I love being out in the hills. The scenery, the quiet, the wildlife…it’s one of the most effective methods of relaxation I know. Amongst the heather you’ll be hard-pressed to find concrete, car engines or any other distraction of modern society. So on a sunny Sunday in February, I headed for the smallest of Dumfries & Galloway’s Corbetts: Shalloch on Minnoch. At a mere (hah!) 2,543ft it is only barely a Corbett, making the grade by just 43ft, and I was really looking forward to a pleasant walk in the hills on a great day for walking and I was not disappointed!
With my faithful 4-legged companion in-tow, we hopped in the car and headed for the hills. Approaching from the south, we headed through the village of Newton Stewart and proceeded north on the A714. My plan was to park just before Stinchar Bridge and take on Shalloch from the north-west side. It is possible to bag this hill from a variety of routes, including a 15 mile trek from further south but remember, this was supposed to be a relaxing walk in the hills, so my route was a far more luxurious 6 miles.
Looking Towards Shalloch On Minnoch From the Car Park
The road itself was twisty, pot-holed and full of blind corners. The large layby at the side of the road was a welcome relief. It is just before the treeline at Stinchar Bridge and has plenty of space for a few cars. The weather by this point was becoming very promising: bright blue skies and barely a cloud in sight!
The walk really is simple…head for the summit. There is a faint track through the heather but you have to find it first. This means crossing the road and entering the heather…and almost immediately having to get across the small burn that is flowing through the heather. Sounds simple right? Well the burn was lined with snow and many of the rocks were lined with ice. “Great!” I thought to myself, “the summit is probably white and that’ll make for some great pictures.”. This, however, still hadn’t solved the problem of the burn.
And I am an expert on jumping burns.
I have fell into quite a few.
My crowning moment being a dip I took in the spectacular surroundings of Glen Coe, when my father & dog had successfully jumped a small burn and I had managed to jump IN rather than over.
Thankfully, this time water-wings would not be needed and after a bit of walking up and down to find a good jumping spot, I made it over. Much to the delight of Messi who had jumped the burn long before and, presumably sick of waiting, looked delighted that we would be on the summit some time that day.
That face: Thrilled
Once over the burn, the walk was a boggy stroll through the heather as the search for some type of track commenced. Thankfully it didn’t take too long to find a small track snaking through it and we were soon well on our way. Now, I know you may expect a greater level of detail than this and don’t worry, your pal Bry has you covered. Head for the tree.
No seriously. The tree.
See? The Tree.
The walk really is just a gentle-ish climb up to various sub-summits (Eldrick Hill to Shalloch to Caerloch Dhu) until you eventually reach the summit of Shalloch on Minnoch. Easy heather and very few rocks. So if you decide to climb this hill from the direction I have just remember one thing.
Head for the Tree
Now, I have been up many Munro’s and Corbett’s and I have yet to climb a single one I didn’t enjoy to some extent. This hill would be perfect as a beginner Corbett. However, if you are an experienced walker I really wouldn’t let it’s ‘small’ height put you off. I was soon to discover that on a good day, the views from Shalloch on Minnoch were wonderful.
Gaining Altitude and Looking North to Ayrshire
A Wee Picture Before Heading Higher
It wasn’t long after this that we hit the snowline and as we ascended further it only got deeper! This little, easy Corbett was becoming a very fun day out and I took probably my favourite picture of the day on the ascent.
Sunlight on the Slopes
The snow had frozen over and some crampons might have been helpful but the going really wasn’t that difficult and we were making good progress.
The Summit Cairn Appears (Not The True Summit)
The summit has two cairns so be sure to head away from this trig cairn eastwards where you will find a small cairn which marks the true summit. It’s easy to miss.
The True Summit
The Views Were Gorgeous
From the summit, you can see Ailsa Craig out at sea, you can see over to Merrick and northwards to Ayrshire. In all directions the views were stunning and a huge reward for such a short walk and relatively gentle climb. The feeling of being on that summit, with those views and the sun on my face, was exactly why I love being out in the hills.
It may not be the most dramatic of ascents but the summit of this little Corbett still made me feel alive.