A report of an A to B walk of an 18.5km Shalloch on Minnoch and Merrick on the Range of the Awful Hand in Dumfries & Galloway.
Finally, I could meet with my hill walking friend Ben again following the easing of the Covid restrictions in Scotland and get back to travelling to mountains outwith my local authority area. We had not seen each other since October because he lives in Edinburgh and I am in East Dunbartonshire, so as soon as we heard the Covid restrictions might be eased, we both booked a Friday off work (well, he booked a time off and I just took a day off from my desk!).
Ben and I reckoned that bagging a few Corbetts in Dumfries & Galloway would be a great idea, since the Corbetts are usually quieter than other mountains and the region is still a place that is often overlooked by visitors.
We were delighted with our choice and saw very few other walkers during an A to B hike of Shalloch on Minnoch and the Merrick on Friday, followed by Cairnsmore of Carsphairn on Saturday.
An A to B hike of 2 Corbetts – on the Range of the Awful Hand
First, the name! The Range of the Awful Hand is located in the Galloway Hill, and forms the most westerly of three parallel ridges. The range is neighboured to the east by the Dungeon Hills and the Rhinns of Kells. The Minnigaff Hills also lie to the south-east.
The Range of the Awful Hands is named because they look like the fingers of a hand. They are the highest of the Galloway Hills and the Southern Uplands with the highest hill being Merrick.
We walked north to south (distance: 18.5km and a total elevation of 1040m) bagging Shalloch on Milloch first and then the Merrick. There was more overall descent than ascent, which was satisfying.
We took our time and greatly enjoyed the views, especially as we could see the south-west coast, including the prominent island of Ailsa Craig in the Firth of Clyde and the Solway Firth.
We also caught up on our chat. While Ben and I have chatted on the phone over the last six months, walking and talking in person is so much better. It felt fantastic to be walking through a region that has been out of limits for so long and amid such wonderful rolling hills and mountains.
Although the weather forecast had been for rain, we managed to avoid all but a few flurries of snow and bit of spitting drizzle. We watched from afar as a large rain cloud passed around us and headed for the coast. We breathed a sigh of relief that we were not caught in it.
We saw only a couple of other walkers, who also appeared to be enjoying the quiet and solitude on these Corbetts.
While many Corbett baggers might choose to walk Shalloch on Minnoch as one outing and then the Merrick, which is the highest summit in southern Scotland, as another, we thought that joining them together would be a good idea. It really was.
I enjoy an A to B route and while the trods in between the summits were sometimes a bit sketchy, it was easy enough to work out where we should be going.
The ascents were fair to fairly steep and after so long away from the mountains, I did find the long descent after the Merrick a bit sore my knees. Overall, I would call this route a moderate hike. It has far more paths and obvious trods than many other Corbetts that we have walked before.
A trig on each summit
I do like a trig pillar – see go trig bagging – and both Shalloch on Minnoch (768m) and the Merrick (843m) had trigs on top. The 360-degree views were superb.
Donalds along the way
Ben is a keen collector of Donalds and Donald Tops. Donalds were defined in 1935 by Scottish Mountaineering Club member Percy Donald as Scottish Lowlands mountains over 2,000 feet (609.6 m) in height. We visited a few of these as we walked the route.
Sometimes a Donald is hardly noticeable, except for prior knowledge of where the summit might be. Occasionally they are marked on the ground with a pile of stones.
One great change over the last six months, is Ben’s hiking wardrobe. He has decided that bright colours are better than dull ones. I think that the blue jacket looks so much nicer in the photos!
Corbetts bagged: 46 & 47.