We didn`t have time to climb the Merrick this afternoon but fancied a walk in that area. From Newton Stewart, we had a lovely drive up to Glen Trool, passing the delightful Visitor Centre on the way to the car park at the road end near Bruce`s Stone.
Most visitors to this car park either walk the short distance to the spectacular viewpoint above Loch Trool at Bruce`s Stone or the more energetic take the “tourist” path up the Merrick – the highest mountain in South West Scotland.
However, our destination today was Loch Neldricken, a beautiful loch to the south east of the Merrick. It is never a good idea to start a walk with a descent. However the descent from the start point is short though quite steep and soon after crossing the Buchan Burn, a path is signposted on the left for Loch Valley and Gairland Burn. The path ascents quite steeply at first then more gradually as you approach Loch Valley above the western bank of the Gairland Burn. The burn is very pretty with a few small waterfalls. There are spectacular views looking back to Loch Trool from the path which improve as height is gained.
Once Loch Valley is reached the path proceeds above its western shore and onwards to Loch Neldricken. Loch Neldricken, although only two miles or so from the road, has a sense of total isolation and is bounded on three sides by hills – Ben Yellary, the Merrick, the unusually named Mullwarcher, Dungeon Hill and Craignaw. The loch has a very unusual shape and is an ideal place to sit and soak in the atmosphere and remoteness. The loch was very blue today as the sun was splitting the sky!
It is possible to carry on northwards to Loch Enoch then ascend the north eastern ridge of the Merrick from where the tourist path can be taken from the summit over Ben Yellary and down to the car park. however, due to lack of time we re-traced our footsteps via Loch Valley to our starting point.