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Coo Palace

Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland

Walk 1b - Kirkandrews walking and hiking route

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Walk Instructions

Start: Coo Palace
Footwear: Trainers in dry weather, boots or wellingtons in wet weather
Terrain: Minor roads, farmland and rocky coast

This walk lets you explore the Kirkandrews area and see other examples of buildings associated with James Brown who was responsible for the building of the Coo Palace. It also takes in some interesting coastal scenery and visits an Iron Age fort. The Borgue coast is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and is home to a variety of bird species. You may see roe deer, hares, otters and grey seals in the area.

1. From the Coo Palace warm up with a 1 kilometre walk eastwards on the road, crossing the Pulwhirrin Burn at Roberton Bridge then take the turn on the right to the village of Kirkandrews. The first building on the left is the “wee kirk” built by James Brown in 1906. It is normally open to the public on Sunday afternoons from Easter until the end of September and for Sunday evening ecumenical services at 7 p.m. in July and August. Unfortunately, the kirk is closed for visitors during the COVID-19 epidemic but will be re-opened as regulations allow. The kirk is available for use for weddings, christenings and other events. You can find more information about the kirk and its history at www.kirkandrews.org.uk. James Brown is buried in front of the kirk in the enclosure at the left side. There are memorials to other members of his family on the right side. Kirkandrews village has other buildings that were built by James Brown in Edwardian times. The laundry is a small building on the left of the lane. It originally had a crenellated roof like the wee kirk. The two cottages on the right side of the lane were also built at the same time and have ornamental pebble pathways similar to the entrance of the wee kirk.

2. At the far end of Kirkandrews village is the church yard which is the site of the original Kirkandrews church. There was a church at Kirkandrews before 1200 and it remained in use until 1670 when the parishes of Kirkandrews and Senwick were incorporated into Borgue parish. The gravestones in the church yard date back into the 1700s and the graveyard is still in use today. A notable grave stone is that of the Covenanter Robert McWhae, who was “barbarously shot to death” in 1685 for his beliefs. The stone itself is a 19th century replica. There is also the war grave of Lance-Corporal Francis James Elms who was drowned when his ship, the Leinster, was torpedoed in the Irish Sea in October 1918. His body was recovered from Dead Man’s Bay, close to Kirkandrews. Kirkandrews was also known for its St Lawrence Fair, on 9th August each year, which was notorious for a wild form of horse-racing and was condemned by the local minister as “a time of great lechery and lewdness and should be suppressed”.

3. To the south of Kirkandrews is the hill known as Barn Heugh, with a prominent cairn at its summit. The slopes of the hill towards Kirkandrews are thickly covered with gorse and difficult to navigate but you can access the summit by following the coastal path. The path starts at a gate at the far end of Kirkandrews village. This is also the access point to go down to the beach in Kirkandrews Bay. From the gate, follow the shoreward edge of the field down towards the bay then up to reach a gate at the top right corner of the field. From the gate, a rough path follows the line of a fence around the flank of Barn Heugh until you reach two gates in dry stone walls. Go up through the gate on the left then cross rough ground to reach the summit of Barn Heugh. There was once an Iron Age fort around the summit but there is little trace of it now. Re-trace your route to return to Kirkandrews village. To continue the walk back to the Coo Palace along the coast from Kirkandrews village, follow the footpath signs opposite the wee kirk down to a footbridge across the Pulwhirrin Burn. After crossing the bridge, head uphill across the field, following a faint path. Pass to the right of Craig Cottage then down across the field to the stony beach. At the top of the beach is a large granite boulder. This is a glacial erratic, melted out of a retreating glacier in the last Ice Age. At the right side of the bay is a gate in the fence and this gives access through some gorse bushes into the next field at the head of Dead Man’s Bay. Cross the field, keeping to the right side of the bushes and gorse, pass over a low, rocky ridge then go leftwards down towards the coast to a footbridge across the stream known as the Stramoddie Strand. From the bridge, go through a gate in a fence on the right and head upwards across the field to arrive at the entrance to the Iron Age fort of Castle Haven.

4. Castle Haven is an Iron Age fortified structure or “dun”, It was partially restored in 1905 by James Brown and bears an inscribed plaque on the north-east inside wall. You can walk around the space between the walls and there are steps that lead up onto the ramparts. At the seaward end there are stone steps leading down to the rocky shore of Castle Haven Bay. Exit Castle Haven on the landward side then turn leftwards contouring across the field in the direction of the Coo Palace. At the far side of the field you will see a gate at the left end of the dry stone wall. Go through the gate and the adjacent gate on the right then diagonally uphill across a small field that leads you back to a gate onto the road opposite the Coo Palace.

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Disclaimer: This route was correct at time of writing. However, alterations can happen if development or boundary changes occur, and there is no guarantee of permanent access. These walks have been published for use by site visitors on the understanding that neither HPB Management Limited nor any other person connected with Holiday Property Bond is responsible for the safety or wellbeing of those following the routes as described. It is walkers' own responsibility to be adequately prepared and equipped for the ‎level of walk and the weather conditions and to assess the safety and accessibility of the walk.

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