Walk: St Ninian's Cave - to be a pilgrim

Dumfries & Galloway | Whithorn | Short walk | ★★★

[View from St Ninian's Cave across Port Castle Bay]

A wander down shady Physgill Glen to Port Castle Bay is probably the most popular walk on the Machars. It's all thanks to St Ninian, the saint who first introduced Christianity to Scotland, who used a cave here as a retreat and place of prayer. Consequently the walk to St Ninian's Cave has become a popular pilgrimage, with a cool forest section leading to a beautiful stony beach. The cave lies at the other end of the bay and looks impressive from a distance, but turns out to be pretty puny once you get closer. And the early Christian crosses which used to reside in the cave have now been moved to the museum at Whithorn Priory. But, as a pilgrim might say, it's all about the journey...

[St Ninian's Cave]

📌 Walk: St Ninian's Cave - to be a pilgrim ★★★
Start / finish at car park (small charge) at minor road end, Kidsdale, 2 mi south of Whithorn, G.R.: NX 431367 ///goose.wrong.pity

▶ 3 km / 2 mi | ▲ 60 m | ⌚ Short | Easy
Features: Port Castle Bay; St Ninian's Cave
Terrain: Wide track / paths to coast, just a little muddy in the woods. Shingle beach to reach cave - may be inaccessible at very high tides.

Route & map

Car park - Physgill Glen (choice of paths on either side of burn) - Port Castle Bay - St Ninian's Cave - return by outward route

Route credit: Scotland Off the Beaten Track
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On our visit

Wildlife: Small birds and loads of wild garlic in the woods; swallows nesting above the cave.
Weather: About 20°C and sunny with light winds, but much cooler in the wooded glen.

Also on this walk

📌 St Ninian's Cave ★★
At the west end of Port Castle Bay, 3 mi south of Whithorn, G.R.: NX 423360 ///reserved.track.permanent
Closed for conservation works at time of update in December 2020 | Free

💬 Quickest and easiest access to the cave is by the walk route described above.

Chronological photo guide

[Lower part of Physgill Glen]

[The path splits in Physgill Glen, but it doesn't matter which branch you choose]

[Looking west across Port Castle Bay, with the cave just visible at the far end]

[St Ninian's Cave]

[View back from St Ninian's Cave across Port Castle Bay]

[Return by the outward route]


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