Sandyhills is a lovely place. And, for the first time for many weeks, I truly feel I’m beside the seaside, rather than on an estuary.
There are, of course, quite a few static caravans dotted around.
The tide is high, the beach is lovely and, just around the headland, is a mix of rocks and sandy coves. There, looking east across to the opposite side of the bay, is Southerness.
Looking south, across an even wider stretch of water – the Solway Firth – is the coast of Cumbria. England. I can even see the steam cloud coming from the paper mill factory near Workington. Great views. I could stay here all day…
…but it’s time to get on with the coastal path, and I find a signpost pointing my way up a hill.
It’s a steep climb, but the views just get better and better.
Eventually I reach a place called Torrs Hill, and the view is spectacular. It’s as good as anything you get in Devon, or in Pembrokeshire. Just wonderful!
From there, the path drops down into Portling Bay. It only appears as a cluster of houses on my map, but turns out to be larger than it looks.
(I’m walking southwest and into the sun, so I apologise because my photographs of the views ahead are poor.)
Here I have to leave the coast for a while, due to private property. The walking route is well marked, with clear signs. I follow a lane through Portling. It’s only 3.5 miles to Rockcliffe. I’m nearly there, but I don’t want this walk to end.
The lane rises up and then drops down to another group of houses. This is Portowarren. The road comes to a dead-end, but there’s a footpath off to the right, and I begin to climb up the slopes of White Hill.
The views up here are staggering.
From White Hill, the path meanders up and down the cliff top. The smell of gorse is so powerful – honey and coconut – I feel quite giddy.
I make slow progress, partly because the path is rather strenuous, and partly because I keep stopping to take more photographs. You can never have too many, can you?
There’s been a couple walking behind me, but they appear to have turned back. So I’m alone up here. I’m always amazed by how little distance other people cover.
Ahead is another bay. I check my map. Rough Firth and then Auchencairn Bay. But how far can I actually see. Is that blue line on the horizon the Mull of Galloway?
Onwards, along this lovely path.
The views inland are lovely too. Criffel is still visible, just. The cloud shadows chase across the bright green, so the landscape seems to change every few minutes.
Out to sea, the wind turbines stand like an army of tall ghosts.
The path rolls along, with gentle ups and downs, and only the occasional steep little valley to negotiate. The route is clear and well trodden, and with useful little bridges across any streams. Ahead is Castlehill Point (according to my map), or Castle Point (according to local signs).
Castle Point guards the entrance to yet another estuary. This is where the river called Urr Water empties into the sea. Standing on the point, looking at a plinth, is a foreign family (maybe Dutch?) who have walked here from Rockcliffe.
Set into the plinth is one of those engraved compasses that tells you the distance to various other places.
- 8 miles to Southerness,
- 16 miles to Silloth,
- 24 miles to beautiful St Bees Head!
Oh dear, I seem to have walked so far, and still not got anywhere at all… but I remind myself it’s the journey, not the distance, that counts. Time for a quick self-portrait…
…and then I turn north and follow the footpath up the estuary towards Rockcliffe. I can see the village ahead and, alarmingly, a rain cloud seems to be heading this way. The foreign family must have seen it too, because they are hurrying home.
I walk along the edge of a field, and then through a thicket of gorse and bramble towards the shore. Here I come across a grave, strewn with a bunch of daffodils. Nelson’s grave? Was Admiral Nelson really buried here?
No. Turns out this is the grave of Joseph Nelson, who died when the his ship, The Ann, was wrecked near Castle Point in 1791. His was the only body found and he was buried near the Point. Later, his wife (also called Ann) installed this memorial stone for him.
The path runs close to the shore. Rockcliffe looks lovely. I’m growing tired.
Another little bridge, and my path becomes a track, running past gardens and houses on the edge of Rockcliffe.
I reach the road, and walk along the curving bay to the point where I caught the bus this morning. There is no sign of rain. The cloud I saw earlier must have gone somewhere else.
My walk is over. I sit on a bench in the sunshine, finish my remaining water, and eat a snack bar.
It’s been a fabulous walk. Not only was the weather decent with good visibility, but the terrain and the views were wonderful. In fact, it’s been the best day I’ve experienced walking in Scotland so far.
Miles walked today = 14 in total
Total miles around the UK = 3,128.5
Route: (morning in red, afternoon in green)