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Sunday, 21 March 2010

Wigtownshire Ramblers-The Merrick and the Buchan Ridge March 2010

Saturday the 20th of March 2010.
I can't explain why it's taken me so long since coming back to Scotland to climb the highest hill in South West Scotland.Today I'll be joined by thirteen fellow walkers.
I'm also doing the press report for this walk,so the paragraphs from that will be in italics.

Fourteen walkers gathered at Bruces Stone Car Park above Loch Trool for the walk to the summit of the Merrick,South West Scotlands highest peak.

Light cloud and occasional sunshine saw the group begin the walk by taking the traditional route alongside the Buchan Burn and it's magical waterfalls.They soon reached the sign with instructions to use the high path. This took them higher above the Buchan Burn.

They continued on through the woods at Stroquhan,where the first signs of spring were apparent by the appearance of new shoots coming through the forest floor.
Once out of the woods they now came within sight of the Culsharg Bothy.Although the windows and doors are gone the bothy looks in a reasonable condition,with it's roof still intact.

The pace up till now had suited me,but i remember from my snowy walk on Benyellery how steep the gradient would get.
We stop here for everybody to catch up.We'll soon get strung out again.The gradient increases on this path that follows the Whiteland Burn up through the trees.

After passing the bothy they crossed a forest road and began the long haul up Benyellery.The steep section following the course of the Whiteland Burn through the woods saw the more exuberant walkers forging ahead.Occasional stops had to be made to allow the more moderate climbers to catch up.

Out of the forest they continued following the well trodden path up the Braes of Mulgarvie,through a gate almost midway,and on to the drystane dyke.Lots of snow still lay in the deeper ruts and depressions.

By now the mast on Bennan was below them,and good all round views were enjoyed.

Reaching the dyke they then followed it to the summit of Benyellery where lunch was taken.
Benyellery Summit and I get my picture taken.Brilliant all round views.

Our Illustrious walk leader smiles for the camera,as Scoop takes pictures.

The dyke proved to be an effective windbreak.Although the weather changed slightly to become more overcast,spectacular views over the surrounding hills and lochs were still enjoyed.
A couple of pictures stitched together showing the broad bulk of the Merrick.

After lunch they now headed along the ridge known as the Neive of the Spit, while the Scars of Benyellery fell away to the right.

The easy going was soon replaced with tough climbing on reaching the Broads of the Merrick and the final push to the summit.Previously stripped off coats were again donned as the wind began to whip up.
A look back towards Benyellery in the above collage.
There's lots of stuff on the internet regarding the Galloway Hills,but I've recently discovered Andy Wallace's website at Andyfellwalker
He doesn't half get around the country.

Upon reaching the summit,cameras appeared as if from nowhere for photocalls.A number of group photos were also taken.
There were brilliant but slightly hazy views over the Rhins of Kells.

After enjoying the spectacular views the descent began.The clouds began to dissipate slightly.
The precipitous descent took them down the Rig of the Gloon and the Kirn Burn.A few minor slips and accidental sit downs brought lots of smiles,but no serious injuries.

Fantastic views of Lochs Enoch,Arron,Neldricken and Valley as well as the surrounding hills,brought them down to the rocky outcrop known as the Grey Man of the Merrick.

Loch Enoch in the top picture in the above collage has at least one sunken WW2 plane.
Registered on the 'The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland' website is an Armstrong Whitworth Whitley V.It was an RAF plane with a polish crew and went down on the 29 May 1941.
A Junkers 88 is also supposed to have crashed into the Loch,but very little information is available concerning that.No attempt has ever been made to recover the bodies.

The expressions on the stoney face of the Grey Man vary depending where he's viewed from.

As the group crossed over the fords to the Rig of Loch Enoch,he had a knowing smirk on his face.

Next they headed south along the Rig of Loch Enoch and onto the Buchan Ridge passing each of the aforementioned lochs in turn.
A look back at the Merrick.

The sun began to make an appearance again as the group enjoyed a short refreshment break at Craignine overlooking Loch Neldricken.The "Murder Hole" of Neldricken was discussed and apparently refers to an incident in Samuel Crockett's novel "The Raiders".
One walker claimed that the real murder hole was near Rowantree Bridge on the Water of Minnoch,and was where the bodies of murdered travellers were dumped.

Now they followed a very boggy path along the Buchan Ridge.Large precariously balanced boulders,remnants from the glacial age were dotted at irregular intervals.Two cairn topped peaks were reached before the final one on Buchan Hill.

Now,Loch Trool,Bruce's Stone and the cars came into view.Next came another steep precarious descent over Black Gairy,taking them down by the waterfalls to the Buchan Bridge.

Love this view of the Buchan.If you fancy a holiday here,then click.

A last climb up the forest road brought them back to Bruce's Stone and the welcoming cars.

After my operation in 2009,my first walk back with the Ramblers was along the Buchan Ridge to Loch Enoch.
2009 Buchan Ridge to Loch Enoch
I'd forgotten how scenic it was.
I'd also forgotten the link I posted then to the excellent book by S.R.Crockett written in 1904 called Raiderland,so I'll publish it here again.

Today was long and tiring,but so very enjoyable.

1 comment:

  1. Nice collection of photographs Jim.The Merrick is one of my favourite hills....must get back for another visit soon.
    I read that you can see the Carnedd range in Snowdonia on a clear day which apparently is the longest line of sight available in the British Isles if I remember correctly.I`ll try and find the link again and send it to you...



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