Lochryan Coastal Path

Lochryan Coastal Path


Walk created by the Rotary Club of Stranraer

Opened Summer 2009

The Lochryan Coastal Path stretches for eleven miles from the Tourist Information Office in Stranraer north to meet with the Ayrshire Coastal Path at Glenapp Church - a beautiful coastal walk providing panoramic views of Lochryan and adjacent lands. To the south the Lochryan Coastal Path links with the Mull of Galloway Trail which finishes at the most southerly point in Scotland - see separate section on this website or the Mull of Galloway Trail website which covers the whole walk http://www.mullofgallowaytrail.co.uk

A leaflet is available at Stranraer and Newton Stewart Tourist Information Centres detailing the route.

A brief description follows and full details of the route, as shown in the leaflet, are at the end of this page.

Sections of the walk include steep gradients and stout footwear is recommended for the off-road sections.  

All walkers using the path do so at their own risk and are expected to take responsibility for their own actions, the safety of themselves and others, the welfare of livestock and wildlife, and the avoidance of damage to crops, all in keeping with the recommendations of the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.

Lochryan plays host to ferry traffic as well as pleasure craft and the loch and its entrance will be visible from the coastal path.



Innermessan is one of the oldest recorded sites in the district, with the motte which is located on the pudding shaped hill, having been built in Norman times as the base for a wooden fortification to control the local population.

The site immediately to the north of the Motte was used as a shipyard during World War I to build ships from concrete to ease the shipping shortage caused by enemy activity. The slipway and yard with workshops were used during World War II and until the late 1950s to serve the landing barges and small craft used in connection with Cairnryan Port.


Leffnol Point

In medieval times an earth and stone boundary wall, called the "Diel's Dyke" was built, which ran from Leffnol Point, through the Galloway Hills, to near Annan in Dumfriesshire. This dyke was to protect a tribe of Celts called Novantae who held this south-west corner of Scotland for centuries from AD 79. In World War II Leffnol held sidings for the storage of up to 2000 railway wagons on the Cairnryan Military Railway. A large engine shed was built to the north of the road entry along with a coaling stage and water tanks, etc



During World War II No. 2 military port was built at Cairnryan.  It had three piers and a railway which linked it to Stranraer. Thousands of troops were based locally in military camps.

At the end of the war 86 U-boats were assembled in Lochryan prior to being scuttled in the Atlantic.

For a period after the war the port was used to load superfluous ammunition into barges for dumping at sea. Thereafter, ship-breaking became the main industry and many well known Royal Navy ships including HMS Valiant, HMS Eagle, HMS Ark Royal and HMS Bulwark were broken up. The Lochryan lighthouse was built in 1847 by Alan Stevenson, uncle of Robert Louis Stevenson.

In November 2011 Stena closed their Stranraer terminal and opened a new terminal just north of Cairnryan. This enables quicker crossings to Belfast and a large saving in fuel.

Laight Hill

North of Cairnryan the walk follows the Old Coach Road which was the main route between Stranraer and Ayrshire from the early 1700s until the early 1800s.  

The standing stone located on Little Laight Hill and known as the "Taxing Stane", is said to commemorate the burial of Alpin, king of the Scots of Dalriada, who was murdered in Glenapp in AD741. It was also a boundary marker between the old kingdoms of Galloway and Carrick along with two further standing stones, now in the nearby forestry plantation.  The nearby four gun 3.7 inch anti-aircraft gun battery was one of four which protected Lochryan and there were two adjoining camps, one for the army and the other for ATS personnel.




Part of a herd of wild goats roams freely along the coastal hillside from Finnart Bay to Downan Shore. They are difficult to locate because of the vast grazing area they have access to, which can be spread out from the A77 road to high on the Glenapp hillside.

Glenapp Church is the point where the Lochryan Coastal Path joins the Ayrshire one. The church was built in 1849-50 at a cost of £456.15.8d. It has a memorial window to Elsie Mackay, third daughter of the 1st Earl of Inchcape, who was killed in 1928 when her plane crashed while attempting to make the first east to west crossing of the Atlantic. The name "Elsie" was picked out with rhododendrons on the hillside opposite  -  now sadly overgrown.

Route Details

The Loch Ryan Coastal Path extends from Stranraer in the south to Glenapp Church in the north, a distance of approximately 11 miles (18 km).  Sections of it include steep gradients and stout footwear is recommended for the off-road sections.

At the north end the path joins the Ayrshire Coastal Path which extends for a further 100 miles (160 km) northwards to Skelmorlie with further paths linking to the West Highland Way and eventually to Cape Wrath.

The walk follows the beautiful coastline of Loch Ryan providing panoramic views of the loch and adjacent lands, where there are large numbers of species of birds and other wildlife such as deer, with wild flowers of varying varieties providing colour throughout the walk.      

All walkers using the path do so at their own risk and are expected to take responsibility for their own actions, the safety of themselves and others, the welfare of livestock and wildlife, and the avoidance of damage to crops, all in keeping with the recommendations of the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.

 Route - Stranraer to Glenapp:

The Loch Ryan Coastal Path commences at the Stranraer Tourist Information Office in Market Street, at the side of which is a plaque on top of a low wall marking the official opening on 7th August 2009 by Alex Fergusson MSP, then Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament.   At this location there is also the first of ten information boards sited at intervals along the route - see below.

Having left the Tourist Information Office and passed the plaque and information board the route follows eastwards and northwards adjacent to the main road to Ayr (A77) around the south end of Loch Ryan.   After 1 miles (2 km), at a gap in the concrete wall approximately350 metres beyond the 30 mph derestriction sign and just before a P 400 yds sign, the first waymarker post is sited where the route leaves the main road and follows the shoreline.   From this point on the route is way-marked with the arrows showing the direction of the route.

The route continues on the shoreline to Balyett parking area and on to Ryan Bay Holiday Park.   At the entrance to the park the route veers to the right and again follows the footway at the side of the main road as far as the entrance to Innermessan Farm;  this being directly opposite the A751 junction.   Turning left the route follows the Innermessan Farm road past the farm buildings and into the fields through the first of 12 kissing gates.   On each of these gates the directional arrow is fixed on the top of the gate post.   The route continues around the western edges of two large fields to a track which links the main road to the shoreline.   Here the route turns left and follows the track, continuing along the shore, crossing Beoch Burn and Several Burn on stepping stones.  In the event of these burns being in spate alternative routes can be followed in the direction of the roadway (A77).  On reaching the boundary of Cairnryan Ferry Terminal the route rejoins the main road footway past the marshalling yard, terminal building and car park before returning to the shoreline and following the route of the old Cairnryan Military Railway.  A shop and B & B establishments are available within Cairnryan village.   At the entrance to the former shipbreaker's yard and lighthouse the route again joins the main road until past the small cemetery, where it turns left before crossing the Glen Burn by way of a footbridge.   Proceeding through the picnic area/lay-by where, picnic tables and toilets are available, the route then crosses the main road and climbs steeply up the road leading past Bonny Braes to Laird's Hill.   Here the route crosses a cattle grid on to a stone track which continues to climb to the top of Little Laight Hill.   Passing through two kissing gates the route follows a fence line down to a small bridge over the Galloway Burn at the boundary of Wigtownshire and South Ayrshire.   Passing through a kissing gate at the corner of a wood the route veers slightly downhill where it picks up a rough grass track which contours round the slope of the hill before joining a stone track leading to a telephone mast.   The route now turns uphill before turning off left to rejoin the grass track.   The route continues to meander with the grass track until it returns to the edge of the wood where it drops down to a kissing gate which leads to a deep ravine formed by the March Burn.   A steep drop takes the route down to a timber walkway and bridge before rising steeply up the opposite bank to a track.   Here the route turns left following the track all the way down to the main road.   On crossing the main road the route turns right along the road verge to the north end of the Loch Ryan Coastal Path and the southern end of the Ayrshire Coastal Path.  Walkers wishing to return to Stranraer by bus should wait at the bottom of the hill track where it is safer for a bus to stop.

 Route - Glenapp to Stranraer:

At the southern end of the Ayrshire Coastal Path on the main road (A77) opposite Glenapp Church and commencing at the first of ten information boards, the Loch Ryan Coastal Path follows the west verge of the road southwards to a crossing point opposite the junction of a hill track.   Continuing through the first of 12 kissing gates where the directional arrows are fixed on the top of the gate posts, the route follows the hill track for approximately one mile to a waymarker on the right hand verge where it takes a right turn to a steep drop down to a bridge and timber walkway over the March Burn, before rising steeply up to a kissing gate and a sharp turn left to follow the drystone dyke/fence line to a section of stone infill.   Following the directional arrows on the waymarkers the route meanders on a rough grass track along the hillside till it meets a further hill track.   There the route turns downhill to a telephone mast before turning sharp left to follow the hill-track upwards.   A waymarker again on the west verge directs the route back on to the grass track which contours around the hill side before leaving the field through a kissing gate at the corner of a wood.   The route now crosses the Galloway Burn at the boundary of South Ayrshire and Wigtownshire and follows a fence-line to two more kissing gates and a stone track passing near to Laird's Hill House and Bonny Braes.  Here the route joins the public road which leads steeply down to the main road crossing.   Continuing through the picnic area where picnic tables and toilets are available and crossing the Glen Burn pedestrian bridge the route now follows the main road past the former shipbreaker's yard and on to the shoreline.   A shop and B & B establishments are available within Cairnryan village.   Passing the P & O Ferry Terminal on the main road the route returns to the shoreline where it continues along the route of the old Cairnryan Military Railway for approximately two miles crossing Several Burn and Beoch Burn on stepping stones.   In the event of these burns being in spate alternative routes can be followed in the direction of the roadway (A77).   The route then follows a rough track which leads from the shoreline up to the main road and just before reaching the main road it turns right through a kissing gate into a field.   The route continues around the edge of the field, past the farm buildings and out on to the main road which follows back down to the shoreline and all the way to Stranraer, passing Balyett parking area.The information boards located along the walk relate to the history of the area and, in sequential order, commencing at Stranraer, are located as follows -

    1.  Tourist Information Office - a map with general information, including a photo of Stranraer Harbour in  the 1960s.

    2.   Balyett -  bird life in Loch Ryan.

    3.   Innermessan - impression of Motte and photo of World War Two ship repair yard.

    4.   Leffnol Point - photos of the Military Railway, sidings and engine shed.

    5.  Cairnryan Village -  photos of Old Cairnryan and HMS Ark Royal.

    6.   Cairnryan Car Park - Map and general information including a photo of the Taxing Stane.

    7.   Old Coach Road -  photos of Lighthouse and North Deep Pier, including a Mulberry "Whale".

    8.   Little Laight - photos of Finnart Bay Gunsite and Anti Aircraft Gun.

   9.   Above Glenapp -  photos of Elsie McKay, Captain Hinchcliffe and Glenapp Church memorial window.

   10.  Glenapp - map and general information including  a photo of the ferry off Loch Ryan Lighthouse.

The coastal path now forms part of the International Appalachian Trail with its origin in the United States of America.   As well as cultural links, Scotland shares an older geological heritage with America, having been close neighbours on ancient continents, sharing in the creation of the Caledonian and  Appalachian mountain chains and only separated by the opening of the North Atlantic Ocean.

This long distance walking route runs from the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail at Katahdin, Maine, and northwards into Canada's Maritime Provinces to Newfoundland.   Using the link between geology and tourism the trail has been extended to include Ireland and Scotland, encompassing the Loch Ryan Coastal Path and extending to the Ayrshire Coastal Path and beyond (information at www.ayrshirecoastalpath.org).

In addition to health and fitness, the International Appalachian Trail promotes environmental stewardship, natural and cultural heritage, cross-border co-operation, and rural economic development through adventure tourism.


The leaflet was prepared by the Rotary Club of Stranraer which gratefully acknowledges the support and consent of the landowners and tenants whose lands the path occupies, as well as the contributions from the following:Dumfries & Galloway Council (Access Officers and Criminal Justice Department), Scottish National Heritage, Solway Heritage, Lendal Trust, Landfill Communities Fund and Shanks Waste Solutions.



'What We Do' Main Pages:

Retiring President John Service hands over the reins to incoming President Chris Brewis


Kids Out - Annual Trip for special needs children


Lochryan Coastal Path


Mull of Galloway Trail

The view back towards the Mull of Galloway lighthouse, featuring some of the trail runners making excellent progress.

This annual Trail Marathon tests runners from the Mull of Galloway lighthouse (southern most point in Scotland) along the coast and across country to the finish at the Stranraer Marina. Here a complimentary BBQ, drinks and music await them as a reward.


Annual RNLI Raft Race at Portpatrick - see report under 'Main Pages'


Running the Club and Social events.


Information about what we do in the Community.


Information about Rotary's own charity.


Fund raising information


Imformation about our international activities.


Sports activities undertaken by the Club and members