Great Walks In & Around Portpatrick
Dunskey Castle Walk
Portpatrick`s Dunskey Castle is a spectacular 16th Century ruin in a stunning cliff-top location and makes for a relatively easy walk.
From our garden gate, go down Braefield Road, At the end of the grounds of Fernhill Hotel., descend some steps (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 and enjoy the outlook over Portpatrick harbour to the iconic Portpatrick Hotel which dominates the clifftop opposite.
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 seagulls 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.
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.
Looking inland at this point you will see our new 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 but although it may look a bit daunting, there is a stout 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 must be 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.
Portpatrick to Stranraer Walk
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 Kintryre 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 trun 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 crosss 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 ino the valley of the Pillanton Burn.
Beyond the burn, go right at a T-junction then left at the next junctionand 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 tranport back to Portpatrick has been arranged.