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First report: Easter overnighter in the Galloway Hills

First report: Easter overnighter in the Galloway Hills

Postby robmayor » Tue May 13, 2014 6:54 pm

Corbetts included on this walk: Corserine, Merrick, Shalloch on Minnoch

Donalds included on this walk: Carlin's Cairn, Corserine, Kirriereoch Hill, Merrick, Shalloch on Minnoch

Date walked: 13/05/2014

Distance: 34 km

Ascent: 1850m

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A first report and an emotional one....here goes:

Got the mountain bug a few years ago after staying just below the Grey Corries for a week and doing some walking there. Had done some day long stuff since and I'd talked loosely with my best mate Howard about the idea of doing some wild camping at some point. We've been mates since our late teens and the idea of getting away with all we need on our backs along with a few beers was great, but as so often with these things we never seemed to get round to it. He worked weekends, I live in Birmingham, he was in Devon etc....As it happened we never would get round to it. Howard died suddenly in February aged 29.

Obviously losing someone you call your best friend is an awful experience, but Howard was someone who really enjoyed life and the great outdoors. He was an enthusiastic geochacher, loved to free dive in the sea and fish, along with walking etc. So whilst his death is still very difficult to comprehend it's made me even more determined to get the most out of life and stop putting stuff off.......so after a couple of trips to go outdoors to pick up the rest of the stuff I needed for an overnight trip and I was all set.

Decided to go on a trial run somewhere not so far away first and had a lovely time (depsite a howling gale whipping up overnight) on Arenig Fawr in Wales (report to come) and now had my sights set on Scotland.

Read a route described in 'Great Mountain Days In Scotland' by Dan Bailey and liked the sound of somewhere not too busy on BH weekend. 5:45am in the car from Birmingham, I pulled up at the South of Loch Doon on the forest track and headed out on the walk in to Shalloch on Minnoch. The going was pretty easy along a forest road, and after an hour and a half or so I'd reached the bottom of the hill. That's where the fun started!!!!

It felt like a never ending ascent over huge Tussocks with long flowing grass which hid sizeable drops into streams and boggy ground. I remembered the book saying 'reach the top with relief' and now I know why!
The view from the top
Imageshalloch by robmayor22, on Flickr

To be fair the ground didn't ease up much from there for the rest of the day. If it wasn't boggy, it was rocky and plenty of ups and downs as I made my way over Tarfessock and made a direct assault on the very steep North side of Kirriereoch HIll:

ImageKirrieochhill by robmayor22, on Flickr

It was then another big drop off, before climbing little spear (some easier ground at last!) and the shapely little ridge to Merrick. The views were great from the top:
ImageMerrick by robmayor22, on Flickr

There was about 90 mins till sunset and I planned to camp at Loch Enoch. To be honest I was starting to worry I'd bitten off a bit more than I could chew as I headed into the shade of the hill and descended. The going was very boggy again with some craggy parts to navigate. I got to Loch Enoch and saw someone had beat me to the first beach.......and then my heart sank as the second fell into view, complete with another tent. Good news though, the couple there said there was actually a better spot not much further on which was out of the slight breeze, but they'd only discovered it after putting their tent up and couldn't be bothered to move I wandered round and wasn't disappointed. After getting the tent up it was time to open a beer and drink it in along with the view from the front door.
ImageLochenochsunrise by robmayor22, on Flickr
ImageLochenochsunsetovermerrick by robmayor22, on Flickr

Bloody lovely, though I was concerned about day 2!

After a decent nights sleep, if a bit cold at times, got up, jet boil on, chicken curry and a cuppa for breakfast! Headed up to the col between Craignaw and Dungoen Hill, looking down to Backhill of Bush bothy.
ImageDungoen hill& Craignaw Col by robmayor22, on Flickr

Then time for some freelance bog stomping across SIlver Flowe. I could hear Howard laughing over my shoulder as I went knee deep at times, the chilly water overcoming my seal skinz! Met a nice group at the Bothy, I didn't look in, but they said it was ok inside, with not too much sign of some of the problems it's had.
ImageBackhillofthebush bothy by robmayor22, on Flickr
From there it was about 3k to the bottom of Corserine. That's a long haul about half way up, when things get less steep and the ground much much easier. (at last!) Met a family at the top and we exchanged cameras.
ImageCorserine by robmayor22, on Flickr
From there it was on over Carlin's Cairn (HUGE CAIRN!) and to Meaul:
ImageLochdoonfromMeaul by robmayor22, on Flickr
From the Col between Meaul and Bow I decided to head down to the head of Loch Doon and back to the car as the wind was starting to get up and there was the odd threatening cloud. Was lazy and didnt take a compass bearing before heading into the pines, and naturally gps died, so there was a fair bit of aimless pine bashing and puzzling over some tracks not on the map. Lesson learned! :clap:

All in all a fantastic couple of days, only saw about 10 people on my travels, and most of them were in a group halfway down Corserine. Even though it feels daft to say it, really felt my best mate was there on my shoulder the whole way. Hope to take Howie on some more adventures soon.

Cheers for reading.

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Re: First report: Easter overnighter in the Galloway Hills

Postby Silverhill » Tue May 13, 2014 9:34 pm

Sounds like a tough walk in the Southern Uplands! What a great camp spot you picked. 8)
I’m sorry to hear your best mate died. But he clearly lives on in your memories. Go and have some more adventures with him. :D
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Re: First report: Easter overnighter in the Galloway Hills

Postby robmayor » Wed May 14, 2014 10:18 am

Cheers, was a tough one, but so lucky with the weather, on a BH as well.
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