Rating out of 5: 4
Source: mixed sources, up The Merrick from Walkhighlands; down to the Grey Man, free route
To finally climb all the way up to The Merrick, I had to try twice. The first time being swept of before even reaching the top of Benyellary, it being winter there is no wonder that the rain and the heavy winds brought us to our knees and had us turn back.
However, the second attempt was a way better one, one that also showed how quickly the scenery can change, especially if humans are involved. After crossing the track, when we first attempted it in winter 2021 there was a wood greeting us right after leaving the track. When we attempted it again in July 2023, all the wood was gone, cut down. Most likely this step was taken at least partly because of the wind break from storm Arwen.
Once we got past the point, we first had to turn around at in 2021 the excitement for the new was unbreakable, having planned to camp somewhere on the top of behind The Merrick as well it was quite exciting in general. And what can I say, we weren’t disappointed in the slightest way. One amazing view followed the next and the bit past the top of Benyellary, which had worried me cause of the ridge walk mentioned in the route description and my fear of heights, was absolutely stunning, with the most beautiful views over the Galloway Forestry Park and the surrounding peaks.
Just a relaxed climb later you can easily reach the top of The Merrick, with wide reaching views as far as Alisa Craig and the Isle of Arran, you can clearly see that this is the highest peak in the surrounding area.
From the top onwards it was a bit tricky for us, with high wind speed we couldn’t stay on the top but had to head at least a bit downhill, on which way we got caught up in the rain before finally finding a spot even and dry enough to pitch the tent.
We weren’t heading down the same way again but were aiming for the Grey Man of The Merrick, often missed by people taking the more popular route down past Loch Enoch, from which you won’t be able to see the Grey Man. Originally I wanted to take the path past Loch Enoch and the Murder Hole as well but I gave in to give a friend of mine his wish to see a spot that was special to his Papa.
And so, the next morning we took the less well travelled path further down and instead of heading down towards Loch Enoch we were heading towards the small mountain ridge which you can see all the way down, constantly keeping an eye to the right to spot the Grey Man, easily missed by many.
After spotting the Grey Man there are about three options onwards (although the first I will mention, I didn’t think of until now).
1. Head back towards Loch Enoch and take the trail past the Murder Hole
2. Head up onto the Rig of Loch Enoch and follow the path on top of it towards Buchan Hill before returning to the car park.
3. Follow the path along the burn, crossing it on a certain point before reaching the track you crossed earlier, following it back to the Bothy and then retracing your steps towards the car park (after a very wet night, that was the way we chose)
The very faint path along the burn was more than just wet and easily missed in places but it offered some picturesque views up the glen and up the side of The Merrick, offering a whole different side of everything. Around this area if you keep your eyes open you might be able to spot some deer.
All in all, the walk was very lovely and something I always knew I had to try again and not give up till I finally made it up to the top. Bit wet underfoot, which is no wonder, and the last bit past the Bothy (with the path we choose) being the absolute same (which by now I did 4 times and as you know I don’t even like doing them twice), but the route still does deserve lovely 4 stars and should be done if possible.