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Rickwood House Hotel

Rickwood House Hotel

Heugh Road · Portpatrick · Wigtownshire · Dumfries & Galloway · Scotland · DG9 8TD

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Portpatrick – Walks in and around the village

  • Dunskey Castle Walk
  • Dunskey Glen Walks
  • Killantringan Lighthouse
  • Knockinaam Lodge Round
  • Southern Upland Way to Stranraer from Portpatrick

Dunskey Castle Walk

Portpatrick’s Dunskey Castle is a spectacular 16th century ruin set in a stunning cliff top location.The walk passes Portpatrick Harbour and is a relatively easy walk.

From our garden gate, go down Braefield Road. At the end of the grounds of Fernhill Hotel, descend some steps (romantically known as Lovers Lane) which quickly take you to the putting green and harbour.

Walk along the sea front towards the Old Lighthouse (Lighthouse Pottery). Just past the car park there is a flight of about 100 steps taking you up the cliff (signposted Dunskey Castle & Morroch Bay). There is a seat at a vantage point about half way up the steps where you can draw breath. Enjoy the outlook over Portpatrick Harbour to the iconic Portpatrick Hotel which dominates the clifftop opposite.

View of Portpatrick from Dunskey Castle Walk

View of Portpatrick from Dunskey Castle Walk

Once you are at the top of the steps the path leads over a bridge (Taylor’s Peak Bridge) which crosses a ravine but don’t worry – it is a sturdy bridge which was completely renewed a year or two ago! The cliff scenery is spectacular here with nesting seabirds down below.

The path follows above a railway cutting and carries on to the spectacular ruin of Dunskey Castle. Porpoises can sometimes be seen from the cliff top. You can vary your return to Portpatrick by walking through the cutting where there is a path leading towards the Mount Stewart Hotel.

Dunskey Castle Ruins

Dunskey Castle Ruins near Portpatrick

Either retrace your steps and enjoy the views of Portpatrick harbour or vary your walk by carrying on for a short distance to Castlebay Caravan Park, turning inland through the caravan park until the road is reached.

Turn left and follow the rd. for about 2/3 of a mile which brings you back into Portpatrick. After your walk, what better way to relax than a soak in our new outdoor hot tub!

Time: around one hour.

Killantringan Lighthouse

From our gate, turn right, past the Portpatrick Hotel and join the Southern Upland Way which runs between the golf course and the cliffs.

On your left, just before the former coastguard station, look out for the spectacular North Witch Rock which gets its name from it’s pointed shape and is a nesting place for seabirds. In the early summer, recently hatched seagull chicks can be spotted around here.

View of Killantringan Lighthouse from coastal path

View of Killantringan Lighthouse from coastal path

Looking inland at this point you will see the windfarm and, at certain times of the year, you may catch a glimpse of the many chimneys and roof of Dunskey House.

Continue alongside Dunskey Golf course and take a moment to pause and gaze at the view before descending to Sandeel Bay. A seal or two can often be seen on or near the rocks around the bay. This bay was extremely popular for bathing in the late 19th century. There is also a waterfall and a cave beside the path.

At the far end of Sandeel Bay the track leads to Laird’s Bay where a red and white striped pole marks the position of the first underwater telephone cable from Scotland to Northern Ireland laid in 1852. From here it is possible to detour inland to Dunskey Glen and Dunskey Gardens and this is covered in another walk.

After Laird’s Bay the path climbs steeply to regain the cliff top. Although it may look a bit daunting, there is a hand-rail on any tricky parts.

The path then continues and is fairly level across the headland. Soon you will get your first glimpse of Killantringan Lighthouse which was built around 1899. The name Killantringan is derived from Ringan or Ninian’s Cell. This is one of the few spots in Southern Scotland where both the Mull of Galloway and the Mull of Kintyre can be seen at the same time!

Just before the lighthouse, when the tide is out, the remains of the Craigantlet can be seen. This was a small cargo boat which ran aground on the rocks in 1982 on it’s way from Liverpool to Belfast. Unfortunately, the ship was carrying containers of industrial material — not whisky galore!!!

If time, energy and tide permit it is well worth scrambling over the rocks to Killantringan Beach where you can enjoy a great expanse of sand, explore the beach and wonder why it is so quiet!! Sometimes it feels as if you are on your own private beach.

You could retrace your steps to Portpatrick and enjoy the views once again. However, if you prefer a circular walk you can return on the roadside by following the road inland for about 1.25 miles, turn rt. at the junction and follow the rd.back to the A77 where you turn rt just before Portpatrick.

Time for return walk 2-3 hours.

Dunskey Glen Walks

At our garden gate, turn right along Heugh Road and follow the Southern Upland Way which runs between Irish Sea and Portpatrick (Dunskey) Golf Course.

The Southern Upland Way from Portpatrick to the East Coast is 212 miles long but we turn inland at the far end of the second bay just past the former cable hut/ coastal interpretation centre.

Before this however, from the first bay, Sandeel Bay or Port Mora, you may notice three small monuments on the cliff top above you. These can be viewed by detouring up the grassy path which heads inland at the far end of Sandeel Bay while the main path heads towards the sea and round the headland to the second bay known as Port Kale. Go through the double gates to view the monuments. The headland is known as Islay Knoll.

The monuments mark the site of a burial ground of the Orr-Ewing family and legend has it that the bodies are buried upright to afford them a sea view! Return to the land rover track and descend to the 2nd bay – Port Kale.

From the cable hut, head back inland up the land rover track and after about 60 paces fork left on a small grassy footpath which winds its way through the trees towards an area known as Fairy Glen. Coss a wooden bride and continue, looking out for a hairpin bend in the path at a further bridge. A faint path leads ahead at this point but take the sharp righthand turn at this point and head upwards towards an attractive stone bridge from which there is a view of a waterfall which is really spectacular (and loud) after heavy rain! Some of the trees here are as old as 200 years.

Soon after the bridge, go straight ahead and where path joins land-rover track,go left and head towards the home farm which has an interesting bell tower. There is an information hut near the farm buildings. The paths are for the main part marked by poles with white marks.

From the farm, the route to the gardens and tea room via the woodland walk is signposted.

The return walk can be varied by retracing the woodland walk to the land rover track then left then right to join the A77 near the junction of Heugh Road.

Information about Dunskey Gardens & Estate

The glen walks are open from early February until mid October.

Admission charges as at March 2016 are £5 for adults and £2 for children under 14.

No charge for walking in the glen.

The gardener holds a tour every Wednesday at 11.30am.

Tea Room is open 10am – 5pm.

The restored 19th century glasshouses contain a selection of exotic plants, shrubs and fruit.

The walled garden houses a wide variety of plants both familiar and unusual.

Dunskey is renowned for its snowdrops and holds a Snowdrop Festival each February.

The maze is a relatively new feature and is the first hedge maze planted in South West Scotland.

Knockinaam Lodge Round

From our garden gate, turn right as far as the Portpatrick Hotel where you can cut through the car park and join the cliff top path. Turn left onto the path and walk down a number of steps to the harbour-side.

While walking round the harbour, look out for the Black Guillemots.These little black and white sea birds, with blood red legs and gape, waddle about in a similar way to penguins. There are several nesting pairs to be seen in the harbour where they breed in holes in the harbour wall. Best time to see them is April – mid July although they are often there at other times of the year as well.

You may also like to make a small detour to look at an unusual plaque on the cliff near the archway at the outlet of the Dinvin Burn. This is in honour of the Portpatrick Lifeboatmen who fought to save the “Princess Victoria” which sank off Corsewall Point in January 1953.

Back to our walk, carry on along to the far end of the sea front and find another, longer flight of 120 or so steps at the far end of the village which climb to the top of the south cliff. There is a seat part way up the steps. The path crosses a bridge over a ravine then carries on past the ruins of Dunskey Castle (for more information, see the Dunskey Castle walk opposite).

Follow the coastline as it swings left and go through a gate into Castlebay Caravan Park. Although there is a path outside the park perimeter, it is easier to walk through the park itself keeping close to the fence parallel to the sea and at the far end, where there is a marker, a small path steeply descends a gully. Walk across a footbridge over the stream and regain the cliff top following the path. which has recently been repaired.

Once on the cliff top again, the path is fairly obvious and more or less level. There are often skylarks singing above and a peregrine falcon or two can sometimes be seen. Porpoises can also be seen now and then near the coast-line.

Looking back to Dunskey Castle

Looking back to Dunskey Castle

There have been some Belted Galloways in one of the fields recently. They seem harmless enough but the do tend to make the path muddy!

View from path to Morroch Bay with Mull of Galloway in distance

View from path to Morroch Bay with Mull of Galloway in distance

Eventually you will see the secluded Morroch Bay below you where there are two self catering cottages accessed by a very steep road.

You can either explore the bay or, follow the fence as it leads inland along the edge of the inlet above Knockinaam until, at the furthest inland point, a path leads down to the right and ends at the driveway to Knockinaam.

There is a public footpath to the right of the hotel`s grounds which leads to the beach where you can explore the rocks and marvel at the setting.

Knockinaam House Hotel welcomes walkers so why not pop in for a coffee. Guests have told us that Knockinaam serve delightful coffee and scones with jam and cream on the lawn with silver service for about £5.50 per head.

To return to Portpatrick, you can either retrace your steps or, for a bit of variety and easier terrain, you can walk along the road by turning sharp left about 100m after “Glen Cottage” at the end of Knockinaam’s driveway.

This road is all uphill at first but the views make it well worth the effort. It leads back into Portpatrick.

Allow at least 3 hours for the complete walk. It is possible to reduce the length of the walk by turning inland at the access track to Morroch Bay which takes you to the road mentioned above.

Southern Upland Way to Stranraer from Portpatrick

This walk is approximately 9 miles one way but the return to Portpatrick can be made by bus or taxi. Alternatively, and possibly a better option would be to take the bus into Stranraer and do the walk in reverse. If time permits, we are happy to take our guests to, or collect you from Stranraer if your walk doesn’t coincide with bus timings.

From our gate, turn right along Heugh Rd, past the Portpatrick Hotel and join the Southern Upland Way which runs between the golf course and the cliff edge. The first part of the walk follows the route to Killantringan Lighthouse which is fully described in that walk. This must be one of the few spots in Southern Scotland from where both the Mull of Kintyre and the Mull of Galloway can be seen.

At Killantringan Lighthouse, you may like to scramble down to the beach (if the tide permits) as it is an extremely beautiful and large expanse of sand which is usually virtually deserted and great for walking.

Walk on up the road leading inland from the lighthouse to the junction (about 1.25 miles) and turn left.

Take the first on the right and walk up a single-track road. After one mile, the rd. reaches its highest point and a junction. Join a track to the right which leads to two ruined buildings. Keep to the left of these.

Once past the buildings, aim for the cairn at the top of Mullach Hill. This is the highest point on the route and is a good viewpoint.

From the cairn, go right, and cross the fence by a stile. Beyond the stile, the route is marked by Southern Upland Way posts.

To the N.E. of Mullach Hill is Knockquhassen Reservoir where you walk through a boggy area following the posts.

Just below the eastern end of the reservoir, the path joins a rough road. This descends the valley of the Crailloch Burn between banks of fuschias then continues as a single track road into the valley of the Pillanton Burn.

Beyond the burn, go right at a T-junction then left at the next junction and continue straight on into Stranraer, leaving the Southern Upland Way.

Alternatively, you could stay on the Southern Upland way as far as Castle Kennedy as long as transport back to Portpatrick has been arranged.