Ten members moved on from the originally planned meeting place to park by Kirklaughlan having already requested permission of its owners, making sure we avoided the many ducks waddling their way around the entrance. This was the first time we had walked as a group along this section of the west side of the South Rhins of Galloway.
We set off down a wide, hard farm track towards the coastline, down to where we saw two concrete walls – maybe old silage sidings? We saw little evidence of the fort which was mentioned on the map as we turned northwards, crossing a field to its further corner, spying a couple of deer speeding away ahead of us. Having got under one fence, crossed over a slightly boggy area and climbed over another low fence, we followed the edge of a field before climbing back over the same fence.
From there we started to follow a deer track over the headland before coming to open ground, and began to get more views of the cliffs below us. Having rounded Kirkienausk, some of us tried to find any signs of the Castle of Kirkienausk, without success.
Skirting gorse bushes, we followed the deer track again until there was a steep dip downwards before we had a scramble up the rockier opposite side - negotiated well by us all, and we reached the lower slopes of Craigwoughey Hill at noon.
A perfect, rocky outcrop proved to be a perfect lunch spot for us and we sat enjoying the sunshine for a short while before heading onwards again.
After a short walk around the base of the hill we passed through a kissing gate and followed the overgrown track upwards to the next gate, bringing us onto the Knockinaam Lodge Hotel road. We did not go down to Port of Spittal Bay, turning off the road to follow the extremely steep track which climbed up through scrubby woodland, pausing often to catch our breath. The track wound around the cliffs above Morroch Bay and meandered gently over moorland towards Portpatrick. We were delighted to see another member of our group who had walked from Portpatrick to meet us. Sharp eyes spotted various orchids, wild geranium and Scabious as we neared the bridge over Craigoch Burn, Dunskey Castle dominating our view long before we reached it.
Having crossed the bridge we had a long trudge upwards, making our way through tall red campion, Dunskey Caravan Park on our right, steep cliffs to the left. Our pathway then took us between swathes of white flowering angelica as we approached the castle.
Many people had made the climb from Portpatrick to visit it and we met many more as we made our way to the finish of our walk, not stopping to count the steps as we descended into this popular holiday village. While we were enjoying the sunshine and refreshments outside the Crown Hotel we were joined by other Wigtownshire Ramblers who had been unable to walk with us today.
Next Saturday’s walk is a moderate, circular one from Balcarry Bay. Meet for car sharing at the Breastworks at 8.15am, the Riverside at 8.45am or the car park at Balcarry Bay (NX 820 495). If going straight to the walk or joining with us for the first time, please phone the walk leader on 01557 815287 for further information.