Clouds and Cloudberries
July 28, 2018, 8:53 pm
Filed under: running

We had tickets to see Natalie Merchant at the Queen’s Hall on Friday 20th July, so we loaded our packs during the day. We’re getting more relaxed about packing and it only takes half a day now, but inevitably we’re going to forget something vital sooner or later.

The concert was great, and we were still buzzing when we got home. Fortunately this weekend’s destination was Crieff, so we didn’t have a particularly early start. Train to Stirling and then bus to Crieff and we were ready to start walking about 11am. Downhill to the appealing Macrosty Park then uphill all the way to Ben Chonzie, passing Glenturret distillery on the way before the long  road up to the dam, tarmac all the way. Along the road we stopped to look at the tiny powerhouse which supplies electricity to the waterworks above it. The waterworks are unsightly but the powerhouse was hidden in the glen at the foot of a set of interesting steps.

The dam isn’t that intrusive in the landscape but the building to its east is architecturally unusual and I couldn’t find anything to suggest what it’s used for or when it was built.

The tarmac gives way to a well-used track along the east of the reservoir and we headed along it, stopping at a pretty waterfall to have a brew. We were heading for Lochan Uaine, the green lochan, where I was hoping we could find somewhere to camp.

As the path climbed up from the reservoir, there was a swarm of pretty drumlins, heather bedecked on one side and bracken covered on the other. But it was clear that despite a couple of waterfalls coming down from Ben Chonzie, the area above Loch Turret was dry. We were carrying enough water to see us through to Sunday but Lochan Uaine and the slopes around it didn’t offer anywhere to pitch a tent. After some minutes of not particularly good-natured discussion (!), we decided that we would lug our packs on the steep and scrambly-looking path up towards the summit  and head over Ben Chonzie down into Glen Lednock.

The path was steep and a bit awkward with a load, but it wasn’t as tricky as it had looked from below, there were fantastic views  towards Lawers range to the north and we could even pick out the Lomond Hills in the south. We had some thoughts about camping high, but a stiff breeze was beginning to blow up so we followed the long line of hefty marker cairns down towards Glen Lednock where we could hopefully camp beside the burn.

Before we left the broad plateau however, the sky started to change and there were the most incredible cloudscapes in every direction, changing by the minute. It was magical, and I was so glad we had pressed on up the hill.

The photos don’t begin to convey just how awesome the clouds were, and best of all were these ones, with a row of peaks looking a bit like the cover of Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures.


We met a few more people as we walked down, including a chap running up the hill with his dogs (there’s always one). We were still looking for a place to camp much further down the track when he passed us again. Eventually we found a flattish piece of ground next to a sheep shelter – not the best campsite but it was a good windbreak for the stove. The midges were annoying rather than torturous, the air was cool and mist stayed above us, so we had a decent night’s sleep. Stoats porridge for breakfast, and coffee in a Mr Boom mug 🙂

The mist was well down over the tops in the morning, but we knew we could follow the old fenceline all the way when we got back up to the ridge. The peat hags were dry and easy to negotiate and held  treasure in the shape of cloudberries – sweet, juicy and delicious. As we descended, we fell below the clag, and then the sun started to burn it off, so when we reached the rocky top at Càrn Chòis, it seemed more rewarding than the summit had, with a dyke climbing up to the peak, the continuing ancient fence and a trig pillar.

We followed indistinct paths down towards the loch where we picked up a track that took us all the way back to the dam. The continuing drought had worked for us again, making the bogs easy going and forcing us into the next valley to camp, giving us a much better weekend than the one we had planned.  The tarmac made the walk back down to the town a hot and sweaty trudge but a quick one. We had time for a very welcome ice-cream from Gordon and Durwards  and caught the bus back to Dunblane at quarter to 3. Sometimes the best trips are those that don’t go to plan.



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