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Up the Merrick and down the valley

Up the Merrick and down the valley

Postby Silverhill » Wed Aug 26, 2020 8:05 pm

Route description: The Merrick via Loch Valley, from Glen Trool

Corbetts included on this walk: Merrick

Donalds included on this walk: Merrick

Date walked: 08/08/2020

Time taken: 6.25 hours

Distance: 15 km

Ascent: 818m

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I left home ridiculously early for a Saturday morning for the long drive down south, only to find the car park at the end of the Glen Trool Road almost full, and it was only 9.00am! Thought I'd pay a visit to Bruce's Stone before the walk, but the site had turned into a wee tent village and people were having their breakfast at the Stone. It thought it would be a bit rude to trample their breakfast table, so I turned round again.

The start of the walk is very well signposted and route finding was never difficult. The excellent weather of course helped with this.

Buchan burn waterfall



Once on the open hillside there was not much wind around and I was quickly reminded what a struggle walking uphill in hot weather can be. Couldn't blame it on limp lockdown legs, because a week ago I had virtually skipped up Broadlaw. Luckily from Benyellary onwards there was a cooling breeze.

Benyellary cairn

Towards the Merrick

Merrick trig point

On the summit plateau I noticed a rock with a curious arrow on it, pointing to the trig. I doubted its use for route finding, so I googled it at home: it is (was) a benchmark as used in surveying. Basically it has the same purpose as the flush brackets you find on trig points.
The arrow in question was part of a pivot benchmark. The rock would have had a small hole, cut to have a pivot inserted. A levelling rod would then be placed on top of the pivot. I assume this benchmark rock was the predecessor of the trig point on the Merrick.
Should anyone wish to start 'bagging' benchmarks, there is a website where you can record any benchmarks you've found: www.bench-marks.org.uk

Rock with pivot benchmark

Pointing to the trig

Panorama of the lochs

The views towards the West were a bit hazy, but that was ok because the views on the other side towards the lochs were magnificent.
After a few sandwiches I dropped down the South East ridge heading for Loch Enoch. Halfway down I met another walker who had camped at one of the lochs and was now on his way to the Merrick. We had a chat and both remarked how beautiful Loch Enoch looked from this end. I already knew the answer but nonetheless I asked him if the route down Loch Valley was very boggy and rough. To which the answer was 'Always'. And he was right.... But that was for later, right now it all looked stunning.

Loch Enoch

I had a break at the shore of Loch Enoch, listening to the water lapping the rocks for a while. Spotted another rock with inscription. This would be a very pretty spot for a wild camp.

Rock with inscription at Loch Enoch

From here, as per description, the route becomes very soggy and rough indeed. I had toyed with the idea of following the Rig of Loch Enoch and continuing along Buchan Hill for the way back, to avoid the squelch, but in this hot weather I didn't fancy any more uphill bits. There still wasn't a breath of wind. So it was downhill and deal with the bog.

Further down towards Loch Neldricken the sketchy path has quite a lot of 'surprise' holes to keep you focussed and on your toes. Well, I located 3 of them. Because forward momentum prevailed when I stepped into the holes, I found myself planking in the bog on all 3 occasions. Move over Joe Wicks!

Loch Neldricken

The route is very scenic, but the going was extremely slow. I met a few more groups who were all on their way to the Merrick and was quietly glad I had done the route clockwise. My resolve to do the Merrick would probably be waning by now.

Loch Valley

Gairland Burn

Loch Trool

4 hours and 15 minutes after leaving the summit of the Merrick, I reached the road, relieved and chuffed that I hadn't sprained an ankle. I paid Bruce's Stone a visit. It was much quieter now and the tents had disappeared. It was a lovely spot to just sit and stare across the water before starting the long drive back home.

Bruce's Stone
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Re: Up the Merrick and down the valley

Postby litljortindan » Thu Aug 27, 2020 8:24 pm

You definitely need a wee breeze after a windless start and I don't think I'll follow the valley descent if/when I get there.
The lochs view does look great.
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Re: Up the Merrick and down the valley

Postby Silverhill » Thu Aug 27, 2020 9:40 pm

Thanks litljortindan! I was a bit optimistic in thinking that 2 days of hot weather would be enough to dry out the bog.... :roll:
It is a good route if you're not in a hurry. Still tough, but the weather was on my side and I had the whole afternoon to get back down.
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Grahams:6   Donalds:33
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