With my first wild camp under our belts, it was time for Bailey and my good self to tackle our first proper hill……
There are many reports on here for the Merrick so I’ll keep this one short as most of them will mention its an easy enough path to follow, a bit boggy in places but not all that bad and there’s a little bit of (small) boulder hopping near the start to contend with. Nothing too strenuous and I reckon if you had good walking fitness then it’s definitely doable if it’s your first proper hill. On a clear day you are rewarded with some stunning views that make it a worthwhile climb.
On the way up I got chatting to a couple of young ladies; cousins as it turned out, one was the ‘big’ cousin and the wee cousin (for that you can read younger) was very keen to point that out. I had a good laugh at that wee gem. I pulled aside to let them pass as I thought I’d maybe be holding them up………that and I was trying not to shout too much at my adorable wee dug (who was pulling me up the hill eager to be moving and whining every time his old dad stopped for a breather! ) and I felt a bit self-conscious about hectoring him so much.
We passed each other once or twice on the way up and when they reached the summit, we exchanged a few words and they kindly took a few pics of me and my four-legged fur ball.
On the way back down, I fell into step with them and got chatting about dogs, other hills I could climb with Bailey and family parties of all things. Now, to be fair they might well have been tolerating me ever so slightly toward the end (then again maybe I’m paranoid lol), but I’d like to thank them (pretty sure they mentioned they use the site….well the ‘big’ cousin did anyway) as they wouldn’t have known; but I was out that day to lift my mood and with the wee fella pulling so much I was getting narky and not really enjoying it as much as I’d have liked. But having a wee chat with them on the way up and then back down lifted my mood, ensuring I enjoyed my first summit and set me up nicely for another nights camping at Loch Trool. So, thanks ladies.
Later in the evening I was sitting at my wee camp and exchanged a few words with a young lady who was looking a bit harassed as her and her partner had no lighter with them and therefore no fire, no food and most importantly (in my opinion) no way to make a brew. I shouted her over, gave her my lighter and spent a good 10-15 minutes having a wee blether with her. Turns out her and her partner were down to do a bit of stargazing and I got a quick rundown on one or two things I might be able to see in the night sky later. Sadly, I didn’t see a thing…….I was in my sleeping bag escaping the midge and Bailey was in his….snoring!
I got up around 8 and broke camp at a leisurely pace, deciding that a wee coffee and sandwich at the visitor centre would be better than breaking out the stove for porridge and coffee. Whilst getting myself squared away my mischievous mutt had mugged a passer by for attention! I had spoken to her briefly in the passing the night before as she had bagged a cracking wee spot for her camp and I was moved to congratulate her on it as she sat by a small burn reading a book……and I wandered around looking for my own spot.
So, all packed up I headed back to the car and the same young lady was heading back toward me. Naturally I jokingly asked if she was lost and we had another wee blether; turns out there was no bus service on Sunday for where she was headed and she had a four hour hike ahead of her with what looked like a bloody heavy backpack. She didn’t look to keen on it, so I offered her a lift which was accepted with the proviso ‘as long as it’s not out of your way’…….well, I was headed north and she was headed south…….. ‘nah, not at all. Come on, as long as you don’t mind waiting till I get a coffee at the visitor centre’.
Anyway, I gave her a wee lift to where she was headed and had a good blether in the car about Uni, work and travel. Turned out her name was Kessem (speling?) which means magic in Hebrew apparently, and it got me to thinking that my weekend had turned out to be magic when the opposite had looked likely at one point. And I think it was all because of simple acts of kindness, politeness and friendliness shown to strangers by the people I have mentioned here.
So, No pictures, no descriptive text of the views, just an honest reflection of what I took home with me from my first proper hill....... a reminder that it's nice to be nice.
Share your personal walking route experiences in Scotland, and comment on other peoples' reports.
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.