Scotland’s Secret South – Galloway Coast and Hills

There is a corner of Scotland that is ignored by the crowds rushing up to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Loch Lomond and the Highlands but after my recent photo trip I’m not complaining.  A visit to Dumfries and Galloway has been on my list for quite a while but like most others, I also have tended to carry on heading north when I reach the border at Gretna but not this time.  In the time I had allocated for this trip I, unfortunately, had to avoid the main towns and concentrate on two/three distinct areas – the Solway Coast, The Machars and The Rhins and time permitting a quick visit to the Galloway Forest Park.  With 200 miles of magnificent coastline including 3 National Scenic Areas to explore after turning west at Gretna, I followed the coast to my base for the first few days near Rockcliffe in the East Stewartry NSA where I managed to capture the image below after an early evening storm.
 

Rockcliffe Rainbow

On my first day, I travelled back to the Nith Estuary NSA to walk along the Solway shore from Powillimount to Carsethorn.  Fortunately, the tide was out allowing me to fully explore the shoreline and with caution the sands.  Care must be taken here as the tides are fast moving as I was to find out after returning to my starting point by the inland route.  The whole expanse of sands below, that a few hours ago I was casually wandering over looking for photo opportunities were now completely covered by the sea.
 

Powillimount

The following day I was less fortunate with the weather with heavy rain and winds I had to abandon my plans until early afternoon when I ventured out and was able to walk along the coast to Kippford and back although good photo opportunities were limited.  I managed to catch up with my plans on the final full day at my first base with a walk from Palnackie out along the Rough Firth coast towards Horse Isles Bay and White Port.  The first section of this walk showed how quiet it can be round here as the route I was following didn’t look as if it had been used for some time – machetes were needed !!  Due to the heavy rain the day before it was also very wet and eventually I ended up ankle deep in mud.  Luckily out of the woods the sun shone and I dried out fairly quickly and made it to my final destination but my boots would take a few days to dry.  The second half of the route was the complete opposite being mainly along rough tracks and roads.
 

Horse Isles Bay

I finished the day with a drive further along the coast to see Auchencairn Bay and had intended walking to Balcary Point and along the coast picking up Rascarrel Bay and Brock’s Holes but I ran out of time on this occasion.  Luckily I wasn’t too disappointed when presented with a wonderful view across the bay.
 

Auchencairn Bay

It seems that the weather was changing alternate days – well it was the west coast of Scotland and only to be expected so the next day didn’t provide many photo opportunities despite a walk from Brighouse Bay around to Dunrod and Borness Point.  Similar to my earlier walk to White Port the first section was like an obstacle course clambering over the substantial rocks along the shoreline. Eventually, after driving along the coast wherever possible and passing by other previously noted locations I arrived at my second base on The Machars.  From here I intended to take a trip over to The Rhins and The Mull of Galloway where I ventured to the following day.  Despite the weather forecast the morning seemed promising so off I went parking up at the lighthouse at the tip of The Rhins and set off to walk around The Mull of Galloway.  Shortly after I set off the rain started and being optimistic I carried on expecting it to clear up.  Well, that did not happen in fact it poured down continuously until 9 pm that evening.  Despite having waterproofs I was absolutely soaked even to the extent of water getting into my camera bag which also had a cover on.  So that was the end of that day and my boots despite starting to dry out were now wetter than ever.  Just to prove that I did go there the image below shows The Mull of Galloway and its lighthouse the following evening from my base on The Machars.
 

Mull of Galloway

My final full day in the area started off with a sea mist and looking very much as if the weather was going to repeat itself.  So it was time for a decision – do I stay on the coast or head inland to the Galloway Forest Park.  Not wanting another drowning I headed off to Loch Trool and within 15 mins the skies cleared and the sun appeared.  A loop of Glen Trool including passing the battle site where Robert the Bruce defeated the English in 1307 was most enjoyable and the whole route was on good stone packed paths and roads.
 

Loch Trool

Having been on the coast during the earlier part of the trip and finding the Galloway Forest the day before a nice change of scenery I used the return journey to take the opportunity to drive back through the Forest via Clatteringshaws Loch and on to the Raiders Road where I managed to find some eye-catching reflections at Stroan Loch to add to my Intimate Landscapes Collection and one of which you can see below.
 

Reed Reflections

Whilst changing weather conditions had caused some problems it was also a feature of this trip and provided a good variety of light which is what is needed for successful landscape photography.
Will I be back?  Yes almost certainly, I won’t be ignoring this area like I have in the past but don’t tell anyone else – let it remain Scotland’s Secret South.
 
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