The Merrick – Mullwarchar – Dungeon Hill – Craignaw
The weekend forecast after our hill holidays looked pretty grim right across Scotland, but Ally and I were desperate to get out again after such a good week. The only window of opportunity was southern Scotland which had a pretty decent forecast – the rest of the country was torrential rain, weather warnings and high winds. However, this presented an opportunity to go to Galloway. We had never been to any of the Galloway hills before and in fact we had only been to this area once before, to the excellent Wigtown book festival.
I was in Ullapool for a few days for the book festival so it was a great opportunity to cram in some hills in between the book talks. The Friday was a stunner of a day, and so for me there was only one hill on my mind – Stac Pollaidh. I could not believe that despite being up here many times, I had still never climbed it. There were always higher hills or foul weather or other things on. Today was the perfect combination of a blue sky day with no wind, and was definitely the day.
I woke at the Ullapool campsite in the van at 5.45am, too excited to sleep at the prospect of climbing gorgeous hills on such a fine day. I drove north up the beautiful road, for once it was clear so I could see the landscape like a dream. The far northwest is astonishingly beautiful.
It’s been a quiet year so far for walking. Illness, holidays, family commitments and my job have meant I’ve not been able to get out but finally a free weekend came up recently. Not wanting to travel too far, Ally and I looked at the quicker local options and decided on a local Graham, Mona Gowan in Donside.
There are several routes up Mona Gowan but we went for the easiest – from the Strathdon side there is a track all the way up. Why we opted for this way I cannot remember – I don’t think we were particularly looking for an easy outing.
The weekend arrived before I knew it. Ally and I had loose plans to go away in the Bongo somewhere but the week itself at home was pretty wet and wild, and we had heard reports about white-outs in the Cairngorms very likely. But, come Friday evening, it seemed it was going to be lovely just about everywhere. With these sudden dark evenings, a long trip and getting set up in the dark in the van just isn’t too appealing. Being in Aberdeenshire means just about anywhere else is a looooong trip away. So we decided on somewhere closer to home.