“Our most recent destination was Galloway Forest Park: a new area for us both. We parked near Loch Trool on the Friday and enjoyed a very pleasant afternoon and evening wandering about and in the van, something we hadn’t had much of a chance to do previously. On Saturday morning we set off on foot, intending to complete a loop that included the summit of the Merrick.
After only about ten minutes we crossed a very pretty stream, just above some high waterfalls, then walked through a number of fields above the Loch, all edged by stone walls. We were happy to spot some real signs of spring, demonstrating how much more advanced the season was compared with further north the previous weekend.
We followed the path into a lovely valley with another stream running down the middle. Although we couldn’t tell you what was special about it, we both found that this area felt very calm and peaceful.
Beyond the head of the valley, the path passes a small loch, Loch Valley; the sun was shining, there wasn’t much wind: it was a lovely place to be.
From this point on, there wasn’t a clear path and we picked our way past three more lochs, through some boggy ground alongside more streams and over a number of small hillocks, until we eventually reach the foot of Redstone Rig leading up to the Merrick. The slope looked quite relentless but we climbed it surprisingly quickly, although a big hailstorm did catch us near the top. We huddled down on the summit to eat our celebratory chocolate raisins before starting the descent. The descent would have made a very long and uninspiring ascent, so we were pleased that we chose the direction we did.
Having passed through the forest, the final stretch of path before reaching the car park is very pretty and would be lovely later in the year.
A beer and a ginger grouse awaited us back in the van followed by a dinner that made Chris very happy: mountains of sweet potato mash, broccoli, sausages and gravy! Having no electronic distractions in the van makes it very relaxing in the evenings.”
“It was the classic idea of “let’s just do a nice short day”…..
We started day three of our Dumfries and Galloway adventure early and with sunny skies above us, looking to tackle the cooly named Rig of Jarkness from Loch Trool. Getting to the ridge was simple enough but as we moved up onto the ridge the ground was rugged and complex, as we had come to expect from this area. I was able to practise navigation techniques such as timing, pacing and relocation, all as the wind started to pick up and the clouds turned darker.
Due to the terrain and the strong wind, we felt it necessary to have a good few sheltered lunch stops before grabbing the summit of Craiglee.
After carrying the rope for a second day I was determined to have some practice using it, so we wrapped up warm and I set up a couple of lower-offs from some natural anchors and body-belayed Jessica down some short rock steps, before abseiling down myself,using either “classic” or “south African” abseiling methods. This was good practice and thanks to Jessica for braving the cold.
The wind was now very strong: it was time to head back to the van…. “Let’s head to the Southern Upland Way path! Easy!” ….. There was no path, just a series of old posts, some of which were not even standing, and would be a real route finding challenge in poor visibility.
So given the rough terrain and the strong winds slowing us down, it turned out to be quite a long day: almost 8 hours, but a very nice one. It is always good to go off the beaten track and find a wee gem. Thank you Glentrool.”