The Machars of Galloway

The Machars – from the Gaelic Machair means coastal plain and is another low-lying peninsula to the east of the Rhins.

Similar to the Rhins, most of the villages are on the coast although there are some hidden gems inland as well such as Elrig and Whithorn which is just a couple of miles from the Isle of Whithorn.

From west to east, Port William has a harbour and an interesting statue “The Man” gazing out to sea.

Monreith has a beautiful beach and an interesting golf course as it has 9 holes with 18 tees! It is overlooked by a statue of an otter to commemorate Gavin Maxwell famed for writing “Ring of Bright Water” and who was born nearby. Kirkmaiden Church is also worth visiting. Monreith Animal World has many animals in natural surroundings including an otter!

Burrow Head is the most southerly point of the Machars Peninsula. It has stunning views and is famed for being the location of the closing scene of the cult movie “The Wicker Man”. The cliff top walk from here to Isle of Whithorn is well worth the effort.

Isle of Whithorn or “The Isle” has a picture postcard harbour from whee it is a short walk to the ruins of  St Ninian`s Chapel which dates back to c 1300 and marked the start of the pilgrimage route to St Ninian`s Church in Whithorn. St Ninian`s Cave is also nearby.

Whithorn. about 4 miles inland from the Isle is known as the Cradle of Christianity as the first Christian Church in Scotland is thought to have been established here somewhere around AD 450! The Whithorn Story Visitor Centre is a mine of information on this and St Ninian and it has a great coffee shop too! Whithorn has an architecturaly interesting Main Street and an information leaflet on a walk incorporating many of these buildings is available from the Visitor Centre.

Wigtown is Scotland`s Book Town and has over 20 book shops and related businesses. Here, the County Buildings has a small museum and the top storey has panoramic views of the Galloway hills and a live camera link to Osprey nests. There is a RSPB bird hide near the harbour which looks out over the largest LNR in Britain- one of the main attractions being vast numbers of Barnacle Geese.  Nearby,the Martyr`s Stake,  is also an interesting, if gruesome place to visit. Just to the south of Wigtown is the Crook of Baldoon RSPB Reserve which is great for walking and guided walks are also available.

The Machars of Galloway are great for cycling as the roads are quiet and fairly level. There are four colour coded cycle routes on the Machars totalling 84 miles. Cycle hire is avaliable at varous locations including Courtyard Cycle Hire in Kirkcowan