Shalloch-on-Minnoch Walk

Shalloch-on-Minnoch wide image

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
Distance: ?

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 Loch Doon.

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

Stinchar Bridge image

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 show.

Larger Map

Shalloch-on-Minnoch Map image

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 with clear skies behind. Kirriereoch and the Merrick are just to the left in this image at the south end of this range.

Shalloch-on-Minnoch in the snow image

The weather began clearing quick so made plans for the north route. The east side is real steep, but has one route up without scrambling.

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 Shalloch-on-Minnoch.

Loch Riecawr image

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 Bothy.

Tunskeen Bothy road image

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.

Rocky Hillside image

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.

View Northwest image

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 was required.

View to the South Rocky Peak image

Approaching the top of Craigmasheenie, was good hiking with large boulders everywhere and a few good height drops here and there.

South Rocky Peak Summit image

The top of Craigmasheenie gave a good view of the north side of Shalloch-on-Minnoch.

Shalloch-on-Minnoch from the South Rocky Peak image

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.

Shalloch-on-Minoch North Side image

Below is the start of the east ridge.

Shalloch-on-Minnoch 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.

View from Shalloch-on-Minnoch image

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.

There is a spot up this ridge that the wind blows through real hard, so be careful.

Shalloch-on-Minnoch East Ridge

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.
Large Image.

Loch Riecawr from Shalloch-on-Minnoch image

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 Shalloch-on-Minnoch.

Galloway Hills in the distance image

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.

Shalloch-on-Minnoch East Ridge Summit image

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 fairly easy, as long as there is no snow and ice.
Large Image.

The Merrick and Kirriereoch hill image

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 Image.

Sahlloch-on-Minnoch Summit image

Below is the view south towards the Merrick. Large Image.

Shalloch-on-Minnoch Trig Point image

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 down.

Shalloch-on-Minnoch East Side 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 steep.

Shalloch-on-Minnoch East Side from the Road image

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.

Shalloch-on-Minnoch from the Forest Road image

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 Party.

Shalloch on Minnoch from Kirrieoch Hill image

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 melting.

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.

Large Route Map . Short Video

Shalloch-on-Minnoch easy Route from Stinchar Bridge.

The Merrick Tour

Kirriereoch Tour .