The Merrick is Galloway’s highest mountain and also the highest point in Scotland south of Arran’s Goat Fell. However, anyone thinking of The Merrick simply in these terms is missing the point – a walk over this wonderful mountain, and its surrounding landscape, grants some of Scotland’s finest scenery, one dotted with craggy peaks, stunning lochs and wild, lonely glens.
My day began under a gorgeous blue sky, only broken by two red kites who glided gracefully above the calm waters of Loch Trool. Here I paid a quick visit to Bruce’s Stone, commemorating the Battle of Glen Trool, which took place here in 1307 – Robert the Bruce led his loyal Scottish army to a famous victory over English forces.
I left the stone and road behind to enter a lonelier landscape beneath the rocky Buchan Hill and walked alongside the Gairland Burn. I usually prefer to gain height quickly but this route, which rises gradually, makes its way by a series of beautiful lochs, all of which would not look out of place within a more renowned Highland glen. It is, to my mind, the finest way to gain The Merrick’s 843-metre summit.
It was not long before I passed the cold, glassy waters of Loch Valley and then Loch Neldricken. Any signs of human habitation were now non-existent. I was bounded by the craggy slopes of Craignaw and the Rig of Loch Enoch and the two red kites seen earlier were now joined by a pair of ravens who seemed determined to defend their territory.
Once past little Loch Arron I hiked above Loch Enoch, the most scenic of all these lochs. I sat awhile and gazed down onto its sandy shores and little island, itself containing its own lochan. I also scanned the map and became intrigued by the language of the Galloway landscape: Mullwharchar, The Wolf