Walk: Balcary circular - smugglers & seabirds

Dumfries & Galloway | Auchencairn | Half day walk | ★★★

[Looking back from Balcary Hill towards Hestan Island]

This rocky section of coastline south of Dalbeattie has a history of unusual dealings. At the start of the walk, Balcary Bay Hotel's huge underground cellars were reputedly used to store illegal goods from smugglers. Meanwhile, isolated Hestan Island is visible from the first section of the walk and used to be home to a couple who manufactured church organs and rowed them ashore for delivery - just about the most impractical set up you could imagine. Today the focus is on agriculture, with the rugged clifftops left alone again for the enjoyment of walkers and wildlife.

[Apparently it gets windy from time to time around here...]

📌 Walk: Balcary circular - smugglers & seabirds ★★★
Start / finish at Balcary Bay car park, minor road 2 mi southeast of Auchencairn, G.R.: NX 821495 ///fishnet.divisible.crawling

▶ 5 km / 3 mi | ▲ 220 m | ⌚ Half a day | Moderate
Features: Balcary coastline; Loch Mackie
Terrain: Clear but rough clifftop coastal paths for the outward leg and rural tracks for the return, occasionally muddy.

Route & map

Car park - Balcary Point - Airds Point - Lochenling - Rascarrel Bay - Loch Mackie - start


Route credit: Walkhighlands (modified)

On our visit

Wildlife: Stonechats, cormorants and other seabirds by the coast; whooper swans and mallards at Loch Mackie; sheep, cows, horses, donkeys.
Weather: Hazy sunshine breaking through cloud layer, mild but breezy on the exposed coast.

[There's a short section through woodland near the start, but most of the walk is open with great views]

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