From the calm of Loch Ryan to a lighthouse perched on a rocky promontory at Corsewall Point on this section you will experience the whole range of seascapes in one walk.
Loch Ryan is Scotland’s most southerly sea loch is a safe haven valued by seafarers throughout the ages by providing anchorage for fishing boats and trading vessels. The town of Stranraer, developed as a port for the short sea crossing between Scotland and Northern Ireland, and the ports at Cairnryan remain as a hub for ferries travelling backwards and forwards across the Irish Sea.
In good weather the volcanic plug of Ailsa Craig can be seen guarding the mouth of the loch. As you hug the shore of the loch you will pass tidal mud, sandy bays and sheltered waters that provide an ideal habitat for many water birds. Wig Bay is a popular place for bird watchers who gather at a small observation post, a relic of the flying boat base built during World War 2. Marvel at the skill of expert fishers as you watch graceful gannets plunge out of the sky and into the foaming sea at speeds of up to 60mph.
watch graceful gannets plunge out of the sky
The route meanders through the village of Kirkcolm (pronounced Kir-cum) and Corsewall Estate to rejoin the shore and eventually reach the windswept northern tip of the peninsula. Here you will see gannets, recognisable by their long wings with black tips they are one of Scotland’s most impressive seabirds. Nesting in their thousands on Ailsa Craig they are at their most spectacular as they dive into the waves. Follow the remote coastline and eventually you arrive at the lighthouse warning sailors of the dangerous rugged rocks.
Wig Bay Sands
A gentle circular walk round The Wig giving views across Loch Ryan to the ferry ports and north to Ailsa Craig. The Scar is a popular bird watching location and the sandy beach beyond it has an amazing variety of seashells. At low tide the more adventurous might want to explore the rocky shore further north where sandstone cliffs are perforated with interconnected caves.
Loch Ryan & North Coast
Winter Break or Summer Destination
Loch Ryan is notable for populations of over wintering birds including scaup, a diving duck, and pale bellied brent geese, a small dark coloured goose. Both birds fly the long journey to these sheltered waters to avoid severe winter weather in the Arctic.
In the summer nesting birds include the handsome, red-breasted merganser, a fish-eating duck with a spiky crest and serrated bill to help it hold on to slippery prey. Visiting terns nest on shingle banks and will be seen noisily diving for fish, while in late summer over a thousand moulting eider duck gather in the loch.
Loch Ryan is home to Scotland’s largest native oyster bed and is the regions only commercial oyster fishery. The oysters have been harvested by the Wallace family since 1701 when they were given the rights under a Royal Charter.
At Corsewall Point the exposed sedimentary rocks are made up of spectacular rounded boulders up to 1.5m across embedded in a matrix of cementing material. The boulders look like giant fruits in a massive pudding!
Your destination for this section is the
lighthouse on the northern tip of the Rhins.
Your destination for this section is the lighthouse on the northern tip of the Rhins. Built by famed Scottish engineer and lighthouse designer Robert Stevenson it was first lit in 1817. 200 years later this aid to navigation continues to flash every 5 seconds and can be seen from a distance 22 miles.
Automated in 1994 and monitored from the Northern Lighthouse Board’s offices in Edinburgh the former lightkeepers accommodation is now a hotel.
|OS Explorer Maps||309 Stranraer and The Rhinns|
310 Glenluce and Kirkcowan
|Distance||21.5 kms / 13.5 miles|
|Height Range||0 – 156m|
|Total Ascent||about 400m|
|Information Shelter||North end of Portpatrick Harbour|
|Supplies||A modest selection of shops in Portpatrick and one in Castle Kennedy.|
None on route.
|Public Transport||Trains and ferries to Stranraer. Buses from Stranraer to Portpatrick and Castle Kennedy. Taxis between Stranraer and Portpatrick.|
|Cycling||The section along the coast path is impassable to cyclists as it is very narrow. The rest of the section is suitable for mountain bikes.|