Walk: The Merrick, Murder Hole & Range of the Awful Hand!

Dumfries & Galloway | Galloway Forest Park | Full day walk | ★★★

[Benyellary from the ascent path]

Nowhere does place names like Galloway! The Range of the Awful Hand is a chain of 5 hills stretching across a large swathe of Galloway Forest Park, of which the two southernmost "fingers" comprise the lofty peak of The Merrick and lower Benyellary. This circuit is a walk of contrasting halves, with a straightforward path providing the direct way up from the popular beauty spot of Glen Trool. You could return the same way for an easier day out, but it all seems a bit easy for what is the fourth highest hill in the Southern Uplands. Returning via 4 lochs amongst craggy moorland allows the perfect circular route... apart from boot-swallowing bogs which often characterise the middle section. We can confirm the going's largely fine after a dry spell, but beware the Murder Hole: the stagnant western fringe of Loch Neldricken, rumoured to be a past dumping ground for human corpses. Best not go for a swim. Back at the base, don't miss out on the Bruce's Stone - overlooking a battle site from the Wars of Independence - as well as the glittering waters of Loch Trool itself.

[Neive of the Spit connects Benyellary to The Merrick: from the summit you can easily see Arran, Ailsa Craig, Kintyre, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Lake District on a clear day!]

Location & info

📌 Walk: The Merrick, Murder Hole & Range of the Awful Hand! ★★★
Start / finish at car park at minor road end in Glen Trool, 4 mi east of Glentrool Village, G.R.: NX 416805 ///happen.distilled.maps

▶ 15 km / 9 mi | ▲ 880 m | ⌚ Full day
Features: Bruce's Stone; Buchan Waterfall; △ Benyellary (719 m); △ The Merrick (843 m, Corbett / Donald); Loch Enoch; Loch Neldricken & the Murder Hole; Loch Valley
Tough | Good paths (some tracks) all the way to The Merrick, often surfaced although with some steep sections. Pathless descent to Loch Enoch; intermittent, faint and potentially wet paths follow, gradually becoming clearer as progress south is made.

Route: Start & Bruce's Stone - Buchan Waterfall - Culsharg - Benyellary - The Merrick - Redstone Rig - Loch Enoch (southern end) - low bealach immediately to west of Craig Neldricken - pass to east of Loch Arron - Murder Hole - Loch Valley - start

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On our visit

Wildlife: Our first cuckoo of the season heard. A few grouse and lots of curly-horned sheep.
Weather: Mostly sunny although cloud filling in through the afternoon. Around freezing at the top with a cold northerly wind and the odd very light snow flurry on descent. A few small snow wreaths remaining on The Merrick's northern slopes.

[Several picturesque lochs vie for attention on the return leg: this is Loch Valley, the fourth one]


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