Another Munro outlier gets climbed

Ben Chonzie (931m)

  • Pronunciation:              Ben Chonzie (often pronounced Ben y Hone)
  • Translation:                   Mossy Mountain
  • Total distance:              14.1km
  • Total time:                     3hrs 40mins
  • Total ascent:                 757m
  • Weather:                        Grey and misty with some light rain. Turned a lot warmer than of late at +10° at starting point. Snow cover above 550m thawing rapidly. Gale force winds near the top made for unpleasant conditions.
  • Start / end location:   Car-park by Coishavachan approximately 6km up Glen Lednock above the village of Comrie. [OS Map Sheet 51 – Grid Ref: NN 743 274]
  • Map:                                A map of route can be found here – it may take a few moments to load into a separate window. The map displays on most browsers, but not unfortunately Internet Explorer.

The weather forecast suggested that the early part of the morning would see persistent rain and storm-force winds across the tops, but brightening up around midday with good sunny spells. So with this forecast in mind we decided on a slightly later start of around 10:00 for this climb.

From our overnight camp along the shores of Loch Earn we headed east to the village of Comrie and the start of Glen Lennock, where we followed the single-track road northwestward along the glen for about 6km. We parked at a small car-park by Coihavachan.

Low down on the land-rover track leading to Ben Chonzie

It was spitting rain by the time we left the car-park and cloud level was masking all of the surrounding peaks. It was very noticeable just how much milder it was today compared to the temperatures of late – in fact compared to the temperatures since mid November 2010! It was +10° when we left the car-park and we could see that much of the snow on the lower slopes had thawed leaving striated fingers of white and brown across the hillsides.

The route along a well-made land-rover track had us heading north for a few hundred metres in order to bypass the dwellings around Coishavanach and Invergeldie before the track curved NNE to reach a tiny dam. Just below the dam the track arced round in a couple of tight switchbacks before continuing in roughly an ENE direction until it began to level out on a huge high plateau at a height of 800m. En route to the plateau the land-rover track had effectively become a stream as melt–water and the recent heavy rain had combined to saturate the ground. From around 600m the remnants of the deep snow were heavy and sodden and had the consistency of a “slush-puppy” drink. Gaiters were an essential piece of kit.

Elaine at the summit of Ben Chonzie

Once on the plateau a compass bearing kept us on a track-less snowy course to intersect a line of old fence posts that ran in a northwesterly direction before turning 90° to the northeast to reach up to the summit of Ben Chonzie at 931m or 3,054’.

From the dog-leg in the fence posts the wind had really picked up and was blowing gale force over the summit plateau. When we reached the summit we simply took a couple of quick photos (in the mist … again) and retraced our steps for our descent. We met up with a couple of chaps that we’d overtaken on the way up as well as numerous other little groups at various stages of ascent. One group of four enquired with us about the summit conditions and from our description of the mist and gale-force winds decided that they weren’t really equipped or experienced enough to make it safely to the top and back again – they were happy with the progress they’d made and wisely chose to turn back and wait for a better day.

Oh the irony - don't let your dog disturb the birds because we want to shoot them

Although, once again, the conditions today weren’t very favourable, Ben Chonzie is an outlier of a Munro tucked up Glen Lednock and far from any other Munros and so it was good to get it done.


About Cameron Speirs

Born and brought up in the Scottish Highlands, Cameron, has been interested in outdoor pursuits since he was a wee lad. Over the last few decades he has climbed extensively in the Italian Dolomites as well as summiting the Matterhorn and several other 4000m alpine peaks. Closer to home he has spent many wonderful weekends mountaineering and biking in Snowdonia, Cairngorms, Glen Coe, Skye and Lochaber.
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