strangely focused on reaching the summit. This was not at all her kettle of fish so to speak. She generally doesn't do "dull" hills, especially in the pi**ing rain, but she wanted to carry on, even if it meant going on herself while I put up the two man shelter and waited with Ailsa.

But in the end we all made it, even if there were a few "Are we nearly there yet?" comments along the line of fence posts. The chap with the dogs passed us a short distance from the summit, having spent a bit of time there having his dinner. I don't know what his dinner was but he certainly had no views to enjoy it with!

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Summit for the family album?

So I had made it back to Chonzie almost 12 years on from that life changing day. Debbie had surprised me with a very untypical response to a rounded hill with no views and dodgy weather and Ailsa had notched up her second Munro. That's two more than either Mum or Dad had done by her age or even anywhere near it!


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Graeme D
 
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Re: Return to Chonzie almost 12 years on from the Big Bang

Postby gammy leg walker » Wed Oct 16, 2019 7:36 pm

I'm hoping Ailsa is catching the bug for the hills from her old man.

Full or not I've been on Chonzie summit 5 times all from the Glen Lednock side,I quite enjoy Chonzie as a wee wander to clear the head.
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Re: Return to Chonzie almost 12 years on from the Big Bang

Postby Gordie12 » Wed Oct 16, 2019 8:12 pm

Good effort by everyone in those conditions Graeme.

I've done BC half a dozen times now (3 from the Turret, 2 from Glen Lednock and 1 from the Sma Glen) and always enjoy the walk.

Now that you have the family with you we don't have to look at half a dozen selfies per report :lol:
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Re: Return to Chonzie almost 12 years on from the Big Bang

Postby Grisu » Wed Oct 16, 2019 8:44 pm

What a shame that Ailsa could not enjoy the views. They are supposed to be quite nice but when I was on Ben Chonzie it was even mistier than on your pic :? Well done Ailsa and good luck for the next Munro :clap:
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Re: Return to Chonzie almost 12 years on from the Big Bang

Postby rockhopper » Wed Oct 16, 2019 9:13 pm

Good hill for the youngsters, Graeme. Think I took my younger son (and his friend) up this one in his earlier years of hillwalking - had high hopes at that point but he went off the idea not long after :roll: Thanks :)
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Re: Return to Chonzie almost 12 years on from the Big Bang

Postby Graeme D » Wed Oct 16, 2019 10:47 pm

Gordie12 wrote:Good effort by everyone in those conditions Graeme.

I've done BC half a dozen times now (3 from the Turret, 2 from Glen Lednock and 1 from the Sma Glen) and always enjoy the walk.

Now that you have the family with you we don't have to look at half a dozen selfies per report :lol:


Ha ha! Just back from 3 days up north west on my Jack Jones. Wait until you see those reports! Plenty of selfies! :lol:
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Graeme D
 
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Re: Return to Chonzie almost 12 years on from the Big Bang

Postby Sunset tripper » Sat Oct 19, 2019 7:33 am

Many hills get labelled boring but I nearly always find something memorable on a day out on the hills. When I did the same route as you on Ben Chonzie white mountain hares were abundant and at very close quarters but it was the king of sheep not far after the start that I will always remember. :D
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Looked like a good day out. All the best. :D
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Re: Return to Chonzie almost 12 years on from the Big Bang

Postby allymacp » Sat Oct 19, 2019 10:38 am

Great wee report mate, good on everyone for persevering and hopefully the bug catches on! I did a similar one on this hill talking as well about how the unremarkable ones often provide some stand out moments...when I did Chonzie with my dad we came across a herd of cows in the mist near the top. One of the stranger sights!!
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Re: Return to Chonzie almost 12 years on from the Big Bang

Postby dogplodder » Sat Oct 19, 2019 12:12 pm

Well done Ailsa!

I used to tell my kids in similar conditions it was character forming, at which my 8 year old daughter would retort that her character was formed enough. She never did catch the hill bug. :lol:
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