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Report on Ben Chonzie
1 May 2010   (3448 views)

Today?s Munro Baggers are Irene, Gail, James, Denise and Belle the mutt

All meet at Irene?s house at 8.30am (aaargh I hate these early starts) as James and I not sure where we are going and plan to follow. Decide to all go in Irene?s car so load up the gear and rucksacks in the back with Belle sitting on top and pile in. Set the Sat-Nav with the coordinates of the car park and set off.

Much banter (no singing) on the way and soon we are heading off the main road and driving through some lovely villages. Passed four deer in a field. A bit worried that no hills in sight! Pass Draco (no sign of Harry Potter) and into Comrie. Navigate some narrow streets and pass the Deli Cauldron, must get my eyes tested as Irene informs me it?s the Deil?s Cauldron. Follow Sat-Nav only to pass it again (must be a chain of them or maybe we are lost). Finally find the correct turn off and soon we are on a single track farm road with Ben Chonzie looming ahead. Reach a fork in the road with Sat-Nav declaring ?you have reached your destination?. Abandon car in middle of fork and set off.

Pass some small holdings through a gate and onto the track which will take us up. Loads of lovely spring lambs gambolling about. One either very brave or very stupid one charges up to Belle who takes off with the lamb chasing her. Maybe it thinks she is a black wiry coated sister.

Soon we are half way up without even realising it. A good sturdy path which follows the river up. As we get higher the clouds close in obscuring the view, hate when that happens. Much talk, mainly politics and the election!! Near the top there are a few plateaus which level out and also have a cairn so keep thinking we are at the top when we are not. Can?t see more than a few feet in front of us. Good thing is not very tiring as you climb then get a break walking flat. Belle loves flat parts where she can charge about (hope she doesn?t get too muddy or Irene might not let her back in the car. Could always tie her to the bumper to run home). Spotted the famous Ben Chonzie hares, still with their light winter coats running over the heather and then disappeared into some snow. Still quite a few patches of snow about. Irene indignant that she won?t set foot in any more snow so goes round most of it, but nearer the top she has to go through it declaring that this is definitely the last snow she will set foot in this year. Yeah Irene, dream on!

Finally reach what we think is the top with a really large cairn. Gail states that she thought there was a trig point so Irene gets the GPS out and checks our height. It reads 3 metres higher than the top so we must be there! Visibility nil (I hate when that happens). Three men appear out of the mist and inform us that it?s the first climb for two of them and they are training to do Ben Nevis for charity. Good luck guys.

Manage to eat lunch behind cairn but hands are frozen. Hung about just long enough to consume 2 egg sandwiches then started the descent. Up until this point it had all been very pleasant but then the snow storm started and we came down in a blizzard. OK so I exaggerate?.snow flurries then hail! I didn?t thaw out until we were at least half way down. Only good thing was we didn?t hang about chatting and were down in an hour.

Pile into car to thaw out and head to Deil?s Cauldron for a stiff drink and something to eat but it?s shut. Pass the same four deer in a field (they must be tame) and end up in the Little Chef for an all day breakfast and some frothy coffee and pastries, yummie.

Denise Smith

view across from path
Denise and Irene in snow again!
on the summit
sheep and lamb

Photos: Irene Cahill

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