Parking up at the Bell Memorial carpark the heavens opened and the view over to Shalloch on Minoch, GM/SS-042 and the range of the awful hand (yes that really is it’s name) disappeared into the cloud, hmm that wasn’t in the plan. I don’t mind getting a bit wet now and again but I quite like being able to put my kit on and get at least 100m from the car before it happens so I opted to listen to some tunes for a while and see if it passed. Having just moved my home qth from St Helens to Glasgow I was itching to get out and play on the hills.
But the heavy shower passed and the hills started to reappear, “lets give it a try then” I decided. It’s an easy start, down a wide forestry road and pick up the track that leads down to Shalloch on Minnoch farm – abandoned and bricked up and it looks like it’s now used as a house for bats (well it has constructed holes in the brickwork). Around the farm and the nice track quickly changes into a single track path. Lots of tall wet reeds and I remembered from last time that there was more to come, so in an attempt to keep my trousers moderately dry waterproof trousers were deployed.
The path leads to a little bridge across the burn although perhaps the term bridge is a wee bit strong, it’s more like two metal girders spanning the burn maybe a couple of feet apart with the wooden remains of a bridge still hanging between them. I wasn’t trusting my weight on the wooden bits (they didn’t look like they’d hold much more than a few tins of beans) so a foot on each girder and edge my way across it was.
From here on the path is much more (in my experience) typical Galloway in that there are lots of tussocks, long grass and boggy bits and generally a distinct lack of a nice path. Follow the south bank of the Shalloch burn until the Shiel Rig burn enters it from your right. Turn right and following the Shiel Rig burn up through the forestry platation. A fair bit of hopping back and forth across the burn trying to pick the nicest (or least worst) line was involved until I finally emerged from the forest onto the open hillside. A few meters up the hillside I turned to take in the view and a RN SAR helicopter appeared from the direction of RNAS Gannet and headed off towards the Merrick.
From then on it was a steady climb up the grassy slopes to the summit, the trig point here isn’t actually at the highest point on the summit which is to the east of the summit plateau but the trig point does have a small circular stone shelter next to it which I opted to make use of as the wind although not to strong was a bit cool. The summit was in the cloud so I didn’t initially get much of a view although it did intermittently lift while I was sitting at the summit.
Sotabeam erected and a couple of CQ SOTA calls attracted the attention of Barry, MM0XFM in Bathgate who was the first of 9 stations worked in GM, GD & G, thanks to 2E0XSD for the spot. I then had a listen around and found G4UXH/P on Stoney Cove Pike, G/LD-018 for a welcome summit to summit.
Instead of descending by the same route I decided to head south to Tarfessock before descending via its western ridge, last time I’d been here I carried on south to Kirriereoch Hill before heading west but that left a rather long road march back to the car. Compass was used to get off the summit of Shalloch on Minnoch as the cloud was once again covering the large summit plateau when I was ready to leave. West from the summit of Tarfessock I eventually picked up a small track heading west which I followed until it dived of the south side of the ridge when I wanted to be to the north. This did mean leaving the relative nice-ness of the path for the general off path-ness of the hillside.
I made may way down to the Knochlach Burn and followed it over some rough ground back towards where it joined the Shalloch burn near the “bridge”.
Once I reached the Shalloch burn instead of opting to head up stream to the “bridge” I decided to head in the right direction (for me) downstream following a faint path and find a suitable place for a splash and dash across the river, although in the end there was more splashing than dashing, I rejoined the outward track just downstream from the Shalloch on Minnoch farm building from where it was just a wander back down the track to the car and back to Glasgow for the obligatory bonfire.