Sunday, 22 August 2010
This is one of those hills that gets a bad press. There's a school of thought that because it's surrounded by lots of similar rolling hills, and has nothing in particular going for it other than the fact that it is actually a Munro, that it's dull, and has ideas above its station. I also suspect some folk think that because it's pretty central and accessible - it sits just outside Crieff - that it's not really a proper hill, ie all heilan', rugged and requiring a 5:00am start to get up it in a day. Or maybe it's because it starts from a dam, and there's too much evidence of the hand of man in the whole thing? Well, Ben Chonzie was my first ever Munro, all of seven years ago now, so I've always regarded it quite fondly. Certainly, at the time I thought I was hard as nails for managing to get up a 3000' mountain at all, so I've never subscribed to the dull hill point of view.
My position, I feel, has now been entirely vindicated because me & Gordy had a perfectly enjoyable wander over it yesterday. When the sun's shining it's rather a nice place to be, and it's definitely one of the busier hills I've been up recently. So all those folk can't be wrong, eh? ;0)
There's various ways to climb Ben Chonzie, but we started from the dam at the end of Loch Turret reservoir. I quite like the machine house.
If you have to have a big hydro scheme building you might as well try to make it relatively pleasing to the eye. And pit some grass on the dam.
We wandered along the east side, following a good path all the way. There are sheep all over the place, right to the end of the loch, but Molly was behaving really well, so she wasn't on the lead too much. Here's the view across the loch to Creag nan Uan:
At the end of the reservoir there's an unusual collection of heathery grassy hillocky bump things.
That may not be the technical term for them, but they're mildly distracting, whatever they're called. They reminded me a wee bit of the Fairy Glen in Skye. I shall carry out diligent research on the issue, and update this post in due course. Probably.
There's also another Lochan Uaine at the far end of the glen. It's undeniably green, but not in the same way as the Lochan Uaine near Glenmore Lodge.
This one has adopted the unusual course of being a grass-covered lochan. Long, rippling grass too. None of your short scrubby stuff. Strange.
From slightly further on, I think the views back down the reservoir towards the dam are perfectly reasonable. I'm no' sure your first thought would be "whit a man made monstrosity!!!".
Having said that, the terrain at this bit is seriously unpleasant. Boggy, smelly, slippy, spongy - you name a least favourite underfoot condition and the end of Glen Turret provides it. It doesn't last long though, and a short clamber gets you up onto the shoulder of Ben Chonzie from where you follow a line of fence posts south west all the way to the summit. There were a good few mountain hares about here - as well as sheepy stragglers - so it's not ideal badly behaved dug territory. Again though, Molly wasn't bothered about the latter (although I had to keep up a fairly constant chant of "heel" to keep her nearby), but she was off after the first hare without fear of let or hindrance. She was also giving out a kind of odd frantic puppyish yelping noise when she was chasing it. I've never heard her do that before, and I'm wondering if it was something to do with the fact that it's pretty rocky and bouldery up there and she couldn't run freely, and was, well, panicking I suppose. Still, at least we didn't have Jorja with us. Given the number of hares up there we'd never have seen the Wee Black Dug again.
Livestock issues notwithstanding, our entire party made it to the summit, and the well constructed summit shelter/cairn did its job, the forecasted breezy conditions having duly arrived. Molly, inevitably, struck a pose for her photie...
...but I was able to catch an unguarded shot soon after.
Rather than retrace our steps we continued anti-clockwise and headed over to Carn Chois.
The weather was improving by now, and there was even a bit of blue sky when we looked back towards Ben Chonzie.
Carn Chois is a nice wee hill, with good views all around...
... and an interesting dry stone dyke running right up it. Molly was interested, at any rate.
From there, it was case of following the continuing line of fence posts, before eventually dropping down left to the track on the west side of the loch.
Just before we did that though, there was another unusual sight - can everyone else see the definite colour change between the right and left sides of the fence? Or were me and Gordy both going mad?
Does anyone have the faintest idea of what causes that? Answers on, um, an epostcard.
Anyhoo, now back down at the lochside, Molly was still enjoying her day.
This was more her idea of fun than last week's 12 hour shift would have been. And the sun was still doing its best.
It was a good walk. And bumpy ground, grassy lochans and colour-delineated terrain. How could Ben Chonzie be described as dull? Weird maybe, but hardly dull.