This is a difficult walk in whatever point you start from and these particular Galloway Hills are an unforgiving bunch. Our route took us in from the car park at Kirriereoch, a good march into the hinterland on former forestry tracks, then out onto the great long whaleback of Kirriereoch Hill via a series of ever diminishing and deteriorating sheep paths. About 1800 feet up Kirriereoch a tremendous stone wall begins. The stones are enormous. We saw one which was the size of a small car. Story says the wall was meant to delineate the old Ayrshire - Galloway county border and the wall appears to be of some great age. After the superhuman effort put into its construction it is a pity so few people have ever seen it. After topping Kirriereoch Hill we took a steep descent following a much smaller wall which wound us down 1500 feet to the tiny lochan of Loch Twachtan (careful now!). Twachtan's population of trout have been completely isolated since the last Ice Age by a few steep waterfalls.
Time limits meant we only had twenty minutes to catch the allotted number of specimens for a Fishery Research Project we've been involved in for a number of years. We hit the fishy target at 19 minutes paused for breath, a five minute breather, a sandwich and some juice. Then with our work done we pressed on to the social part of the journey, we were going to visit on The Grey Man of Merrick.
Progress across the morass between Twachtan, Munshalloch and the Howe of The Cauldron was very slow. Legs plunged deep into peat bog and despite clinging to the winding stone wall for guidance, low cloud sometime erased all views, the weather closed in and at times we thought we were past the crag we wanted to see. But we needed to hit Loch Enoch first. Loch Enoch had its own distinctive and unique family of trout until the end of the 19th Century when Victorian-Era Acid Rain killed the loch (and many other Galloway Lochs). This loch was restocked over the latter half of the 20th Century and has recovered well.
After edging round the shining gravel shores of Enoch we hit another wall and struck off towards the Grey Man. After a few hundred yards we took the small path off to the right and our target drew into sight.
The Grey Man is a spectacular feature. It works from both sides and its scale is spectacular. Return took us down past Loch Neldricken and Loch Valley to Loch Trool and the second car. Oops did I mention you'd need to do a 2-car job to take this one in? You don't actually need to... but it is advisable. Good luck y'all!