My second day walking around The Machars, with a sunny hot day forecast and 90% of the walk being off-road. My B&B was in Port William where I intended to finish todays walk. I parked at the harbour and waited to catch the 8:20 #415 bus to Garlieston. At only £2.30 for a 50 minute bus ride it turned out to be excellent value for money.
I started walking in Garlieston and proceeded along Core Path #428 telling me that Portyerrock was 6 miles away. I continued along a woodland footpath along the shoreline and emerged at the small bay at Cruggleton. The tide was out, so I was able to walk across rocks, sand and seaweed to the far side. I entered Cruggleton woods and emerged soon after into the bright sunshine. Ahead I could see the whole coastline down to Cairn Head, some 7 miles away.
In a short time I came to the remains of Cruggleton castle, which dates back at least to the 12th century. Very little remains of the castle today and what is there is predominantly overgrown with vegetation. The path continues through a procession of small fields each with a style or kissing gate and hosting either sheep or cattle. Eventually i arrive at Portyerrock which is just a collection of a few house and old mill and walk about 300m along a lane before following another Core Path #355 for the remaining 2 miles to isle of Whithorn. Passing over the slight brow of Stein Head, I can look down on the small fishing village of Isle of Whithorn. The village is famous for the site of the St Ninians chapel, now in ruins, it still attracts Pilgrims and visitors alike.
I head along another 2 miles which would take me over Burrow Head, the most southerly point of The Machars. From Burrow Head I see the Isle of Mann, only 15 miles away and west towards the Mull of Galloway (the most southerly point in Scotland). I have now more or less rounded the Machars and will begin my journey in a north-westerly direction. I head through a small holiday park and continue along the coast.
I emerge at a small inlet called Port Castle Bay, the beach is empty albeit for a fisherman trying his luck. I walk past him and enquire if the path continues past St Ninians cave. He does not know. The core path I was on, shoots inland, but I wish to continue along the coastal route. I check out St. Ninians cave, which is nothing more than a small recess in which the saint prayed. There are numerous homemade crosses made from driftwood lying around. The outcrop that held the cave blocks my way, the cliffs are steep and would require good scrambling skills. I opt to go inland about 300m and pass through a small wood out into a field full of cattle.
I regain the coastline along the cliff top, with the huge difference being there is no longer a path to follow. I walk alongside fields of grass and barley. Its tough going especially when I come to a fence or wall. Eventually I spot on the map a track that descends down to the beach, I reach the track and drop down to a raised or storm beach, which has lots of vegetation and enormous amounts of flotsam/jetsam, ranging from beer barrels to council litter bins. It is obvious that this section of coastline receives few visitors.
The walking is generally easy over pebbles, cobbles and vegetation. After about 2.5 miles I realise that I must find a way back up the cliffs, as eventually the beach runs out. I soon spot a well-worn track leading up the cliff-side. I follow the track which runs parallel to coast until I can see the Golf Course at St. Medan. St Medan is a delightful little 9 hole course, which sits on a small spit of land with a prominent hill, The Lag, at its centre.
I drop down to the small road leading up from the golf course and visit a small memorial to Gavin Maxwell, who hailed from this area. The monument is of one of the his famous otters, although I did’nt recall a name. The view onwards is amazing, towards Barsalloch Point where I’m heading next. I walk across a small footpath which takes me into Monrieth. I am now on the A747 which will deliver me to Port William in about 3 miles. As ever, I keep a special watch out for traffic, which although light, passes me at high-speed.
I complete a very tough day in 8hrs.
NB: I also publish all my Scottish Blog entries on the excellent Scottish Hills website, I use the same narrative, but larger photos and a few extra ones. They can be found here:
Distance today = 23 miles
Total distance = 1947.5 miles