Killantringan Lighthouse was designed by engineer David Alan Stevenson and entered service in 1900. The lighthouse sits to the north of Portpatrick and overlooks the Irish Sea and is a category B listed building with Historic Environment Scotland. It is currently privately owned after being decomissioned in 2005.
This beautiful lighthouse is a dramatic part of the Dumfries & Galloway coastline and makes for a wonderful 6 mile circular walk from the very pretty coastal village of Portpatrick.
I haven’t done much walking in the far west part of Dumfries & Galloway and the chance to visit pretty Portpatrick and see a lighthouse sealed the deal for me! So on a grey spring day, I set off for a wonderful coastal adventure.
Portpatrick is a very pretty coastal town that was once described to me as being like “something out of a Disney film”. Rows of pretty white and pastel-coloured houses sit facing out to the Irish sea while The Portpatrick Hotel sits high on the cliffs above. Guest houses are dotted beside ice creams shops and an antique store.
Sunsets at Portpatrick are beautiful and this secluded part of south-west Scotland really ought to be a place you visit if you are in Dumfries & Galloway.
There is a large, free carpark at the coastal wall and this is where my walk began. Messi and I strolled through the town, passing by tourists with their ice creams and locals fishing from the harbour. Before heading up onto the cliffs I made sure to stop for a wee look at the memorial to the MV Victoria, a ferry which sank on the 31st of January 1953 during a terrible storm while en-route to Ireland, with the loss of 135 lives. You can read more about the disaster HERE at Historic UK or HERE at Wikipedia.
Passing a little playpark, a path carves up through the cliffs and goes by The Portpatrick Hotel and offers wonderful views out to sea. If you are just visiting Portpatrick, I’d urge you to make the effort to climb up the cliffs. The path is good and the views are well worth the effort. Also, there is a bench.
The going is very easy from this point as the path follows the edge of the cliffs, passing by the historic Portpatrick Radio Station and a beautiful newly built house which must have some spectacular views on a summer night! There is, also, another bench. And if you’ve read this blog before you will know I am partial to a good bench.
One of the real highlights of the walk is the next part: the descent into Sandeel Bay. It’s a wonderful little bay, which is split in two by a rocky outcrop and has an old cable house sitting in the middle of it. At the far end are more dramatic cliffs, which I had a lot of fun climbing up through!
Did I mention there’s a cave?
As you drop down into the bay there is a hidden cave which I’d urge caution before you try and go inside as it’s rocky and slippery and not for the faint of heart!
Messi and I are made of strong stuff and we hopped up the crags for a look inside. It’s only a small cave but it’s an atmospheric little nook in which you can soak up the sounds of the sea and enjoy the peaceful bay.
The bay itself is beautiful and would make a perfect stopping point for a short walk from Portpatrick (which is what some other walkers were doing!).
There is a sneaky wee path hidden in the rocks at the north end of the bay, which climbs back up onto the cliffs above. Despite the path it’s really quite steep and I’d suggest being careful, especially if you are coming down it on a return walk from Killantringan Lighthouse! Two women were coming back and I stood aside to let them descend and didn’t blame them one bit for taking their time.
After a bit of a slog to climb back onto the cliffs, the final push to the lighthouse begins and the walk just keeps getting better. Sheep were roaming around the bracken-clad moor and we could see the lighthouse in the distance on it’s lonely outcrop.
The walk became very atmospheric as we strolled along the lonely, quiet moor towards the lighthouse. Sheep were pottering about all around us and foamy waves were crashing on the rocks far below. Everything is well signposted and the path is largely even and smooth, allowing you to focus on the views.
It wasn’t long before we were facing the lighthouse and the wreck of the MV Craigantlet, an 800 ton container ship which ran aground in a storm, beaching itself on the rocks below the lighthouse.
The remains of the ship are still visible at lower tides and are another little bit of naval history on this walk!
The lighthouse itself is very pretty, sitting perched on the edge of the cliffs with the traditional white-and-yellow paint scheme. It’s now a private home but you can imagine how it must have looked in the early 1900’s when it was in active serice. It must have been some place to work!
To the north of the lighthouse is Killantringan Bay, which has a huge beach that could be used to make this walk even longer. More importantly, there is a free carpark a couple of minutes walk from the lighthouse with sweeping views over the bay and with, most importantly, a bench!
The Walk Home
From this point you have a choice. You can retrace your steps and simply head back the way you came, enjoying all the views again. Or, alternatively, you can follow the road from the carpark out onto the B738 and walk back to Portpatrick.
I love a good circuit walk (and seeing more of an area!) so I decided to walk the road back. Despite some cars, the road is quite quiet and it descends through farmland back to Portpatrick. By the time I arrived back in the town the sun was setting and I was given another reminder of why so many people love Portpatrick.
I arrived back at the large carpark in Portpatrick and took in the sea views as the golden sun was descending into the Irish sea. We’d had a great walk that had given us cliffs, caves, shhipwrecks, sheep and a wonderful lighthouse.
I have done a lot of coastal walks in Dumfries & Galloway and the Killantringan Lighthouse circuit is one of the best and one you shouldn’t miss. Even if you just do a section of it or if you drive to the lighthouse carpark and skip the walk entirely!
Make time in your schedule to visit Portpatrick and Killantringan Lighthouse.
Parking: FREE in Portpatrick at South Crescent Carpark (DG9 8LE) and FREE at the carpark at the Lighthouse.
Route Length: 6.5 miles