On the south-western tip of Dumfries and Galloway in southern Scotland, a series of spectacular cliffs overlooks the Irish Sea.
Snuggled into this idyllic coastline, about a mile north of Portpatrick, are the twin coves of Port Mora and Port Kale. Without vehicle access to the beaches, the only traffic you’re likely to encounter here is the distant glimpse of a ferry sailing between Cairnryan and Larne in Northern Ireland.
European roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) female with three fawns in grassland at forest’s edge in summer © Getty Images
Ports of call
Although the two coves are close together, separated only by a rocky outcrop, there is a stark contrast between the rugged, pebbly shore of Port Kale and the gently sloping sands of Port Mora. In summer, Port Mora is the perfect beach to brave the water for a cooling paddle or even a refreshing swim.
Reaching the coves along the coastal footpath is a real pleasure, whether you approach along the clifftops from Portpatrick (about 1.5km to the south) or via Killantringa Lighthouse from the car park at Killantringan Bay (about 2.5km to the north). Both these routes follow the Southern Upland Way along a clifftop track, offering superb views along this dramatic and beautiful section of coast.
In the bay, grey seals can be spotted taking advantage of the sheltered waters and, if you head a short distance inland along Dunskey Glen, you may catch a sighting of roe deer in the woodland. Even the stony path leading down into Port Mora, which may seem a harsh environment in which to live, provides the perfect site for bloody cranesbill, a magenta wildflower perfectly at home on the rocky slopes of the southern Scottish coast.
Grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) mum and her newly born pup lying on the beach ©Getty
Strange as it may seem, history was made in this unassuming area of natural beauty. In 1852, the first submarine telephone cable between Scotland and Ireland was laid between Port Kale and Donaghadee on the Irish coast, some 27 miles away. The old cable house, a strange hexagonal building, still stands on the edge of the cove.
Port Mora and Port Kale may require a bit of effort to reach, but the secluded tranquillity of the bay and its surroundings makes it well worthwhile.