The Mull of Galloway Trail | Day 4
The coast from Stranraer to Burnfoot Bridge just past Cairnryan where we were to finish todays section feels industrial, with a history, as we found out, that dates back to the Romans.
The wee airbnb cottage that Eve and I stayed in last night was delightful and very cosy. It had everything we needed and was close to Tesco so we could stock up. Shaun and Linda the hosts, were lovely and couldn’t have been more helpful. They even left us tea, coffee, hot chocolate and milk as well as lots of sweet treats If you’re visiting Stranraer I can’t recommend this place highly enough 😊
We knew we would be walking into rain today so vacated it slightly reluctantly (Eve was keen to ‘stretch her legs’). The cottage is slightly off trail, but not by much just through the small town centre of Stranraer. Leaving the cottage, within seconds we were on the coast walking beside the sea. It was beautiful.
We started walking feeling throughly refreshed and energised after drinking more cups of tea than I could count!
We could see the grey clouds looming large over the sea and gaining in size as they swept eastwards creating a huge arc of rain that was slowing closing in on us like a massive horseshoe in the sky. It’s looked impressive and threatening at the same time and we expected to get absolutely drenched and remain that way all day.
The rain did indeed come over us but then disappeared before another shower would sweep over us. This is how it continued all day with a slight breeze for good measure.
The rain was the sort that gets you really wet without actually trying to, and the wind creates a windchill that makes it feel a lot colder than it actually is. The met office have predicted snow over the next few days, but by sheer luck we should miss it!
The route started by following the coast road out of Stranraer to regain the coast path. We are still on the Mull of Galloway Trail, however the Mull of Galloway Trail is actually two trails combined. The first trail is the Mull Of Galloway but now includes the Loch Ryan Coastal Path from Stranraer. They collectively form the Scottish Great Trail of the Mull of Galloway Trail.
Walking out of Stranraer we kept on the sea side of the road, a narrow path that seemed to go on forever. It was actually only about 1.5 miles but road walking always feels longer than it actually is. Seeing Stranraer disappear behind us was nice not that we disliked it but rather to see the distance we were walking.
The road was busy and noisy and as usual when a lorry came past, Eve would either jump or cover her ears. I was more nervous as I have nightmares of Eve being struck by a wing mirror at 50 mph.
As per the whole of the Mull of Galloway trail we passed a number of information boards and read them together enthusiastically. I think we’re spending as much time reading these boards as we are walking (slight exaggeration), but they’re brilliant.
I can’t help but to think it should be a prerequisite for entry as one of Scotlands Great Trails to have information boards to highlight points of interest. It would encourage us (not that Eve needs much) to hike a trail if we knew we would also learn some stuff about the area.
As we walked around the bay we were talking to each other about tue beach coming up and Eve was asking if she could go on it. It wasn’t until we were there and had stopped beside it to put our waterproof clothes on that Eve noticed it wasn’t sand at all, it was shells! Billions of shells! I had never seen anything like it and Eve (along with Sarah) are avid shell collectors. Keeping Eve off the beach was never going to happen, but I wouldn’t have stopped her anyway, it was so awesome! As soon as she had her waterproofs on I helped her across the wall and onto the beach whilst I sorted myself out and wrote a quick post for social media. Eve collected about 10 shells which is considerably less than I expected (I had phoned Sarah who was by chance not driving to tell her that Eve was shell collecting)
There was a big lay-by at the end of the road walking section that had a small refreshment room selling hot rolls and drinks. It was approaching midday so we agreed it would be great to use some of the kind and generous donations we have received on Buy Me a Coffee to get an egg roll each. We briefly discussed getting more, but hiking on a heavy stomach isn’t always comfortable. A fried egg rolls was perfect, and at the cost of £2.20 each I didn’t think was too bad. Thank you again to everyone who has donated through Buy Me a Coffee. It’s these wee treats that give us the morale and energy we need to keep going. Thank you
We sat outside and ate them talking about what we could see over the bay. The lay-by also had some industrial binoculars that surprisingly were free to use! Eve asked me if she could have a look through them and I said ‘no’ assuming it would cost as much as our egg rolls! Eve told me she thought they were free as there’s no money slot. Eve inspected the entire bay through the binoculars with particular fascination on the ferry ports we would be walking past later on that day.
The trail now lead slightly away from the road to hug the shore line changing between beach walking and grassy trails lined with Gorse bushes and brambles with occasional short sections of road walking.
The rain was also setting in and the wind was picking up. We put on our gloves and got into a nice pace.
The trail from here improved and we followed some grassy paths which diverted around a campsite before walking across some farmers fields back towards the coast.
Then there was another information board telling us about a boat yard that was built during WWI. Here they were trying to make boats out of concrete due to the amount of ships that were being lost during enemy action. We couldn’t imagine a boat made out of concrete although steel and wooden boats don’t sound much better!
The next small section was not that pleasant. It was covered in rubbish that I assumed had accumulated from Stranraer in the bay. Of course I could be wrong but there was loads everywhere in such a small section.
Anyway, we walked on finding a small dipper section to hide from the wind for a snack. As soon as we stopped and got our food out, the sky opened and we got drenched. We sat it out shouting to each other making fun of how wet it was. I did offer to put the emergency shelter up but Eve said “no, I don’t think it will last long”. 5 minutes later the rain had stopped. We sat for a bit longer then headed off feeling wet but much better for the rest and some sweet food (Eve had a slice of cheese and a cookie)
The path carried on weaving between bushes and crossing burns before settling down to a straight path that went over a concrete coastal defence section and onto a thin path over the glen with brambles and gorse bushes.
The path got so overgrown we had to turn around and retrace our steps to find an alternative path as we couldn’t get through the brambles. We both have cuts and scratches to show from our attempts.
We found a small area onto the beach and climbed down the slippy rocks and walked with ease towards the first major sea port - P&O Ferries Cairnryan.
There was a ship in port being loaded with trucks and cars and it was huge. We don’t know but we had a discussion and decided that it must have at least two floors for cars. It was like watching Mary Poppins’s bag but in reverse. If you don’t know what I mean, there is a clip where Mary Poppins pulls an endless amount of items out of her bag that are much too big to have fitted in there in the first place.
The port was big and it took us about 10 minutes to walk the length of it along the pavement before we reached the village of Cairnryan.
Walking through Cairnryan was nice as there was a really wide area of grass lined with flower pots and daffodils. There was an abandoned pier that we could see from a long distance away and we were pleased to come across an information board telling us about the history of the area.
The whole area and ports was a military naval base and had even been in service within my lifetime.
We walked out of the village and around the corner and past a graveyard with a very ornate building. I assume this was used by sextants to prevent grave robbers. It looked like a mini castle.
Continuing out of Cairnryan to the car park at Burnfoot Bridge we found Sarah sitting in the campervan waiting for us!
We all got in quickly as the rain was coming and drove off to find somewhere to camp for the night. We found a lovely wee spot overlooking the sea listening to the birds.
We have had a good dinner and are now sat snuggled up telling Sarah all about the last few days.
Tomorrow is the last day of the Mull of Galloway Trail and it’s been a good one!
Sleep well and keep safe
See you all in the morning
Ian & Eve