The Rhins of Galloway

The Rhins of Galloway sits just a little off the well beaten track of southwest Scotland and is hugely under-rated - it is known by some as Scotland’s Forgotten Corner. However it encompasses some of the finest scenery to be found in the British Isles and an array of wildlife that will take your breath away

The word Rhins comes from the Gaelic Na Rannaibh, which means points or headlands and the area is defined by Milleur Point to the north and the Mull of Galloway, Scotland’s southernmost point.

The northern margins of The Rhins are flanked by Loch Ryan, a sheltered body of water that is busy with the many ferries that move to and fro between Cairnryan and Belfast.

Sitting at the southern tip of Loch Ryan is Stranraer, the largest settlement in southwest Scotland, and the gateway to the Rhins of Galloway. The town’s origins date back around 500 years but it really developed when a harbour was built in the 1700s. For 150 years, from the 1860s, Stranraer was the main ferry port for Northern Ireland, until the service was moved to nearby Cairnryan in 2011. A little east of Stranraer is Castle Kennedy, which was built for John Kennedy, the Earl of Cassilis, in SPOTLIGHT ON SCOTLAND

1607 before being destroyed by fire in 1716. Today the castle is renowned for its gardens that were laid out in the 1730s.

Heading further south and a visit to idyllic Portpatrick is highly recommended. In the 1700s the village was the main port for landing cattle from Ireland, which were then driven to market in Dumfries. However by the 1860s Stranraer had become the area’s main port and Portpatrick began to establish itself as a popular holiday resort, something that continues to this day.

Portpatrick is also the start (or end) point of the 212-mile Southern Upland Way. One of the fi nest stretches of the route heads along dramatic cliff s to Killantringan Lighthouse. It commands a dramatic position above Portamaggie and was completed in 1900. In 1982 the 800-ton Craigantlet ran aground here with its cargo of hazardous chemicals after which the area was deemed unsafe for some time.

It is then onwards past Sandhead (home to the stunning Luce Sands) and Logan Botanic Gardens, which house an incredible display of tropical plants. Beyond Drummore - Scotland’s most southerly village - the road narrows for a spectacular final five miles to reach The Mull of Galloway.

Here the Gallie Craig, a rocky promontory that lies a little west of the Mull of Galloway Lighthouse, is Scotland’s southernmost point. The coastline here is incredibly rugged with the beautifully coloured cliff s rising steeply to over 200 feet and where a series of outstanding views extend to Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man.

The Mull of Galloway is an RSPB nature reserve and consequently the wildlife is superb; from tiny lichens that cling to the cliff s to basking sharks (the world’s second largest fi sh) that swim in the seas as well as puffins, fulmars, shags, razorbills, guillemots, wall brown and grayling butterflies.

The Mull of Galloway Lighthouse was built by Robert Stevenson. Work commenced in 1828 and was completed in 1830. Standing 26m high above the cliff s means the light itself is 99m (325 feet) above sea level and on a clear night can be seen from 28 miles away.

The Mull encapsulates everything The Rhins have to off er - spectacular scenery, incredible wildlife, fascinating history and room to breathe - and the area really is worth exploration. TC
Published: November 2017