2014 - Backpacking to Stranraer, Scotland (Day 12)

Backpacking to Stranraer, Scotland
21 May to 26 June 2014 (37days)

We always love our morning breakfast of cereals in fresh milk.



Day 12 (01.06.2014 Sun) - trekking 20.8km Loch Ryan Coastal Path

This morning after breakfast, Alistair drove four of us, Norman, Val Allan, Kee Moon and myself to Glenapp for the start of this 20.8km walk from Glenapp Church to Stranraer and then walked back to Alistair’s residence. Allan and Kee Moon stopped at the half-way point by trekking down to the main road and called Alistair to pick them up. The total journey took both of us 6 hours 10 minutes.

LOCHRYAN COASTAL PATH Walk created by the Rotary Club of Stranraer. Opened summer 2009. The Lochryan Coastal Path stretches for eleven miles from the Tourist Information Office in Stranraer north to meet with the Ayrshire Coastal Path at Glenapp Church - a beautiful coastal walk providing panoramic views of Lochryan and adjacent lands. To the south the Lochryan Coastal Path links with the Mull of Galloway Trail which finishes at the most southerly point in Scotland. Lochryan plays host to ferry traffic as well as pleasure craft and the loch and its entrance will be visible from the coastal path.


At the southern end of the Ayrshire Coastal Path on the main road (A77) opposite Glenapp Church and commencing at the first of ten information boards, the Loch Ryan Coastal Path follows the west verge of the road southwards to a crossing point opposite the junction of a hill track.  

The beautiful flowers at Glenapp Church.

Glenapp Church is the point where the Lochryan Coastal Path joins the Ayrshire one. The church was built in 1849-50 at a cost of £456.15.8d. It has a memorial window to Elsie Mackay, third daughter of the 1st Earl of Inchcape, who was killed in 1928 when her plane crashed while attempting to make the first east to west crossing of the Atlantic. The name "Elsie" was picked out with rhododendrons on the hillside opposite now overgrown.

Continuing through the first of 12 kissing gates where the directional arrows are fixed on the top of the gate posts, the route follows the hill track for approximately one mile to a waymarker on the right hand verge where it takes a right turn to a steep drop down to a bridge and timber walkway over the March Burn. 

(L-R) Lim Kee Moon, Val Allan, Norman, Ching Neng Bin


On the Glenapp hillside looking down at the church.

The rhododendrons flowers on the opposite hillside.

The beautiful rhododendrons flower.

Following the directional arrows on the waymarkers the route meanders on a rough grass track along the hillside till it meets a further hill track.  

The footprint of wild red deer on the trek.

Part of a herd of wild red deers roam freely along the coastal hillside from Finnart Bay to Downan Shore. They are difficult to locate because of the vast grazing area they have access to, which can be spread out from the A77 road to high on the Glenapp hillside.

North of Cairnryan the walk follows the Old Coach Road which was the main route between Stranraer and Ayrshire from the early 1700s until the early 1800s.


The large pine forest.

The black slug covers itself in a thick foul-tasting mucus which serves as both protection against predators as well as a measure to keep moist. 

There the route turns downhill to a telephone mast before turning sharp left to follow the hill-track upwards. A waymarker again on the west verge directs the route back on to the grass track which contours around the hill side before leaving the field through a kissing gate at the  corner of a wood.  
Finnarts Bay on Loch Ryan where the river App enters the Loch.



We took a rest for lunch at Laight Hill.

Rising steeply up to a kissing gate and a sharp turn left to follow the drystone dyke/fence line to a section of stone infill. 

The standing stone located on Little Laight Hill and known as the "Taxing Stane", is said to commemorate the burial of Alpin, king of the Scots of Dalriada, who was murdered in Glenapp in AD741. It was also a boundary marker between the old kingdoms of Galloway and Carrick along with two further standing stones, now in the nearby forestry plantation. 

The nearby four gun 3.7 inch anti-aircraft gun battery was one of four which protected Lochryan and there were two adjoining camps, one for the army and the other for ATS personnel.






We pasted by the small cemetery.
The route now crosses the Galloway Burn at the boundary of South Ayrshire and Wigtownshire and follows a fence-line to two more kissing gates and a stone track passing near to Laird’s Hill House and Bonny Braes.  Here the route joins the public road which leads steeply down to the main road crossing. 

Continuing through the picnic area where picnic tables and toilets are available and crossing the Glen Burn pedestrian bridge the route now follows the main road past the former shipbreaker’s yard and on to the shoreline.

A shop, hotel and B & B establishments are available within Cairnryan village. Passing the P & O Ferry Terminal on the main road the route returns to the shoreline where it continues along the route of the old Cairnryan Military Railway for approximately two miles crossing Several Burn and Beoch Burn on stepping stones.  

P&O Irish Sea's European Causeway entering Loch Ryan



In 2011 P&O closed their Stranraer terminal and opened a new terminal just north of Cairnryan. This enables quicker crossings to Larne and a large saving in fuel.

This wild flower is known as foxglove


The route then follows a rough track which leads from the shoreline up to the main road and just before reaching the main road it turns right.




Arctic Tern Bird - The Arctic tern is a seabird of the tern family Sternidae. This bird has a circumpolar breeding distribution covering the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions of Europe, Asia, and North America.


The swans at Loch Ryan.



Norman found part of this small dead snake on the trek.

Innermessan is one of the oldest recorded sites in the district, with the motte which is located on the pudding shaped hill having been built in Norman times as the base for a wooden fortification to control the local population. The site immediately to the north of the Motte was used as a shipyard during World War I to build ships from concrete to ease the shipping shortage caused by enemy activity. The slipway and yard with workshops were used during World War II and until the late 1950s to serve the landing barges and small craft used in connection with Cairnryan Port.

During World War II No. 2 military port was built at Cairnryan.  It had three piers and a railway which linked it to Stranraer. Thousands of troops were based locally in military camps. At the end of the war 86 U-boats were assembled in Lochryan prior to being scuttled in the Atlantic.

For a period after the war the port was used to load superfluous ammunition into barges for dumping at sea. Thereafter, ship-breaking became the main industry and many well-known Royal Navy ships including HMS Valiant, HMS Eagle, HMS Ark Royal and HMS Bulwark were broken up. The Lochryan lighthouse was built in 1847 by Alan Stevenson, uncle of Robert Louis Stevenson.

We passed by a caravan park.


Known as Tritoma, Torch Lily, or Red Hot Poker due to the shape and color of its inflorescence. The leaves are reminiscent of a lily, and the flowerhead can reach up to 1.52 m in height.


The route continues around the edge of the field, past the farm buildings and out on to the main road which follows back down to the shoreline and all the way to Stranraer, passing Balyett parking area. From here we walked all the way to Alistair’s house.

Stranraer and the shores of Loch Ryan, view from north-east end of town.



The Garden of Friendship at this beautiful corner of the town, laid out in the 1920s, is known locally as the Rock Gardens. Its name perpetuated its origins in that "friends" of the community gave flowers and shrubs to help the town council beautify the area but it quickly became 'the Rock Gardens" to the people.



At the Stranraer West Pier.

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