Wild Routes

From the Wig to the Mull

From the Wig to the Mull

A fascinating excursion through the Rhins of Galloway, at the western extremity of the region, this itinerary links Loch Ryan to the spectacular coastal scenery of the Mull of Galloway with unspoilt countryside, a beautiful harbour  and not a little history in between.   Depending on the time of year, the itinerary’s wildlife habitats include a sea loch and shingle roost for wildfowl and waders, a broadleaved woodland walk, pristine beaches with the prospect of seals and cliffs full of nesting seabirds.   

The tour runs from Wig Bay on the shores of Loch Ryan, just north of Stranraer, across the Rhins to Leswalt and then down through Portpatrick and finally to the Mull of Galloway – Scotland’s most southerly point – a total of about 37 miles – see map.   

However, the roads in this part of the region promote a leisurely pace of travel and, as there is so much to see and do along the way, why not make the trip the core of a short break in the area?

The Itinerary
From Stranraer head north on the A718, along the shore of Loch Ryan to Wig Bay.  There is a car park with an interpretation board at the southern end of the bay, on the outskirts of Kirkcolm, from which a broad track heads out to the obvious shingle spit known as ‘The Scar’. 

At high tide this is a great place to view wildfowl and wading birds such as Curlews, Oystercatchers, Turnstones and Golden Plover.   In winter, it is one of the few places in the region to view Pale-bellied Brent Geese, one of the six species of geese that visit Dumfries and Galloway in numbers.  The track continues along the shore and back through Kirkcolm to make a good circular walk.  Look for views of Ailsa Craig to the north, through the mouth of Loch Ryan.

Retrace your route halfway to Stranraer and take the A798 to Leswalt.  The walk to Aldouran Glen starts at the village hall / community centre in the middle of the village, from where it is signposted.  The community garden, wildlife ponds, all-ability paths and bird hide near the beginning of the walk are managed by the local community and host various species of garden birds, butterflies and dragonflies, pondlife and herbs. 

Aldouran Glen itself is a wooded river valley managed by the Woodland Trust.  From the community gardens the path runs for about a mile through lush green woodland, criss-crossing the burn and rising slowly to exit onto a farm road.  From here it returns downhill to Leswalt with good views over loch Ryan and a brief diversion back into the woods to see the grassy mound marking the spot of a former iron age hillfort.  Look out for woodland bird species, dippers and red squirrels.

From Leswalt, continue west along minor roads past Lochnaw with its atmospheric islands and then south to Portpatrick along the A738.   This coastal road offers several opportunities to turn off and discover remote headlands and stony coves, such as at Killantringan Bay, just north of Portpatrick, with its picturesque lighthouse and views across the Irish Sea to Belfast Lough and the Antrim coast. 

Portpatrick itself was developed in the eighteenth century as the main Scottish port for ferries and trade with Ireland, before the development of Stranraer due to the shelter afforded by Loch Ryan.  It still boasts an attractive harbour and smart seafront, which makes for pleasant strolling. 

Portpatrick is also the terminus for the Southern Upland Way, which descends into the village at the north end of the harbour, while another cliff walk leads from the southern end to the ruins of Dunskey Castle and onto Morroch Bay.  

The principal local attraction from a wildlife perspective, however, is the small colony of black guillemots which nest in the rocks and crevices of the harbour wall and can be easily spotted from the promenade in spring and summer.

From Portpatrick head east along the A77 and then southeast on the B7042 to Sandhead, on the opposite coast of the Rhins.  Kirkmadrine Church, just south of here and signposted from the A716, is a mysterious site, accessed through an avenue of beech trees, overlooking the sea and famous for the collection of early Christian stones which can be viewed through the glass front of the vault built onto its gable-end.

Further south, as the Rhins peninsula narrows, it doesn’t take long to return along the B7065 to the west coast at Port Logan.  When the tide is out the wide, sandy beach here is a great place to spot waders from the walls of the jetty that leads out to the old lighthouse while the sands themselves are host to shellfish and crabs. 

Continue through Port Logan on the B7065 to Kirkmaiden, a tiny village with an historic church.  Known as the ‘Kirk Covenant’ as it was built in the same year (1638) as the signing of the first Covenant in Edinburgh.  It also contains the ‘treacle’ Bible and original box pews.  Outside, in the churchyard, is a lighthouse-shaped memorial to the local men who worked as lighthouse keepers.

The beaches to the east of Kirkmaiden and especially at nearby Drummore are often host to seals, hauled up on the rocks near the shore.  From either Kirkmaiden or Drummore the route heads south to the Mull of Galloway along single track roads which eventually deteriorate into a thin ribbon of asphalt hemmed in by the sea.  

The road winds up, past the Gallie Craig Café, dramatically located on the cliff edge, to the car park from where paths lead through the nature reserve to the lighthouse and lighthouse cottages, the RSPB visitor centre and the cliffside walks that surround them which, together, form the Mull of Galloway Experience.  

This is a wild and airy spot at any time of year, enlivened in spring and early summer by the constant screams of the thousands of seabirds which nest on the rocks below.  There are views from the Mull south to the Isle of Man and east to the gannetries on the Scare Rocks with the Machars district behind them.  In the summer months there is also an opportunity to visit the  heritage museum in the lighthouse engine buildings and from here to climb the lighthouse itself.


Rickwood House

Portpatrick, midway between Corsewall  Point and the Mull of Galloway - an ideal base to explore the rugged coast of the Rhins Peninsula which abounds with seabirds.  Rickwood House is a family owned award- winning guest house with eco-friendly wood pellet heating.  Portpatrick Harbour is famed for its Black Guillemots

Tel: 01776 810270

Kirklauchline Cottage, Portpatrick

Kirklauchline Cottage, near Portpatrick, is the perfect place to get away from it all. A 150 year old Galloway crofter’s cottage beautifully appointed, comfortable and stylish. Set in a rural location with stunning sea views across to Ireland and the Mountains of Mourne. Sleeps 4 and pets are welcome.

Contact: David and Alison Smith

Tel: 07824 770968

Knockinaam Lodge

Sitting in its own cove with lawns running down to the sea, this exceptional 1869 shooting lodge is nothing short of glorious: a Michelin Star in the dining room, 150 malts in the bar, 10 gorgeously appointed bedrooms and a level of service you rarely find in such far-flung corners of the realm.

Tel: 01776 810471

Mull of Galloway

Mull of Galloway Cottages

The former lighthouse keepers' cottages at the Mull of Galloway are owned and run by the Mull of Galloway Community Trust.  

Kittiwake House

An ideal holiday destination for bird watchers, walkers and photographers. This cosy Cottage has 3 bedrooms, sleeping 6 people, spacious sitting room with dining area and multi-fuel burner, fully equipped kitchen and Bathroom with bath and shower cubicle. Pets are welcome.

Lightkeepers Cottage

This spacious cottage has 2 bedrooms, fully equipped kitchen, dining room, sitting room with sofa bed and bathroom with bath and shower. It accommodates 6 guests with amazing views across the Irish Sea towards the Isle of Man. Pets are welcome.

Puffin House

This spacious cottage has 3 bedrooms - one double, one twin and a room with bunk beds, fully equipped kitchen, sitting room with dining area and multi-fuel burner and bathroom with bath and shower cubicle. Amazing views from the cottage across the Irish Sea, ideal for bird watchers, walkers and photographers. Pets are welcome.

Tel: 01776 980090

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

Other Information

  • Public Transport

  • Visit the Stranraer to Ayr Line Supporters Association website for information about reaching the west of Dumfries and Galloway and special days out by rail.