Walk: Mersehead, Dumfries and Galloway
This rugged clifftop walk from a pretty village to a beautiful beach is the jewel in the crown of the astonishing Galloway Coast.
The six miles between Kippford and Sandyhills passes through Rockcliffe, a gorgeous stretch of coast cared for by the National Trust for Scotland. The village has been a popular tourist destination since Victorian times.
Today, many visitors enjoy the stunning Mersehead coastline and Rough Island, an RSPB Nature Reserve, also a National Trust site. The views are remarkable, taking in a good portion of the Galloway Coast and the mountains of the Lake District. The exceptional range of flora and fauna includes roe deer, red squirrels, sparrowhawks, adders, bluebells and orchids.
Mersehead Sands walk
1. Woodland path
From Kippford Village Hall, follow the main road to its end, then turn left onto the Jubilee Path (named after Queen Victoria’s Jubilee of 1901). Climb this single-track road, which, after the last house, narrows to a lovely woodland path. Walk for approximately one mile to gain a single-track road and follow this into Rockcliffe. Turn left, take the pavement above the shore, then turn right onto a single-track road signposted for ‘The Merse and Castle Point’.
2. Castle point
Beyond the last house keep right along a path for Castle Point, hugging the coast. When the path splits again go right and, once over a shingly beach, pick up another path.
This soon veers left at a waymark to pass the grave of Joseph Nelson, who was a crew member of The Ann, which sank off the coast here in 1791. Go through a gate, climb to a field, turn right and follow its edge onto Castlehill Point and a panoramic view.
Take a short descent then stiff climb along the cliff edge, leading high above the coast. An excellent path heads east, underneath Barcloy Hill, and then descends around Gutcher’s Isle (nearby is The Elbe monument, a schooner that sank near here in 1866).
The sun sets over the Solway Firth/Credit: Getty
3. Lake District views
The path climbs sharply then descends into Port o’ Warren. After a gate, turn left, follow a single-track road to Portling then turn right onto a side road signposted for Sandhills. Just before reaching the shore bear left up steps, and climb a steep path past The Torrs, where there is a stunning view of the Lake District. The route then drops steeply, eventually descending three flights of steps to a fork. Turn left, then left at the next and follow the path over a footbridge onto Sandyhills beach.
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4. Take a bus home
Walk past a caravan site then leave the beach at a car park to reach the bus stop at the A710. There are several buses (372A) Monday to Saturday from Sandyhills to Kippford and a limited service on a Sunday.
Keith is a walker, writer and photographer with a particular interest in Scottish history and language. He lives in Glasgow and escapes to the countryside whenever he can.
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