Where: Shalloch-on-Minnoch, Ayrshire
When: April 14th 2012
Who: I Parker
Why: good weather so a day out
Weather: Sunny Spells
Height: 2,520 ft
Shalloch-on-Minnoch is the highest hill /
mountain in Ayrshire at 2,520 ft, situated
about 26 miles southeast of Ayr next to Loch
Riecawr and close to Loch Doon. There are two
ways to this hill/mountain, from the Straiton
road or Dalmellington road via
Shalloch-on-Minnoch is on the north end of
the Merrick Range (Awful Hand).
I took the Straiton road from Ayr as it is
the most direct route from the west. From the
scenic village of Straiton, it is about 7 miles to
the Stincher Bridge, as seen below, on the
B741 hill road leading to Newton Stewart. The
forest road here off to the left leads to
Loch Braden, Loch Riecawr, Loch Doon and
Dalmellington. The road is known as the
Carrick Forest Drive. There may be wood
trucks working along the road so you may have
to pull into passing places now and again.
There can be a few pot holes along the road
so it is not suitable for low cars.
If you do not want to take your car along
the forest road, you can park at the large
car park area here and follow one of two
trails from this car park.
Road Map .
Below is a map showing the routes to
Shalloch-on-Minnoch from the north. The route
to the left starts by parking at the Stinchar
Bridge car park and walk down Newton Stewart
Road for about one third of a mile. Two
hundred yards past where the woodland ends,
at a large passing place, follow the narrow
track over Cairnadloch Hill and Caeloch Dhu
Hill. This is a steady hike and probably the
fastest. I took 1 hour 35 minutes one time.
The track is a bit wet in places but not too
bad with thick heather either side, the path
is the only way over these hills. There is a
narrow burn to cross by stepping stones 50
yards off the road, then it is plain sailing.
The burn can be un-crossable if there has
been heavy rain though. The large passing
place where this trail starts can hold a
number of cars. Large Image from
the Passing Place.
The other route from the Stinchar Bridge
car park is follow the The Cornish Hill
Trail, a man made trail through the
forest, over Cornish Hill, down to Cornish
Loch, up to the 1,666 ft Shiel Hill, over to
the 1,768 ft Craigmasheenie, then up onto
Shalloch-on-Minnoch. There is a burn to cross
onto Shiel hill that may be difficult if
there has been a lot of rain.
Some people do 6 hills here in a loop from
the Stinchar Bridge. Cornish Hill, Shiel
Hill, Craigmasheenie, Shalloch-on-Minnoch,
Caerloch Dhu and Cairnadloch Hill. Check the
burn before taking on this route, or take
knee high waterproof boot covers, or heavy
duty bin liners, handy to keep in the
rucksack for crossing shallow burns.
The routes from the car parks at Loch
Riecawr go down the forest road marked the
Tunskeen Bothy, as the photo tour below will
I left Ayr at about 0800 where it was
sunny but cold, had to clear the frost off
the car. The weather forecast was a mixture
of sun and cloud with a stiff, cold breeze
from the northwest. I reached the parking and
play area at Loch Riecawr just before 0900 to
find Shalloch-on-Minnoch covered in snow. A
look north showed the clouds moving fast
towards the south and clear skies behind.
Kirriereoch and the Merrick are just to the
left in this image at the south end of this
The weather began clearing quick so made
plans for the north route. The east side is
real steep, but has one route up without
I planned to make my way up onto the rocky
ridge at the clearing, as can be seen on the
photo below, walk along the rocky ridge, then
onto the snow covered north side of
About one third of a mile back along the
road, I took the forest road down the side of
the loch marked for the Tunskeen
As soon as I reached the clearing in the
forest, I began hiking up to the top of the
rocky ridge. This is cleared woodland with no
trails so is a bit testing. This takes you up
to between Shiel Hill and Craigmasheenie.
The top of the rocky ridge gives good
views northwest as seen below.
If you walk out from the car park at the
Stinchar Bridge, that trail will bring you to
the 1,532 ft Cornish Hill and Cornish Loch as
seen below. The 1,666 ft Shiel Hill is to the
right in this image. You have to scross a
narrow burn at Cornish Loch to get to Shiel
Hill, and the Trig Point on Shiel Hill sits
on a lump of granite sticking out the top of
the hill. It is a fair hike up from Cornish
Loch through heather to Shiel hill, following
faint animal tracks. Hiking round to
Shalloch-on-Minnoch along the ridge from
Shiel Hill is fairly good going, with a bit
of rock hopping here and there.
The view across from the ridge at Shiel
Hill to the the 1,768 ft Craigmasheenie
revealed a fair hike down and back up again
Approaching the top of Craigmasheenie, was
good hiking with large boulders everywhere
and a few good height drops here and
The top of Craigmasheenie gave a good view
of the north side of Shalloch-on-Minnoch.
Between Craigmasheenie and
Shalloch-on-Minnoch is a deeper drop than it
looked from the car park, so much for the
easy route to the top. I wanted to hike up
the ridge for the good views over the lochs
but noticed some cliffs on that route. I
decided to head right in this image then over
onto the ridge when above the cliffs.
This route up certainly is the most
testing, and gives the sense you are hiking
up a real testing mountain.
Below is the start of the east ridge.
By the time I reached the ridge, the snow
was disappearing fast. You can see the route
I took from the top of Loch Riecawr on the
right, up through the clearing, then along
the rocky ridge onto this mountain.
The hike up the east ridge was just what I
expected with great views all around. Note
the top of this mountain is over to the right
on the west side.
Close to the top of the east ridge is a
great place for photos. Loch Riecawr is in
the middle of this photo and Loch Doon higher
to the right. Loch Doon runs for miles,
almost to the left side of this photo.
The view south from the east ridge shows
the highest mountains in the neighbouring
county of Dumfries & Galloway. The border
between the counties of Ayrshire and Galloway
runs across this area, just south of
The top of the east ridge is marked by a
pile of stones. The white Trig Point stone
and cairn a few hundred yards west is
supposed to mark the top of the mountain, and
the cairn about 100 yards north of that, is
supposed to mark the highest point.
The view south from here gives a good view
of the Galloway mountains with the highest
being the Merrick at 2,766 ft, and the one in
front of that being the 2,579 ft Kirriereoch.
The Merrick is the highest mountain in
southern Scotland. Would have liked to have
hiked the three of these but would have been
a long day. The north side of Kirriereoch is
real steep, but straight forward enough up
through boulders. From Kirriereoch. to the
The Merrick is faily easy, as long as there
is no snow and ice.
The view west from the cairn shows the
wind farm on the Hadyard Hills, then beyond
that the Firth of Clyde with the Island of
Ailsa Craig just left of the stone, the Mull
of Kintyre beyond that and the Isle of Arran
to the north. Large
Below is the view south towards the
I decided to take the short route back
down between Shalloch-on-Minnoch and
Craigmasheenie, then down the east side,
followng the ridge to the left in this image
The view below is from the Tunskeen Bothy
forest road showing this is the more direct
route by following the road right to here.
There is one steep route up here that does
not require scrambling, but is real
Its about a two mile walk back to the car
park at Loch Riecawr from Shalloch on
Minnoch. The image below is looking back from
the Tunskeen Bothy forest road. This is the
best road in the park with plenty of passing
places, not sure if you are allowed to drive
down this road to the Tunskeen Bothy.
The forest road in the image above,
heading south, leads to the Tunskeen Bothy at
the south side of Shalloch-on-Minnoch, just
north of the 2,579 ft Kirriereoch and the
2,766 ft Merrick.
The image below is by Rick Heath from the
steep northeast face of Kirriereoch looking
at the south side of Shalloch-on-Minoch, when
his party were doing the three 2,500 ft +
mountains here from the Tunskeen Bothy.
More images of the Tunskeen Bothy and the
Climb by the Rick Heath
The hike took me about six hours including
the walk through the forest road. I had to
hang about a few times waiting for the clouds
to roll over so as to get sunny photos, this
added some time to the trip.
The hike was a bit soggy on the lower part
of the north side, probably due to the snow
Getting dropped off at the large passing
place 1 third of a mile south of the Stinchar
Bridge, hiking across Cairnadloch, Caeloch
Dhu, Shalloch-on-Minnoch, Tarfessock,
Kirriereoch, Little Spear, The Merrick,
Benyellary then down to Loch Trool to be
picked up at the Buce's Stone car park is a
good hike along the Merrick Range, taking
between 6 and 9 hours.
Map . Shalloch-on-Minnoch easy
Route from Stinchar Bridge .
The Merrick Tour .
Kirriereoch Tour .