Many of Scotland's 3,000ft mountains, the Munros, have some distinguishing feature or other. Most northerly, most southerly, most remote, highest, easiest to reach from a public road, scariest, and so on. Ben Chonzie features in many people's lists as the "most boring" Munro. Others have suggested that there's no such thing as a boring mountain: only boring people. And if you take the route described here, it's a doubly unfair description.
The guidebooks will point you at one of two routes up Ben Chonzie. One starts in Glen Lednock, at Invergeldie, and from there you can follow a track almost all the way onto Ben Chonzie's main ridge, some way south of the summit.
The other, described here, starts at the excellent car park just below Loch Turret dam. To get to it you follow the A85 Lochearnhead road out of Crieff for a couple of miles, and turn right up a minor road towards the Glen Turret distillery. Shortly after you pass the distillery a sign points to the Loch on your left, and a good quality single track road leads up the glen to the car park.
Once out of your car, routefinding calls for no great skill: though if you do find yourself on the summit without a map or compass when the clouds roll in, remember the trip down can be much longer than the trip up (or, alternatively, given the cliffs facing Glen Turret, both shorter and much quicker). From the car park you should walk past the dam's pump house and take the stony track that leads above the east side of the loch and beyond it into upper Glen Turret.
The guidebooks suggest two routes from the Loch Turret approach. One weaves through the glacial deposits and cuts across the burn feeding Loch Turret at its north western end and then up onto Ben Chonzie from the south. This looks possible, but if there's any evidence of a track on the ground it passed us by.
The other approach is the more popular, and if your visit coincides with a school's sponsored climb as ours did, it can seem very popular indeed. This follows the track to where it finishes at what look like the concrete foundations of a domestic garage; and then continues in much the same line, climbing across sometimes damp ground towards the low point on the ridge ahead of you between Ben Chonzie to the left and the sadly anonymous "Point 755" on the OS 50,000 map to the right.
The steepest part of the day's outing is the climb of the headwall of the glen, but while you will need to get your hands out of your pockets this scarcely qualifies as a scramble: and neither is the climb as long as it looks as you approach. The adventurous can trek off to the right on a vague zig-zag track, but it's probably easier simply to tackle the headwall directly.
Emerging at the bealach above the headwall, you still have some climbing to do, but at last you start to be rewarded by more distant views (mist allowing) that ought to extend to Ben Lawers and beyond in the north west. The "ought to" and the lack of images on this page reflect our tackling it on a day when the weather forecast of a perfect summer's day missed the mark...
A few false summits remain to be traversed along the line of some old fence posts, but before long you emerge at the summit of Ben Chonzie, with a stone shelter that was decorated when we arrived by 57 preparatory school children, parents, and teachers. Close by, and oddly deserted in the circumstances of our visit, is the small cairn which seems to mark the summit itself. You may cast anxious glances south west, where another cairn can be seen perhaps 400 yards away on what looks like it could be higher ground. The map is reassuring: you are standing a clear contour line above anything else on the summit ridge.
As you start your decent, Ben Chonzie has a trick in store for the unwary. Your route back down the north east ridge follows the line of fence posts you followed on the way up. But what you probably won't notice on the way up is that these peter out short of the top. When descending you can't actually see the first of them from the summit. What you can see very clearly from the summit, however, is the obvious line of fence posts leading down the north west ridge. Don't fall for it: this will take you a very, very long way out of your way.
OK, so Ben Chonzie isn't Scotland's most difficult or remote Munro; but neither is it boring. Those who think that any Scottish mountain is boring should perhaps drop hillwalking in favour of something they might find more challenging, like knitting.
Visitor InformationView Location on Map
Ben Chonzie is 3,054ft or 931m high.
The route described here is about 13km or just 8 miles in length, and involves some 600m of ascent.
Grid Ref: NN 773 309