I was recently invited to spend a free night in a Shepherd’s Hut in the beautiful Dumfries & Galloway countryside and how could I say no? Dumfries and Galloway is one of my favourite places in Scotland and is underrated and overlooked by many in my opinion.
See? I love it!
I’ve also never spent a night in a Shepherd’s hut. No Wi-Fi, patchy phone signal, a place to disconnect and unwind. It sounded great and I knew what I wanted to do before I came to stay.
Merrick is the highest mountain in the south of Scotland at 2,766ft it is the longest uninterrupted viewpoint in the UK due to it’s prominence in relation to the surround landscape. Views to Northern Ireland, England, the Isle of Man & Arran are all possible. As if that wasn’t enough, the walk starts in the beautiful Glen Trool, a long narrow glen with the lovely Loch Trool running through it. There is a visitor centre, a campsite and a selection of beautiful walks to enjoy for all abilities. Parking at the end of the glen (which is free) brings you to the start of the route for the ‘Merrick Trail’.
Before you begin, make sure to stroll across from the car park and see ‘Bruce’s Stane’, a wonderful stone with a carved inscription commemorating a victory in the glen by the Scots against an English force prior to the Battle of Bannockburn.
If you love history it is worth the drive just to see the stone.
Bruce’s Stane in Glen Trool
I have climbed Merrick once before but it was in blizzard conditions with absolutely no views. The weather forecast was for beautiful weather and it was not wrong. As soon as I got out of the car I put on some sunscreen: the sky was pure blue and it was very warm. I was already getting excited to see the summit views!
The Track With Merrick Above and Bothy Below
Looking Back Above the Treeline
From the carpark the track is easy to follow, passing a small bothy before climbing through woodland and emerging high above the glen below. The track will merge bring you to a small stone dyke and you will climb to the top of Benyellary which gives an amazing view of Merrick and down to Loch Neldricken and Loch Valley. From here, it is one last push along the ridge and up onto the summit of Merrick.
The views, on this beautiful day, were incredible.
Looking to the Summit
Views to Isle of Man & Northern Ireland
The Summit Cairn
The Summit Cairn On My Last Visit
Views North to Arran and Ailsa Craig
One of the Locals
The Shepherd’s Hut
Once I’d returned to the car, I headed north to the Creeside Escape Shepherd’s Hut where I’d be spending the night. After the exertions of climbing Merrick, I was looking forward to a relaxing night (and a big bowl of soup!).
The hut is just 4 miles north of Bargrennan or 5 miles east of Barrhill, so the drive didn’t take long and before I knew it I was pulling into the snug parking area for the hut, with a cute sign attached to the fence.
The Little Parking Zone Across the Hump-Back Bridge
From the road I could see the hut in the field and I was getting my hopes up! There were no buildings around it and it was perched at the edge of large field, overlooking the river Cree with sprawling views to Merrick itself.
The Charming Hut
I just love the traditional look of the hut! The little windows, the door, the wooden steps & the cute roof. I even loved the wheels. The key to the hut was waiting in the door for me, what would the interior be like?
My Home For The Night
The Gorgeous Interior
The first thing that hit me when I entered wasn’t what I saw but what I smelled. Wood. A beautiful smell of the wooden interior! The bed, the floor, the wood panelling all combines and not only does it create a wonderfully homely atmosphere but the smell is gorgeous.
The hut has no Wi-Fi or shower but you are well provided for. There is a small stove to cook on, a lovely (and very warm) fire to light to keep warm and a very cosy double bed! A variety of books and board games line the shelf above the bed, crockery and utensils are all provided and thoughtfully laid out. On arrival, there was a hand-written greeting card awaiting me, along with an information booklet on the working farm on which the hut is situated, and on the surrounding area.
The interior of the hut is a credit to Sarah, the owner.
After taking what felt like a million pictures of the hut I settled in to relax. I had some soup and sat outside, listening to the birds singing in the evening sun. When darkness eventually fell I lit the fire and cosied up under the blankets with a book. In the morning, I awoke to the sound of house martins outside and bright morning sun streaming through the windows.
I think the little sad feeling I had when I locked the door and slowly headed to the car said it all.
The hut is well worth a visit. Either by itself or as a base to explore the beautiful countryside in which it sits, whether that be for fishing or walking. (Don’t forget to visit the nearby villages of Newton Stewart and Barrhill too!)
Shepherd’s Hut Information
Typical Fee: £60 per night