5 spectacular circular walks around Coo Palace

Posted by Katy Peck on 8 January 2020
Related property: Coo Palace
5 spectacular circular walks around Coo Palace

If you’re planning a walking holiday, then Coo Palace in Dumfries and Galloway is a wonderful choice. Surrounded by magnificent coastline, lush woodland, rolling countryside and charming towns and villages, there’s always something to discover when you get out and about on your own two feet. There’s no end of walking routes to choose from, so to help get you started, we’ve rounded up five of our favourite circular walking routes around Coo Palace.

The Knockbrex Estate (2–6 miles)

This historic walk takes you around the Knockbrex Estate, which once belonged to James Brown; the man responsible for building Coo Palace itself. As well as this, you’ll take in plenty of breathtaking coastal scenery, spectacular coastlines and ancient sites, including an Iron Age fort. This part of the coastline is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest and home to a variety of rare bird species, as well as deer, otters, grey seals and more.

The trail starts with a 1km walk from Coo Palace, which will lead you all the way to the nearby village of Kirkandrews. From here you can continue up a track beyond the village to the summit of Barn Heugh, which offers amazing panoramic views of the surrounding countryside (you can also access Kirkandrews Bay from here). Alternatively, follow the footpath signs to a second stony beach, then walk along the coastline until you reach the Iron Age fort of Castle Haven, which was partially restored by James Brown in 1905.

After visiting the fort, you can re-join the road that leads to Coo Palace and either return home or continue on to Knockbrex bathing house – another of James Brown’s unusual buildings.  Finish your walk with a pleasant stroll through the lush woodland to an impressive stone seat, where you can enjoy fantastic views over Wigtown Bay and the Galloway Hills before heading back towards the property.

Gatehouse of Fleet and Anwoth (3 miles)

This is another fascinating walk which allows visitors to experience the history of Gatehouse of Fleet, while also exploring the village of Anwoth and enjoying fantastic views of Wigtown Bay.

Start your walk in the main car park in Gatehouse of Fleet, before following the route through the village and across a lovely wildflower meadow, where you’ll discover a walled viewpoint at the top of the hill. There are a few more slopes to climb as you continue along the waymarked path, which will eventually take you to Trusty’s Hill, with its 5th Century Iron Age fort and carved stones.

Continue your route towards the village on Anwoth, and you’ll discover Rutherford’s Monument. This was erected in 1842 in memory of Samuel Rutherford, who was Minster in the parish between 1627 and 1639. Here it is worth stopping and taking a moment to enjoy the beautiful views across Wigtown Bay and the Fleet Estuary, before returning through Anwoth and back to your start point.

Kippford to Rockcliffe (3-5 miles)

This walking route is very popular, especially during the summer months. It leads walkers along a section of coast known for being one of the most scenic in the area, passing many points of interest along the way, including the Mote of Mark, a National Trust site and Rough Island.

Start your walk at the car park in Kippford Village – a popular place for yachting, and home to a range of wading birds such as redshank and curlew. Follow the route along the coastline, perhaps stopping at the viewpoint to admire the amazing views of Rough Island. During low tide, it’s also possible to walk to the island along the causeway, although it’s not recommended unless you know the tides well.

Follow the footpath to the village of Rockcliffe, which will take you through some pretty woodland owned by the National Trust for Scotland. Rockcliffe is a charming seaside town, arranged around a sandy bay. It’s a great place to stop for an ice cream and enjoy some lovely views over the water. From here, you can head back towards Kippford, using the route that takes you to the Mote of Mark, with its Iron Age hill fort. The rest of the route follows the ‘Jubilee Path’, created in 1901 during Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee.

Balcary to Rascarrel (5 miles)

Another popular coastal walk, with amazing views across Galloway Hills and the Solway Firth. This route does include an exposed section of clifftop paths, so be careful in wet or windy weather.

Start in the Balcary Bay Hotel car park – this hotel was rumoured to have originally been a front for the smuggling that went on in this area during the 18th Century. Follow the signposted path through the woodland and along the side of Balcary Tower, where you can enjoy great views across Auchencairn Bay. From here the route takes you through wild moorland up to Balcary Point, where you can also sit and look down onto Lot’s Wife, a rock pinnacle popular with nesting seabirds and, therefore, birdwatchers!

Further along you’ll find the site of an extensive Iron Age fort, as well as a rock formation known as Adam’s Chair. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the Lake District from here! Once you reach Airds Point, follow the rocky path down towards sea level, passing some old mine workings until you reach the group of huts at Lochenling. Here you can either follow the coastal path back or take the shorter route up to Loch Mackie.

Carrick and Sandgreen (5.5 miles)

This final route is a fantastic way of exploring the coastline surrounding Coo Palace. You’ll discover some lovely beaches, magnificent views, fascinating history and untouched countryside, all within easy reach of your comfortable accommodation.

The route starts at Isle Mouth Bay, which can be reached by a short drive or by following the Knockbrex Estate route for a couple of kilometres. You can access Ardwall Island from here during low spring tide, although be sure to check tide times and heights before attempting to cross the Bay. If you do decide to make the journey, you’ll find the site of some 6th Century chapels and grave sites. Once you’ve had your fill of historical sites, continue along the coast to Carrick Bay, which is a popular location for swimming and water sports. Either stop here or follow the track to Airds Bay; another sandy beach with lovely views over the estuary.

Leave the beach via the path leading through the nearby holiday park and into farmland. It will take you through several fields in a secluded little valley, before finally meeting the road near Knockbrex castle. This was originally built as a garage for Knockbrex house! From here you can make your way back along the road to your starting point. Make sure to stop at Knockbrex Hill as you pass and take in the amazing views over the Whithorn Peninsula.

Of course, this is just the start of the amazing walking opportunities around Coo Palace. Wander along windswept beaches, explore untouched woodland and drink in the spectacular views… you’ll soon see why Scotland is often called the most beautiful country in the world!

Remember, you can find more information about all of these walking routes, and many more, on the walks section of our website.

To find out more about how you can enjoy a stay at Coo Palace, as well as our 30+ other properties across the UK and Europe, simply get in touch with our team.

Katy Peck

Katy Peck

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