Saturday, 7 September 2013

Ben Chonzie

Walk Statistics
Walk Date - 07 September 2013
Walkers - Steve Smith, John Parkin
Accommodation - West Lodge Caravan Park, Comrie
Start Point - Coishavachan car park (GR NN 74301 27278)
Start Time - 10:49
Finish Point - Coishavachan car park (GR NN 74301 27278)
Finish Time - 15:12
Duration - 4hrs 23mins
Average pace - 1.90mph
Distance Walked - 8.34miles
Height Ascended - 760.28metres

Other walks on this trip
14th The Glen Lyon Horseshoe
13th Tarmachen Ridge
12th Meall Ghaordaidh
  9th Beinn Chabhair
  7th Ben Chonzie
  6th Ben Vorlich & Stuc a' Chroin

Peaks visited
Munro (282)
Ben Chonzie (3)
Murdo (443)
Ben Chonzie (3)
Corbett (221)
Graham (224)
Marilyn (1216)
Ben Chonzie (6)
Hump (2168)
Ben Chonzie (6)

GPS tracklog of actual walk
Walk Summary
Ben Chonzie was originally planned by John P. as the first peak of the trip and therefore my very first Munro. However when I started reading that it was a boring hill and comments that it would put me off hill walking for life I did start (for about 1 nano-second) to have mixed feelings about it being the first. Quite frankly I can not imagine any hill, let alone a Munro, could put me off hill walking, unless of course a John Lewis or Debenhams had opened near the trig point.
Anyway when the forecast for Saturday was rain John decided to do Ben Vorlich & Stuc a' Chroin yesterday on the basis we would still be able to do Ben Chonzie if visibility was poor.
As forecast it was raining when we left the campsite, driving through rain along Glen Lednock. But by the time we had arrived at the start point and kitted up, we set off in bright warm sunshine from the car park towards Coishavachan Farm. All I could think about was the lush green fields, white sheep and the contrasting grays and browns towards the high fells - how is this boring.
Yes the navigation following the track for the next 1¾ hours and 3 miles is straight forward, but the relentless ascent provides an aerobic work out second to none, not to mention the fresh air, wildlife and spectacular views.
For me there was also a twist. The big lump we had walked towards and round was not Ben Chonzie. The summit was about 400m to the NW. Clearly if I had studied the map before setting off this would not have been a surprise, but for once I was just happy to follow John and let him worry about the navigation.
Verdict - Ben Chonzie is not a boring Munro at all. I do not believe there is such an animal. What has occurred to me though is that it is an excellent candidate for a last Munro. Whilst not taking any walk for granted (even on this walk the wind was cold and strong enough on the summit to not hang around and to don hat and gloves) the straight forward navigation and close proximity to a suitable start point makes it ideal as a last top to be joined by friends not quite so keen to disappear in to the Scottish Highlands for the whole day or even longer. 
But for me that is a question I will not have to consider for about 280 summits and several years.

Walk Description
Coishavachan from walk start point
 1.) Leave car park following track north towards Coishavachan Farm.
Last look at van and walk start point from Coishavachan.
 2.) At the end of the track turn right in front of the farm then left after going through gate as you pass the last building. If you look back you should see your vehicle in the car park. 
First Invergeldie Burn crossing. Follow road through gate and round to the right
 3.) Continue heading north with Coishavachan Farm on your left and cross Invergeldie Burn after trees in grounds of Invergeldie Lodge.
The days only summit - Ben Chonzie after first crossing Invergeldie Burn
 4.) Walk away from Burn and follow track round to your right where you will then see the days peak of Ben Chonzie over the burn in the distance ahead and to your right.
Ford over Invegeldie Burn near small dam
 5.) Continue on track and recross Invergeldie Burn at ford near the small dam.
Small cairn marks top of track
from where you drift left along path to Ben Chonzie summit
 6.) Stay on track for a further 1½ miles ascending nearly 500m to the end of track marked by small cairn (I think it is this bit which gives Ben Chonzie its unfair reputation as a bit of trudge).
Keep to top of rocks then follow fence at the top
 7.) From the cairn as the track is replaced by a path that replaces track that drifts to the left, follow it to the top of a large rocky outcrop.
Follow fence to the west for the easier ground and as a navigation aid, 
 8.) At the top of the rocks you will find a line of old fencing. I was expecting the summit to be straight ahead, however if I had studied the map more carefully I would have been prepared for it being across to the right.
Follow fence to the right at 910m contour
Ben Chonzie summit will be straight ahead to the north
 9.) In clear conditions you can cut off the corner near the 910m contour, however at times of poor visibility or severe weather conditions it is as well to handrail the fence all the way to the summit.
A big black cloud has appeared on our way down
10.) Return home can be a reverse of the ascent but at the 910m contour we carried straight on and joined the track more or less due south of the fence corner.
Starting to rain as we rejoin track we followed on ascent. 
11.) I did find a small cairn that marked the point where we joined the track and therefore a marker to go for the summit from here, but on balance I think the ascent route is easier to stay on the track and follow the route we took.
After an hours walk through heavy rain nearly back at Coishavachan
12.) Turn right on to track and follow it all the way back to the ford and small dam. On the way down I met a guy who had delayed starting because of the wet morning and decided to give it a go when it cleared up. He was now heading up-hill in the pouring rain. So pleased we got on with our day as planned.
Invergeldie Burn crossing in middle of picture.
Coishavachan and walks end is behind trees right of bridge
13.) Once at the ford you are nearly home and all that remains is to follow the track back past Coishavachan Farm and on to the car park and walks end.

More Photographs
Windy & Cold on Ben Chonzie summit

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