Wild Routes

Curlew Coast

Curlew Coast

Where about the graves of the martyrs the whaups are crying, My heart remembers how!

(Robert Louis Stevenson, ‘The Whaups’)


There are fewer whaups (or curlews) along this coast now than in Stevenson’s time, possibly the result of a reduction in good nesting sites due to modern farming techniques, but its distinctive outline in flight, with its curved beak and its plaintive call, are amongst the most evocative sights and sounds of a visit to this part of Dumfries and Galloway.

The Curlew Coast itinerary stretches for about seven miles along the muddy banks of each of the north and south coasts of Wigtown Bay with a short diversion from Newton Stewart into the wooded uplands of the Cree Valley – see map.  The common factor linking a number of varied landscapes and wildlife sites is the wide and ever-present vista of mountains and moorland sweeping down to the estuary.

The itinerary can be covered in a long day but is worth enjoying more slowly, over two or three days.

The Itinerary

There is no better place to start this tour of Wigtown Bay than in Wigtown itself.

The Visitor Centre in the top floor of Wigtown Town Hall offers unparallelled views over the whole estuary and the majestic sweep of the Cairnsmore of Fleet behind.

Walk along the estuary, from the Martyr’s Stake to Wigtown Harbour, for a close up view of the salt-marsh (or merse) habitat.

Wigtown Harbour looks over the muddy banks of the Bladnoch to the Crook of Baldoon, a new RSPB reserve which can be accessed 4 miles south of Wigtown, along a potholed track.  It presents the opportunity for another walk over marshland grazed by thousands of migrant geese from late autumn to early spring.

Just north of Wigtown, on the road back to Newton Stewart, is the Scottish Wildlife Trust site of Carsegowan Moss a good example of the peatland bog which once covered much of the Solway coastal fringe. Difficult walking is rewarded in summer by carpets of wildflowers and species of bog plants as well as the chance to spot adders, lizards or birds of prey.

From Creebridge in the centre of Newton Stewart, a minor and increasingly narrow road hugs the east bank of the Cree for about 9 miles, as far as the Bridge of Minnoch, linking a series of wildlife rich woodland, including the RSPB’s Wood of Cree and other sites managed by Cree Valley Community Woodlands. From the RSPB’s Woodland car park a short trail leads along the banks of the Cree to an otter viewing platform.

Return to Newton Stewart and head east, along the A75, to Creetown. On the eastern edge of the town, past Kirkmabreck Church, the community-managed Balloch Woods boasts a series of linked trails through mixed woodland, providing the opportunity to spot red squirrels, Roe Deer and a variety of birdlife. An all-ability trail winds round the former curling ponds in the centre of the woods which also include a number of significant art installations.

For a close up view of local wildlife, Creetown Heritage Museum provides CCTV and video images of Peregrine Falcons nesting locally and red squirrels at a feeding station within Balloch Woods.


Newton Stewart

Garlies Lodge

Situated in a peaceful location within the Galloway Forest Park, one of the Dark Sky parks, this 100 year old former hunting lodge has a large living/dining room with well-equipped kitchen area and wood-burning stove. There are two double bedrooms; one with en-suite bathroom. Three twin bedrooms, two with french doors to verandah; one with en-suite bathroom with over-bath shower. Two shower rooms with toilet.

Contact: Karen McMeikan, Garlies Lodge, Glentrool, Newton Stewart

Tel: 01387 711 379


Brora Lodge, Wigtown

Brora Lodge is a comfortable, modern, 4 Star Bed and Breakfast residence located in the historic town of Wigtown.  Feel at home in this luxury base to explore the many sights and attractions of the Galloway area such as Wigtown Bay, the UK's largest local nature reserve, the RSPB nature reserve at Crook of Baldoon or nearby Galloway Forest Park - home to the UK's first Dark Sky Park which hosts many wonderful scenic places to see and wander in splendid natural beauty.  You'll be pleased to know that we are in a Midge free zone!

Tel: 01988 402 577

Look for local nature-based events and walks to enhance the enjoyment of your stay by clicking here.

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