Range of the Awful Hand

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Kirriereoch Hill and Merrick from Shalloch on Minnoch (N)
Tarfessock and Shalloch on Minnoch from Kirriereoch Hill (S)

The Range of the Awful Hand is a range of hills in the Galloway Hills range, part of the Southern Uplands of Scotland. The most westerly of three parallel ridges, the range is neighboured to the east by the Dungeon Hills and the Rhinns of Kells. The Minnigaff Hills also lie southeast. In total, these four ranges are part of the Galloway Forest Park. The ridge is split between South Ayrshire and Dumfries and Galloway.


The hills are named due to their resemblance to the fingers of a hand. They are the highest of the Galloway Hills and the Southern Uplands with the highest hill, Merrick, reaching 843 m. There is a considerable (approx. 56 m) difference in height between Merrick and the next highest hill, Kirriereoch Hill; as a result there are a number of hill ranges in the Southern Uplands which would otherwise be higher. The terrain is a mix of both ranges to the east in that the higher, flatter ground is on short grass but the slopes and cols are craggy and occasionally boggy. A number of smaller hills dot the broader, northern side of the ridge as it does not terminate as definitively as the neighbouring ridges.

Ignoring all satellite ridges, from north to south the main hills are:

Summit Height (m) Listing[1]
Shiel Hill 508 Tu,5,DDew[2]
Craigmasheenie 539 Tu,5,DDew[3]
Caerloch Dhu 659.5 Tu,Sim,DT,GT,DN[4]
Shalloch on Minnoch 774.2 Ma,Hu,Tu,Sim, C, D,DN,Y[5]
Tarfessock 696.4 Tu,Sim, D,GT,DN[6]
Tarfessock South Top 620 DT, sSim[7]
Kirriereoch Hill 786.8 Ma,Hu,Tu,Sim, D,CT,DN,Y,xC[8]
Merrick 843 Ma,Hu,Tu,Sim, C, D,CoH,CoU,CoA,DN,Y,T100,P600,P500[9]
Benyellary 719 Tu,Sim,DT,GT,DN[10]
Bennan 562 -
Fell of Eschoncan 348 -


The range forms part of the Silver Flowe-Merrick Kells Biosphere Reserve, which incorporates a considerable portion of both ranges to the west and east, and is a Natura 2000 site.[11] The area is very popular with invertebrates and swarms of Odonata, Syrphidae and Lepidoptera during summer are common.


The range has a more easily understood name than the adjacent two eastwards and has a more pronounced Scottish Gaelic origin, such as in 'Kirriereoch Hill': ceathramh riabhach (hill of the brindled quarter), 'Merrick': meurag (finger) and 'Benyellary': beinn iolaire (hill of the eagle).[12] The northern hills are more obscure; 'Caerloch Dhu' may derive from the Welsh caer lloch and Scottish Gaelic dhubh (black fort of refuge)[13] and 'Shalloch on Minnoch' (referring to the Water of Minnoch to the west), where 'shalloch' derives from Scottish Gaelic sealghe (hunting) and 'minnoch' derives from meadhonach (middle), ultimately meaning 'hunting hill of the middle burn'.[14][15][16] The farm of the same name to the west may borrow from the name of the hill.


  1. ^ Chris Crocker. "Database of British and Irish Hills: user guide". Hills-database.co.uk. Retrieved 2020-04-23.
  2. ^ "Shiel Hill". Hill-bagging.co.uk. Retrieved 2020-04-23.
  3. ^ "Craigmasheenie". Hill-bagging.co.uk. Retrieved 2020-04-23.
  4. ^ "Caerloch Dhu [Shalloch on Minnoch North Top]". Hill-bagging.co.uk. Retrieved 2020-04-23.
  5. ^ "Shalloch on Minnoch". Hill-bagging.co.uk. Retrieved 2020-04-23.
  6. ^ "Tarfessock". Hill-bagging.co.uk. Retrieved 2020-04-23.
  7. ^ "Tarfessock South Top". Hill-bagging.co.uk. Retrieved 2020-04-23.
  8. ^ "Kirriereoch Hill". Hill-bagging.co.uk. Retrieved 2020-04-23.
  9. ^ "Merrick". Hill-bagging.co.uk. Retrieved 2020-04-23.
  10. ^ "Benyellary". Hill-bagging.co.uk. Retrieved 2020-04-23.
  11. ^ "EUNIS -Site factsheet for Merrick Kells". Eunis.eea.europa.eu. 2019-04-22. Retrieved 2020-04-23.
  12. ^ "Scottish Place-Name News" (PDF). Spns.org.uk. 2015. Retrieved 3 November 2021.
  13. ^ "The Celtic magazine. A monthly periodical devoted to the literature, history, antiquities, folk lore, traditions ... of the Celt at home and abroad, etc" (PDF). Digital.nls.uk. Retrieved 2020-04-23.
  14. ^ [1][dead link]
  15. ^ "Index of elements" (PDF). Spns.org.uk. Retrieved 2020-04-23.
  16. ^ CallieLamkin (1893). "The hereditary sheriffs of Galloway ; their "forebears" and friends, their courts and customs of their times, with notes of the early history, ecclesiastical legends, the baronage and place-names of the province : Agnew, Andrew, Sir, 8th bart., 1818-1892 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming". Archive.org. Retrieved 2020-04-23.