The Merrick Walk

The Merrick wide image

Where: The Merrick, Glentrool in Dumfries & Galloway by Ayrshire
When: September 5th 2012
Who: I Parker
Why: good weather so a day out
Weather: Sunny Spells
Height: 2,766 ft
Distance: ?

The Merrick is the highest hill/mountain in southern Scotland at 2,766 feet. It is situated by Glentrool village, 34 miles southeast of Ayr via the village of Straiton, 9 miles north of Newton Stewart in the county of Dumfries & Galloway. The village is about 30 houses with a popular small hotel for drinks and meals. The hotel is situated about 1 mile south of the village, named the House o Hill. The Glentrool Holiday Park for camping is close to the village.

Glentrool Park is situated about 1 mile east of Glentrool village with a visitor centre, a few car parks, and many walk/cycle paths throughout.

Below is a view of the Glentrool Visitor Centre with parking for many cars and signs giving information on the walking and biking trails throughout the park, and around Loch Trool. The signs also give information on astrology as this area is so remote, it is classed as a dark skies area, one of the top areas in the UK for viewing the stars.

The car parks for the Merrick Range are 3 miles east of here via a good single lane, tar road, with many passing places. Road Map

Large Walking Routes Map

Glentrool Visitor Centre image

Below is a view of Bruce's Stone by Loch Trool with Mulldonach hill behind. This stone monument is in honour of a battle in the Scottish Wars of Independence, fought here in April 1307.

This stone monument is situated about 3 miles east of the Glentrool Visitor Centre via a well marked single lane road. The road to this monument is good tar with many passing places, the road past the monument is loose surface. There is a car park at the monument that can hold about 12 cars, and another car park 3 hundred yards before the stone that can hold about 30 cars.

The well marked Merrick Walking Trail begins from next to the car park at Bruce's Stone. This is the most popular hill in southwest Scotland, so there will normally be a few cars in the car park. Weekends and holidays, you may have to park in the larger car park 300 yards back down the road.

Bruce's Stone Glentrool image

The map below shows The Merrick Trail highlighted in blue. This is a narrow trail in places with boulders here and there to step over. Part of the trail, on the west side of Benyallary, is man made.

More adventurous hikers go up the steep east side of Eschoncan, over Bennan, then onto the trail at Benyallary.

The Merrick Map image

The image below is of the Bruce's Stone car park with the Merrick Trail sign where the hike begins from.

Merrick Trail start image

The view below shows The Merrick Trail passing Culsharg Bothy with the 2,358 ft Benyallary behind, The Merrick is high right in this image.

Walking along here, you will see the Buchan Hill range over to the right, an alternative way back down, but a more difficult route.

Large Image.

Benyallary Hill

Below is an image of the west side of Benyallary after clearing the trees via a steep woodland path. There is a man made trail most of the way up Benyallary. The path through the woods to here, and this section, are the steepest and most testing part of the hike

Benyallary Hill west side image

The view below shows Benyallary summit with The Merrick behind.

Benyallary summit image

The view below is of the easy to follow trail from Benyallary, over the Neive of the Spit, and up to the Merrick. This is a steadier hike than the one up Benyallary, and the Neive of the Spit is wider than it looks. There are high cliffs here, and on the north side of the Merrick to look out for if visibility is poor.

Large Image.

The Merrick from Benyallary image

The view below is nearing the summit of The Merrick.

The Merrick west side image

The view below is from the summit of The Merrick looking north to the Little Spear, 2,579 ft Kirriereoch and 2,520 ft Shalloch-on-Minnoch. This is a fairly straight forward hike out to those hills but would make for a very long day going out to Shalloch-on-Minnoch and back.

There is an easy route from Shalloch-on-Minnoch down over the 2,162 ft Caerloch Dhu to the road half of a mile south of the Stinchar Bridge, but that is about 16 miles from the Loch Trool car park. A good route if you are being dropped off and picked up, or if your party has two cars. From Bruce's Stone at Loch Trool, over these hills and down to the Stinchar Bridge, is a about a 7 - 9 hour hike. Large Image

Large Map of the Whole Range

Kirriereoch from The Merrick image

I popped down to Little Spear to get a few photos from there. Only took 5 minutes to get down, but 10 minutes hard hiking back up. It is only about one hour from Little Spear to Kirriereoch and back as the south side of Kirriereoch is an easy hike, its north side is more testing.

Little Spear is 2,568 ft with a 600 foot drop down the right side, as seen below, so be careful in poor viability.

Large Image.

Little Spear from The Merrick image

The view below is of The Merrick summit looking southeast for the other way down to Loch Trool, over the Buchan Hill range. This is a lot tougher than The Merrick trail as it has no visible paths in places, and the Buchan Hill range has a number of rocky peaks. If you do not have experience of rough hiking, it may be best to follow The Merrick tourist trail back down.

The Merrick summit image

The image below is from the southeast side of The Merrick heading towards Loch Enoch. The hill behind the loch is the 2,001 ft Dungeon Hill with about 1,000 ft cliffs on the far side. The hill high left in the distance is the 2,671 ft Corserine on the Rhinns of Kells range.

Some hikers looking for a full day hiking go out to Dungeon Hill then head south from Dungeon over Craignaw and Craiglee on route back to Loch Trool, but that is a really testing day.

The Buchan Hill range starts at the corner of the loch, bottom right of the image below. There are no trails down here, just pick your way down towards the south side of the loch, you should then see a faint trail lead onto the Buchan Hill range.

Loch Enoch from The Merrick image

Below is an image from the bottom of The Merrick looking at the start of the Buchan Hill range. There is a faint trail all along the Buchan Range.

Buchan Hill range from The Merrick image

The image below is looking along the Buchan Range with the 1,617 ft Buchan Hill being the highest peak. There are about 6 peaks along this range, most with cairns on the top.

There are soggy patches between these hills so waterproof boots and gaiters are advised for this hike.

I have taken photos of The Merrick from every angle, think the view from Buchan Hill is hard to beat. Large Image

Large Image from the summit back to The Merrick*****

Buchan Hill image

The view below is of the last peak sitting high above the car park and Loch Trool.

Bucahn Hill range last peak image

The view below is from the last peak looking down to the car park and Loch Trool. There is no trail down here, so you just have to pick the best looking way down. This vantage point allows you to plan your descent.

This view also shows the 1,148 ft Eschoncan Hill sitting high above the car park. That is one of the lowest hills here, but also the steepest, with great views over Loch Trool and Bruce's Stone memorial.

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Loch Trool from the Buchan Hill range image

The image below is from descending the Buchan Hill range. You can make your way over to the right here and pick up The Merrick Trail back to the car par, although that route crosses the fast flowing Buchan Burn via stepping stones. The main route is to go down to the road and Buchan Bridge by the Buchan Waterfalls, about 400 yards east of the car park. The waterfalls are well worth viewing. Waterfalls Image.

Buchan Hill descent image

The hike to The Merrick and back following the tourist trail takes about 4 - 5 hours. Going up the tourist trail and back down the Buchan Range will take a bit longer. Going over the Dungeon Range will be even longer.

This was an interesting hike which was not as hard as I expected going up, as I never knew there was a good well marked trail all the way up. Returning down the Buchan Hill route was an adventure with some great views over the many lochs, and rocky hill tops.

Saw a fairly large brown adder when crossing over here to The Merrick Trail, next to a dyke just before the burn. Been looking for adders all year to get some photos and this was the first one I saw. I normally wear gaiters for the wet ground, and incase I tread on an adder, and also use walking poles so less likely to have to put my hands on the ground when crossing rough terrain.

Got attacked by a squadron of midge when arriving back at the car park. There were no midge on the hike so seems they like to ambush the weary hikers on their return in the evening, have since purchased a midge net and jungle spray

Shalloch-on-Minnoch is at the north end of the Merrick range and Kirriereoch in the Middle. Some hikers do the range in two days, from the north and from the south. You need to get dropped off and picked up, or use two cars to do the whole range in one day. Large Route Map.