Back in 2014 I visited what is sometimes know as Scotland’s Riveria and you can read all about it in Scotland’s Secret South – Galloway Coast and Hills. This is a follow up to that post travelling further west from the Scottish Riviera.
One of the locations I stopped at was the wonderfully picturesque Auchencairn Bay, a small sheltered bay with a rocky shoreline on the North Coast of the Solway Firth. In the distance you can see Hestan Island which is situated at the mouth of the Urr Estuary. Smuggling was rife in the coastal waters throughout the 18th century and Hestan was one of many sites used by smugglers to stow contraband, with its caves providing prime locations for hiding goods from the excisemen prior to distribution.
Further along the coast is the fishing village of Garlieston on the east coast of the peninsula known as The Machars. The word is derived from the Gaelic word Machair meaning low lying or level land, known as “links” on the east coast of Scotland. The port became an important import point for goods being brought into The Machars throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth century. During the Second World War the village became part of the “most secret” Mulberry Harbour project. A Mulberry harbour was a portable temporary harbour developed by the British in World War II to facilitate rapid offloading of cargo onto the beaches during the Allied invasion of Normandy.
Still on the Machars Is the lovely little village of Port William, a man stands and stares. The man is a bronze statue and he leans upon a wooden rail, with a flat cap on his head and his hands crossed, forever looking out on the ever-changing beauty of Luce Bay. The hills of the Rhins Peninsula can just be seen on the far shore and Ireland beyond them. The statue by Andrew Brown, was set up in 2005. Close by is a polished slab of granite which quotes W.H. Davies: “What is life if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare.”
The Machars is also the home of Monreith Bay and the ruins of Kirkmaiden church, one of the oldest churches in Scotland, and the resting place of many of the McCulloch and Maxwell family members, who owned the Monreith estate. Above the church and overlooking the bay is the bronze otter, sculpted by Penny Wheatley, standing as a memorial to Gavin Maxwell, the author of the famous book “Ring of Bright Water”, which was also made into a successful film. Gavin Maxwell was often seen exercising his tame otter, about which he wrote his book, on the beach below Kirkmaiden church, when he returned to the area.
Although most of my trip was following the coast, Galloway is not just about the coast and a couple of days I drove inland and walked in the Galloway Forest Park. I also drove the Raiders Road Forest Drive. Ten miles of winding along the banks of the Black Water of Dee and Loch Stroan between Mossdale and Clatteringshaws. For most of its length the Drive follows the course of an old drove road featured in “The Raiders” a romance by S. R. Crockett. I stopped for a break at a tranquil inlet of the Blackwater of Dee at Boddon’s Island.
I hope you find this further visit to this area of the country just as enjoyable as the first.