Many years ago i used to frequent this area quite a lot especially the forest trails around Cornish Hill and Loch Bradan. I eventually climbed Shalloch on Minnoch back in 2011 when i just bagged the Corbett on its own, this time in order to make the walk more worthwhile i intended to take in Tarfessock as i hadn't been there yet.
Driving over the Stinchar Bridge i noticed quite a bit of forestry clearance had been going on in the area though the start of the walk is well clear of this and there are better parking opportunities now.
The minute i left the road for the path i knew i was in for a bog trot and the Splinty Burn was in spate so the walking sticks plus a dry boulder top peaking out of the torrent really helped here.The path was very wet and remained that way until i reached the top of Caerloch Dhu where things greatly improved though the area around the lochan further on was a bogfest. Leaving the wet stuff behind i picked my way up through the small rocks covering the northern slopes of the Corbett and quickly arrived at the trig pillar and large cairn where i had my first pit stop of the day. The views north towards Cornish Hill and east to Loch Riecawr were great but got even better as i headed to Minnoch's south cairn which i'd read was the true summit of the hill.
From the southern edge of Minnoch's summit plateau the views included my next hill, Tarfessock as well as Kirriereoch Hill and the northern bulk of The Merrick and to the east i looked down to the white dot that was the Tunskeen Bothy with Loch Macaterick beyond.
Tarfessock soon beckoned and off i went down the boulder strewn southern slopes of Minnoch where a bit of attention was required as some areas of the grass concealed numerous little rock holes but the ascent up the Donald was straightforward enough with a cairn marking the summit.
The views from Tarfessock looking east were the highlight with the wild scenery north of The Merrick giving a real sense of the Galloway hill country. I gazed across at Kirriereoch Hill and it was tempting but with my dwindling supplies it looked like a bridge too far and best kept as an excuse to return to this amazing area at a later date.
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Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.