Portpatrick to Castle Kennedy

Portpatrick harbour

If, like me, you thought that the Southern Upland Way (SUW to its friends) was just a slog across bleak moorland covered in blanket conifers, then today’s walk from Portpatrick to Castle Kennedy would quickly change your mind.  This is a cracking walk through a rich variety of countryside on the Rhins of Galloway.

Jazz and Kev at start of SUW, Portpatrick

Today Jazz and I had Stuart for company so we could do a 2-car walk of a reasonable length. The start is at Portpatrick harbour. This is Galloway’s equivalent of Tobermory with its pastel-painted buildings around the pretty harbour. This place has everything: nice looking shops and pubs, attractive harbour, free parking, and one of the nicest public toilets I’ve had the pleasure to use with a friendly attendant keeping the place spotless (long may it continue, D&G).

First SUW sign

Jazz looking at Port Mora

Black Head lighthouse

The first section of the path is along the cliffs and coves heading towards Black Head lighthouse. This has great sea-views over to Northern Ireland and the cliffs were great with wild-flowers and nesting sea-birds.  The path winds its way up, down, and around the various inlets and headlands to arrive at the lighthouse with its old foghorns staring out to sea.  This made a good lunch-stop 1.

From the lighthouse the path turns inland, which was a pity because the coast further north looked great with huge deserted beaches.  We first cross Broad Moor (and another SUW kist – but we failed to find this one) and then wander along narrow country lanes to skirt around Stranraer.  These lanes were quiet (apart from all the warblers singing) and their verges were very colourful.  After crossing the main road we follow farm tracks and then a lovely woodland track that goes all the way to Castle Kennedy. There were a lot of summer migrants around and my first-ever Wall butterfly.

This was a stunning walk with lots of variety and lovely scenery. The only criticism would be having to walk on (albeit quiet) roads for half of it as this is hard on the feet.  I was particularly taken by Portpatrick and will be back here with the Missus for a holiday in the near future: it looks like a nice place to explore and have a beer watching the tide ebb and flow.

Next section of SUW: Castle Kennedy to Middle of Nowhere


  1. It’s not far into the walk but we started late due to a combination of long drive to get here and my mis-reading the map…
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