Hidden to the south-west of Kirkcudbright is one of my favourite beaches and circular walks in Dumfries & Galloway: the Brighouse Bay circular. If you follow the A75 and look for the turn for Kirkcudbright you will see signs for the B727 which will take you to the pretty little village of Borgue. From here head south to ‘Brighouse Bay’.
Brighouse Bay has a caravan park and a variety of holiday homes dotted around a picturesque coastal landscape. The highlight of that landscape is the large, ‘cove-style’ beach with soft sand and stunning coastal views to the Isle of Man.
The walk itself is a beautiful coastal walk, starting at the beach before climbing through woodland and emerging high above dramatic coastal cliffs. The walk then loops through cattle fields and arrives at the highest point in the area, marked with a little cairn and a bench. The views are endless in all directions and worth the effort.
Finally the track continues through the farmland and descends back to the beach. It makes for a wonderful day out regardless of the time of year. It’s a superb winter or summer walk.
Once finished, I’d suggest returning the B727 and following the pretty coast road up to Kirkcudbright for a nice meal in a local pub or grabbing a chippy and eat it while watching the boats bob in the harbour.
I should warn you about the carpark…it’s bumpy. And a bit small. In the middle of summer getting a space is not easy and in winter the lower section can be a bit muddy. There are also some potholes and an uneven surface: if you are reading this and planning on bringing your Porsche or Lamborghini I’d advise against it. On the plus side, there are toilets!
I arrived early on a sunny day in late April and I had, of course, brought my walking buddy with me. Once I had my boots on we took a few steps from the carpark and were on the beach and I became really quite distracted.
The tide was out and the beach was a beautiful place to be. The beach at Brighouse Bay has soft sand and is a a curved ‘C’-shape, making it a lovely spot for a wee stroll (or a picnic). There was a handful of others walking their dogs and my walking buddy was certainly enjoying himself: sprinting around me in huge figure-eights.
I decided to spend some time on the beach, to let him stretch his legs and for me to take in the wonderful views. I could see far out to sea, with the faint outline of the Isle of Man on the horizon. With Messi splashing in the sea (he loves water) I was taking pictures of the views and of the wildlife that lived in this secluded bay.
I eventually managed to drag myself away from the beach and I headed back to the west side of the beach, where a small path leading
from the carpark heads into the woods.
It’s a lovely flat walk through the trees and wonderfully atmospheric. It was a bright, sunny day and I could see and hear the sea through the lush woods. I am such a fan of wild bluebells (they really are everywhere, from highland glens to lowland woods) and it wasn’t long before I’d walked into huge swathes of them, surrounding the trees and adding even more colour to the pretty surroundings.
One little highlight of the walk was the signage dotted throughout it. The entire walk has large route signs but there is much more signage than that. The wood has many little ‘Nature Watch’ signs that give information on the flora and fauna in the wood and surrounding area. They are exceptionally cute and you should keep an eye out for them.
It wasn’t long until the woodland ended and we emerged at a wonderfully placed bench. Now if you have read this blog before you will know I am somewhat a fan of a well-placed bench and this is a good one.
Perched on a little rocky outcrop, it looks out over the bay and far out to sea. This would be a perfect walk if you just wanted a little stroll and didn’t want to take on the full walk.
From this point on the walk begins to climb gently upwards, slowly gaining altitude until I was high above the cliffs below. The views out to sea were endless and it was reminding me of one of my favourite walks: St Ninian’s Cave at the Isle of Whithorn.
I was having far too much fun taking photo’s of the seagulls flying by and the walk was still throwing up entertaining signs.
The cliffs were dramatic and on a nice sunny day, it was a joy to be in this part of Scotland. Seabirds were everywhere, I was taking photos of sea gulls, black-headed gulls, cormorants and more. The path walks around the edge of Brighouse Bay Golf Course and, even though I am not a fan of the sport, it must be quite the spot to play a round! Although I was having more fun taking pictures of the wagtails (one of my favourite birds) who were strolling around on the greens.
Gulls were on their nests on the cliff ledges and islands far below, there were views out to the Isle of Man and all over Wigtown Bay. Eventually, perched at the highest point on the cliffs, was another bench.
I was delighted.
The bench (and the little gate beside it) mark the end of this section of the walk. The coast continues on, looking towards Auchenlarie Caravan Park and Carsluith and with spectacular views beyond that towards Cairnharrow, Cambret Hill and the Galloway Forest Park hills beyond.
It’s a wonderful spot for a bench and if you turned back at this point, you’d still have a spectacular coastal walk.
The next section sees the path turn sharply to the right, into the surrounding farmland, and climbs to the highest point in the area which is marked with a cairn and yet another bench.
From here, the walk is marked by farm animals grazing in the fields. Cows and sheep are everywhere and it just adds to the atmosphere of these clifftop fields with their endless sea-views. I sometimes wonder if the cows appreciate their surroundings!
As I was taking some photos and enjoying the view, I heard water and looked down: Messi had stuck his head through the fence and was having a nice drink from the cows water trough!
Once off the summit the rest of the walk follows a small, well-signposted path that walks a narrow channel between the fields. At one point, it arrives at a ruined cottage where you can turn on to the road and follow it back to the car park or continue on and make the walk a little longer.
I continued on. I wanted to do the full loop and the gentle sun and rolling fields was making it a perfect day out.
Eventually, the path ends at a small, dusty road and swings down through a farmyard. Roe deer were trotting through the fields as we passed some secluded cottages and, once more, we were gifted with a view of Brighouse Bay.
A little more descent, with a brief cut through a tiny field, and we were back at the carpark. For a walk of arond 5 miles (with a shorter version available) this really is one of the best coastal walks in all of Dumfries & Galloway: which is no mean feat!
The walk has a bit of everything. Golden sands, lush woodland, dramatic coastal cliffs, sweeping views, rolling farmland, a huge variety of wildlife and, of course, some good benches.
It even has a free carpark and fantastic signage throughout.
If you are in Dumfries & Galloway it’s a must-do walk.
Route Length: 5 miles
Walk Guide: HERE