Sunday 14 July 2019

Ben Chonzie - hot, hot, hot...

Jim - setting off from Coishavachan in Glen Lednock

After a great hill day yesterday on An Caisteal and Beinn a'Chroin, the weather forecast was far too good to go home early on Sunday - so we packed up Cyril at the Immervoulin Campsite (after a morning stroll along the very lovely River Balvag to Loch Lubnaig) and headed for one of the few Munro tiddlers that we hadn't picked off yet - Ben Chonzie.

Ascent of the track above Coishavachan

We'd kind of been avoiding Glen Lednock (bad memories - in 2002 I managed to throw myself off a hillside above Loch Lednock and had to be helicoptered off, to Sterling Royal Infirmary. I spent six months recuperating from my injuries - and we haven't been that way since) - but a sunny Sunday in July seemed to be a good day to break the moratorium.

Looking back (SW) towards Coishavachan and the Trossachs

The little car park at the settlement of Coishavachan was full (partially due to some very bad parking!) so we found a safe place a few hundred yards back along the road.

It was hot (HOT) when we set off - it's not very often that Jim doesn't have a jacket on at the start!

Ascending the track towards Ben Chonzie above the Invergeldie Burn

A good track led to the village, past the houses and onward into the hills...

The Intake where we crossed the Invergeldie Burn (NN746287)

It was hard underfoot and the heat reflected back from the stones, radiating up into a haze - it's not often we can say that in Scotland.

Ascent to Ben Chonzie

The track meandered above the Invergeldie Burn, before crossing the stream and wandering east, up the hillside.

Aromatic heather, thyme and saxifrage blanketed the sides of the track, wafting across us in warm waves. Grouse squawked and flew across our path. The sky was blue and the views went on forever.

Looking back (W) along the track towards Ben Chonzie

But when the expected rough path headed off the track to the left at a cairn, it was a relief - we'd had enough of the almost road. Amongst the heather, herbs and grasses, it was immediately cooler, plus we were getting higher - the gentle breeze was very welcome.

Jim heading off the main track and onto rough path - ascent of Ben Chonzie

We met a chap who had been cycling up Ben Chonzie - he was carrying his mountain bike since he had left the main track. Sweating profusely, he was really struggling - Jim offered to help, but he was determined to get there under his own steam (and he was certainly steaming!). We carried on - looking back to check he was OK. He was very slow, but he seemed to be managing - I don't mind a bike ride, this really didn't look fun - I wouldn't have even fancied cycling down that path!

Looking back (W) along ascent route

Jim - ascent of Ben Chonzie

Ben Chonzie  - across the summit plateau

It was only a gentle pull and we were soon on the summit plateau - then it was just a case of following a line of old fence posts across the grassy sward, taking a 90 degree turn with the fence, before an even gentler stroll up to the summit.

Ben Lawers and friends from Ben Chonzie summit plateau

Gentle ascent across the summit plateau to summit

There were a few people at the summit, picnicking and taking in the views - so after the usual summit pictures, we ambled off to find a quieter spot (a really rather comfy grassy mound) for lunch and a summit naming competition  - there really was a tremendous view...

Ben Chonzie summit (Munro 250, 931m) - views NW towards Lawers group

Ben Lawers and An Stuc stood out to the north west, Schiehallion and friends in the north, plus our recent climbs - yesterday on An Caisteal and last week on Ben Vorlich - acoss in the south west.

Loch Turret from Ben Chonzie

Jim - Descending SW across Ben Chonzie summit plateau (the point where we left the path NN767303)

But all good things must come to an end (and a chilly wind had got up) so it was time to head down.

We retraced our route across the summit plateau, till we got to the 90 degree turn in the fence and we carried straight on - the thought of the dizzyingly hot path was just too much - and headed straight off the hill, heading directly for a path junction we could see on the map and away ahead in the glen.

Jim - descent from Ben Chonzie - views SW towards Invergeldie 

It was a bit tussocky, but we were going downhill - we made good time.

Mountain hare - descent from Ben Chonzie

And we were happy to glimpse a mountain hare gambolling across the hillside.

Jim picked up an enormous feather, lying on the grass which he tucked it into his rucksack - we later identified it (we hope) as a golden eagle feather.

Jim - descent from Ben Chonzie

Jim - descent from Ben Chonzie

There was a brief, easy, scrambly bit, through a tumble of rocks, before we reached the main track again - making a mental note to come back sometime to check out the remains of a clearances settlement a bit further up the glen.

Ben Chonzie - from our descent

Descent from Ben Chonzie - back on the main track (NN755290)

It was an easy walk back down the good track to Coishavachan - a gentle descent with the promise of coffee and cake at the end. It was still very warm, but it was pleasant now that we were walking downhill rather than up.

Descent from Ben Chonzie - above Invergeldie

Invergeldie Burn
 And it really wasn't very far...

Jim - nearing Coishavachan

Ben Chonzie has the reputation of being a boring hill. But on a lovely day - and getting off the beaten track - it was filled with interest and views.

The golden eagle feather, found on our descent from Ben Chonzie

Route:  Car parking area opposite the old school at Coishavachan (NN743273), N along track towards the houses at Coishavachan turning E just before them and going through gate, turn N again and follow track beside the Invergeldie Burn, cross burn at NN742279 and continue NE along burn, cross the burn again at intake at NN746287 and continue along main track as it ascends more steeply E above another burn, at a turn in the track just before the brow of the hill (at a small cairn NN767293) take a rough path NNE across hillside to the broad ridge of the hill, a line of fenceposts mark the path NW and then (from NN767303) NE to summit of Ben Chonzie (Munro 250, 931m), return to the turn in the fenceposts (NN767303), and continue SW on open hillside descending towards Invergeldie Burn and the junction of two tracks at NN755290, now back on the outward track, descend to start point.

Statistics:  Distance: 13km  Ascent: 720m  Time: 4 hours

Map:  OS Explorer 368 Crieff, Comrie & Glen Artney

Ben Chonzie - 931m - Munro 250

Beinn Bhrotain and Monadh Mor

Setting off from Glen Feshie - it was chilly - before the sun had a chance to peep over the hills...  Off we go! Jim - Setting off near Auch...