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Travel & Holidays in later life

Scotland - The Mull of Galloway

Hugh Taylor and Moira McCrossan spent a few days exploring the picturesque villages, beaches, walking trails and historical settlements of a narrow peninsula known as The Rhins of Galloway, starting from the most southerly part of Scotland, The Mull of Galloway.

Stretching north and south of the main town of Stranraer, the Rhins of Galloway has over 50 miles of coastline to explore and enough sandy and shingle beaches, rugged cliffs and hidden coves to keep the most avid adventurer occupied for several weeks. On this trip we confined ourselves to that part of the peninsula south of Stranraer known as the South Rhins.

This was to be our first caravanning weekend of the year so we chose our site carefully. The New England Bay site is part of the Caravan and Motorhome Club and occupies a sheltered seaside location, on the east side of the Rhins, a few miles north of the village of Drumore.  It was our first visit to one of the club sites and it’s one we will return to.

It was late afternoon when we arrived and after booking in and exploring the facilities we headed to the Mull of Galloway, as far south in Scotland as it is possible to go.

Perched on top of its rocky cliffs is the Lighthouse built here in 1830 by Robert Stevenson, grandfather of the author Robert Louis Stevenson. Stevenson built many lighthouses including the one at Corsewall Point, at the north end of the Rhins and the famous Bell Rock Light, considered to be one of The Seven Wonders of the Industrial World.

Most lighthouses are now automated and the auxiliary buildings have found new uses. While Corsewall is a hotel, this one has found a new use as the Mull of Galloway Experience. When it’s open you can climb the 115 steps to the top of the lighthouse and enjoy the spectacular views from its balcony. Then you can learn all of its past in the permanent historical exhibition located in one of the old outhouses. There are several viewing platforms round the cliffs and a path to visit the old foghorn.

In 2013 the land and buildings, with the exception of the Lighthouse tower, were transferred to ownership of the Mull of Galloway Trust following a successful community buyout and it is now a major tourist attraction run by and for the benefit of the local community. They also operate the nearby café, Gallie Craig which is an ideal spot for refreshments after your visit.

A circular walk from the car park is great for exploring what is one of the last remaining sections of natural coastline in Galloway and has lots of great viewpoints. The area is a site of Special Scientific Interest and also an RSPB Nature Reserve where you will spot many species of bird including guillemots, razorbills and puffins. The RSPB operate a small visitor centre with lots of information about the local birds.

By the time we’d completed the walk the sun was getting low so we drove north to the tiny village of Port Logan to watch it set over the historic harbour.

The village was planned and built around 1818 by the local laird Colonel Andrew MacDouall. The old pier and lighthouse was built to a design by Thomas Telford and that was followed by a causeway and road to link them to the village. The causeway blocked the view from the old, existing cottages and the laird expected the inhabitants to move to new houses he was building on the hill behind. However the villagers discovered that the causeway provided excellent shelter against the onshore winter winds and refused to move. Some got their views back by building on an upper storey.

Port Logan was the location for the BBC Drama Two Thousand Acres of Skye, filmed here from 2001-2003. We once met a couple on the pier enquiring about the ferry to Skye. They had seen a timetable on a notice board and thought they could make a day trip. We directed them towards the village shop where they opened the door to find a solid wall. They saw the funny side when we explained about the TV people.
Just beyond the village is the famous Fish Pond. It was also built by the laird to provide fresh fish for Logan House. Now it’s a marine aquarium where visitors can see the fish being hand fed.

Logan House is not open to the public but the grounds are and there is a splendid walk round a mature Victorian Garden. Next door is what was formerly the walled garden of the house and now forms part of Logan Botanic Gardens. Because the Gulf Stream flows past the Rhins, creating a very mild climate, it is possible to grow many exotic plants like palms and palm ferns, out of doors. This is the place to go and see them.

New England Bay Caravan Site

Corsewall Lighthouse Hotel

Mull of Galloway Experience

Gallie Craig Coffee House

Mull of Galloway Circular Walk from the car park

Two Thousand Acres of Skye

Logan Fish Pond

Logan Botanic Gardens


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