Episode 12: ‘Rhins of Galloway’ (Season 2)
Ready to go off the beaten path? Let’s drive down the Rhins of Galloway peninsula and make our way from Portpatrick to the Mull of Galloway.
‘Rhins of Galloway’ is a story about exploring the far southwest of Scotland – the hammerhead-shaped peninsula known as the Rhins of Galloway.
Located where the Irish Sea meets the Solway Firth and the North Channel, the peninsula is a hidden gem, so far out of the way that it would be impractical to visit on most itineraries. But those few who venture in this direction, will be rewarded with bustling harbour towns, endless miles of sandy beaches, surprising flora and a geographic superlative.
After the story, I share with you 5 tips to make your road trip to the southwest of Scotland the best it can be.
Are you ready? Great – let’s travel to Scotland!
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Written and hosted by Kathi Kamleitner.
Produced and edited by Fran Turauskis.
Cover Art illustrated by Lizzie Vaughan-Knight.
All original music composed by Bruce Wallace.
Additional sound effects from Zapsplat, Pond5 and SoundBoard.
All photographs by Kathi Kamleitner.
5 Travel Tips for the Rhins of Galloway
1) Bring plenty of time
The south-west of Scotland is a little bit out of the way. From Glasgow it takes about 2 hours to drive to Stranraer, which is the biggest town in the region.
Now, that doesn’t sound so far, but if you want to include the southwest in a more general Scotland itinerary, you’ll quickly find that there is a lot to do and see – it would be a shame to only visit for 1 or 2 nights.
In fact, that’s why I’m working on a Ready-Made Itinerary that spends a whole week in the south of Scotland.
2) Base yourself in Newton Stewart
There is no shortage of accommodation in the Rhins of Galloway – in fact there are many lovely hotels and B&Bs by the waterfront in Portpatrick, and some stunning caravan parks up and down the coast.
But, I like basing myself in or around Newton Stewart when I visit the area. Newton Stewart sits about halfway along the coast of the Solway Firth – that’s what the sea inlet on the southwest of Scotland is called.
From there, you have easy access to the Rhins of Galloway in the west, but also other places like Wigtown – out National Book Town, the Galloway Forest Park and historic sites towards Dumfries.
3) Visit Logan Botanic Garden
In case you couldn’t tell from the story – Logan Botanic Garden is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful gardens I’ve visited in Scotland. It was gifted to the nation in 1969 and is now part of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.
By visiting you support their scientific and conservation work that allows us to learn more about biodiversity, climate change and global ecologies.
4) Go to the Grapes Bar in Stranraer
A stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet.
I can’t think of a better place where this applies than the Grapes Bar in Stranraer. In fact, the sentence is painted onto the side of the building!
The pub is small, but cheerful and plays host to many bands and local musicians. From Blues to Americana, there is always something going on and you’ll soon be chatting to some of the locals in the bar.
5) Consider hiking the Mull of Galloway Trail
The Mull of Galloway Trail is a long-distance trail that starts at the Mull of Galloway lighthouse and leads to Stranraer. You can hike it in 2 days, like I did last July, or take longer to do day trips to the gardens, Portpatrick and other interesting places on the peninsula.
I hiked the trail during a heatwave and really enjoyed the variety of scenery you walk through, from the steep cliffs near the lighthouse to sandy dunes covered in heather and quiet backroads through farmland.
It’s a beautiful trail and very quiet, so you’ll have it all to yourself.