Day 145: Kirkinner to Port William
Distance: 29.3 miles
Ascent: 2085 feet
Weather: Sunny Very hot
Accommodation: Camping Port William
I thought it might be a long day, and also due to the sun I set of early. After a short amount of lane walking I took a farm track across some fields to Culscadden Farm where after walking through the farm I re-joined a lane. Just after this there was a core path that hugged the coast all the way to Garlieston. This path was a lovely wooded path, which was great in this warm weather and as I rounded Eggerness Point there were nice views across to the small village of Garlieston.
I had hoped to grab a tea in Garlieston but the pub was not yet open, even though it did actually do breakfasts but ‘by booking only’ so I decided to carry on. The next part was on a core path that would hug the coast for the 8 miles or so to Isle of Whithorn. This stretch was lovely, the first part was flat and on a wide path to Rigg Bay. After this it climbed up onto the cliffs and through farming fields. An impressive stone arch the remains of an old castle (Cruggleton Castle), which had been restored stood proudly right on the edge of one of the cliffs. Suddenly the signs on some of the gates into the fields got quite aggressive ‘all persons pass this point at their own risk, BEWARE OF DANGEROUS COWS’ and it culminated in one saying ‘No Entry, Calving in Progress, DANGER’. On the face of it this sign may not seem to bad but the only option would be to head back the 3.5 miles I had already covered on the path and so I just carried on anyway as I presume the farmer can’t just decide to block the path when he wants and in fact even more stupidly there were no livestock in the specific field anyway. Safe to say I had no incidents and actually this path was very scenic.
I finally reached the Isle of Whithorn which as per Garlieston earlier was very pretty with a little harbour and scenic surroundings. I finally got my tea and also some lunch, in fact the St Ninian’s Tearoom also very kindly gave me a goody bag of stuff to take away with me as well.
The sun was strong but at least there was nice breeze and the next stage following the core path was very reminiscent of the South West Coast Path with the path winding up and down and in and out as it followed the cliffs. In fact this was one of the most vertiginous paths I have been on with the narrow path literally inches from the edge at places. I really enjoyed this section with the stunning scenery and the beautiful flora (pinks, yellows and blues) adorning the path.
Near St Ninian’s Cave the path dropped down to the pebbly beach. St Ninian’s Cave itself was not overly exciting but was made to feel quite spooky with the various wooden crosses people had attached to the cliffs next to it. The path actually reclimbed to the top of the cliffs here but I though I had seen a flat lower level around the headland so decided to do a rock scramble along the bottom instead. I knew this was a risk as I may have to return if no way up the cliff around headland but having seen what I’d seen from the cliff and also looking at the map it looked like a calculated risk. The actual boulder scrabble was quite easy and half way round I knew I was fine when I saw a family in the next bay. In fact, when I got to them they were roasting marshmallows over an open fire and I asked them whether I could continue along the bottom of the cliffs, and the man said I could and if tide low enough I could get all the way to Monreith but if tide had come in a bit I would be able to take cattle trails up the cliff just shy of Monreith. After having been given a penguin bar I was on my way.
There was a track for a little way, before it became pebble walking and then all of a sudden barb wire stretched down the beach and I could not work out why. But it was easy to get around and on the other side I could see cowpats on the pebbles so could guess what the barb wire was for. Then slightly disgustingly there was a whole cow skeleton on the beach with nothing but bone remaining. I wondered when I would bump into these pebble dwelling cows and it was not much longer till I met them and fortunately there was no issue getting passed them. The tide had come in so just shy of Back Bay I had to do as I had been told and follow cattle trails up the cliff which was easy enough and I soon dropped down into Monreith passed the very impressive looking Saint Medan Golf Club.
This was where I was scheduled to stop and it was already almost 7pm, and I was tired but I was short of food and there were no shops or pub here so I made the decision to carry onto Port William a further 3 miles on. This walk was very simple along the flat road, and in fact was very atmospheric with the sun slowly descending in the sky.
I quickly pitched about 8pm and as the shop was shut grabbed some food in the little pub/restaurant just before they stopped serving.
A long day, a tiring day but very successful and there was lots of great scenery.