Sunday, April 5, 2015

Loch Enoch

One of my favourite Scottish books is J McBain's The Merrick and the Neighbouring Hills (1929). His description of hikes in the interior of Galloway are fascinating; especially his visit to an unnamed island in the most remote loch in the country: Loch Enoch.

This unnamed island has its own little loch, and some say that the name 'Enoch' comes from 'Loch-in-loch'. Another, and more likely possibility, is that it is named after Teneu (St Enoch), the mother of St Mungo of Glasgow.

Arriving at Loch Enoch
I first wanted to visit this area after reading SR Crocket's novel The Raiders, as many scenes in the book take place in this remote country. But I never did anything about it until I after I read McBain's book. I was planning a stay in Girvan, in order to get out to Ailsa Craig, and I thought that a hike to Loch Enoch would make for a great day out if my plans to get to Ailsa were foiled (see chapter 2 of book 1). I did manage to do both: visit Ailsa and Loch Enoch, but I had to settle for seeing Enoch's little island from the shore. Most visitors will have to settle for the same view, because it is so remote that, as far as I know, no boat has ever been brought to the loch.

There are two usual routes to the loch; one is a six-mile trek from the south end of Loch Doon, the other (and the one I took) is a five-mile hike north from Loch Trool. From the Bruce Monument at Loch Trool I hiked a mile north to Culsharg bothy.

Culsharg Bothy
From Culsharg I followed the Buchan Burn north through forestry plantations and under the Rig of Loch Enoch. After bashing through some thick heather I reached the southwest corner of Loch Enoch. Rising across the loch was the brown hump of Mullwharchar, also know as Star Hill. 

Mullwharchar rises above the north shore of Enoch - in the foreground is the island
I had lunch on a small sandy beach looking over to the island. Oh how I wanted to set foot on it, but I was not in the mood for a cold swim. J M'Bain in The Merrick and the Neighbouring Hills describes how he got to the island by visiting it in the winter when the loch was frozen, and he was able to walk to the island. Maybe I'll come back in the winter sometime and try to follow in his icy footsteps.

The isle of Enoch - its own small loch can be seen to the right
From Loch Enoch I climbed Dungeon Hill and then returned to Loch Trool via the Murder Hole of Loch Neldricken. It was a great day on the hills, one I will remember forever.

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