The weather at this time of year is a lottery: New Year’s Day was a total wash-out, but today is superb with a blue, cloudless sky and warm sunshine. It seems like we’ve picked the right day to do what the info board at Sandyhills calls the best coastal walk in Britain. Quite a boast: will it live up to it?
We start in Sandyhills and are heading for Kippford. It isn’t a particularly long walk but as it involves a lot of up-and-over headlands it does give the knees a bit of a workout. The path itself is easy to follow but was very muddy in places after the recent drenching. It follows the coast and gives great views over the Solway to Cumbria and along the coast to Southerness Point. Along the way it passes through picturesque villages such as Portling and Rockcliffe. I don’t think I’ve been anywhere with so many houses that I wanted to live in. Apparently the area became extremely popular with the Victorians when the railway came. It became known as the Scottish Riviera and large, attractive houses sprouted up everywhere: now these are mostly holiday places. Luckily, at this time of year the place is relatively quiet: it must be hell on a May bank holiday though.
After lunching in Rockcliffe I noticed that the tide was heading out leaving a huge expanse of mud in Rough Firth for the waders to enjoy. It also meant that the causeway linking the village to Rough Island was safe to cross and so we headed out. It was a strange experience walking over half-a-kilometre of cockle-shells to get to the island. However, it was well worth it as we had the island to ourselves and the view from the summit was stunning: a 360° view that stretched all the way to the Lakeland fells and in the setting sun everything glowed (see panorama picture 1).
We dragged ourselves away and continued the short distance to Kippford. This had more beautiful houses and because it has a couple of pubs and tea-rooms was the busiest of the places we’ve been: there were even people sitting outside drinking on the 3rd of January!
So did it live up to its billing as the best coastal walk in Britain? We’ll it is certainly in my top three. I’d love to repeat it in May when the coastal plants are in flower and the bird colonies in full activity: it would just be a shame if the place was teeming with people then too.
- Note: it’s big. ↩
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