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 ★★★
▶ 3 km / 2 miles | ▲ 60 metres
Features: Port Castle Bay; St Ninian's Cave
Start / finish: Car park (small charge) at minor road end, Kidsdale, 2 miles south of Whithorn, G.R.: NX 431367 ///goose wrong pity

Route: Car park - Physgill Glen (choice of paths on either side of burn) - Port Castle Bay - St Ninian's Cave - return by outward route
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.
Wildlife today: Small birds and loads of wild garlic in the woods; swallows nesting above the cave.
Weather today: About 20°C and sunny with light winds, but much cooler in the wooded glen.

📌 St Ninian's Cave ★★
At the west end of Port Castle Bay, 3 miles south of Whithorn, G.R.: NX 423360 ///reserved track permanent
Always open | Free

Anything else? Quickest and easiest access to the cave is by the walk route described above.

[Physgill Glen]

Route map

Route credit: Historic Environment Scotland

More photos

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

[Lower part of Physgill Glen]

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


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