National boost for Galloway’s hills

The hills of Galloway have been nationally boosted
The hills of Galloway have been nationally boosted

The profile of the Galloway Hills as a great all round walking destination has been further boosted this month with a major feature in one of Britain’s most popular walking magazines.

It gives the area front page billing, describing it as “Scotland’s secret wilderness”.

The April edition of Country Walking magazine, which enjoys a readership of over 100,000 across the UK, describes the area as “a walkers’ paradise of wide spaces, lofty peaks and forest trails with a tantalising history that reaches back a thousand years.”

It tells its readers that with the Cairngorms having had one of its snowiest winters for years, and snow still on the ground in many areas, this spring is a great time to discover Galloway Hills.

The seven page feature includes a route through the Awful Hand range, the area around the highest hill in Scotland south of the Highland line, The Merrick, at 843 metres. It adds: “Galloway is a land of distant history, mystery and myths and an exploration of its lochans and wilderness brings you closer to an essence of being than any other walk you can do.”

The Merrick walk also features in the magazine’s Britain’s best Walks section, alongside routes in the Lake District, Snowdonia and the Peak District.

The feature was written by Andy Margerison, chair of Galloway Mountain Rescue Team who was brought up on the fringes of the Lake District, but has lived in Galloway for the past four years. It has provided a boost to organisers of Newton Stewart Walking festival, which is taking place between 9th and 15th May.

Ken McCubbin of Galloway Mountain Rescue Team and Newton Stewart WalkFest Committee said: “This year we are offering no fewer than four opportunities for walkers to reach the summit of Merrick. Our most challenging walk of the festival is a 24 kilometre (15 mile) route which incorporates 2,000 metres of ascent and takes in three of Galloway’s Corbetts - Corserine, Shalloch on Minnoch as well as The Merrick itself. Another of the Merrick’s walks, also described as very strenuous explores the area around Merrick and Loch Enoch in the heart of the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Unesco Biosphere Reserve. This route has an arts theme as it explores the area where a representation of the constellation Ursa Major (the plough) has been incorporated into the rocks. A third challenging route approaches The Merrick from the east via the granite mass of Mullwhachar and the steep Redstone Rig. Completing this will provide a real sense of achievement.”

Ken added: “For those looking for a slightly easier route to the top of The Merrick, which nevertheless still provides a big day out in the hills, our route entitled ‘A couple of Knuckles: the Awfu Hand Range’ provides some super views as we walk from Kirriereoch to Bruce Stone on the banks of Loch Trool.

Newton Stewart Walking festival will run from Friday 9th to Thursday 15th May and will feature more than 30 guided walks and other events. The full festival programme is available at and in a brochure widely available in various outlets. Bookings can be made via the festival website, by calling the festival booking office on 01671 404500, or by calling in personally to the WRDC Business Centre in Queen Street, Newton Stewart.