The Galloway Cottage area - Things to do
Galloway is one of the most lovely scottish counties with its ruggedly beatufil landscape, flat sandy beaches and its isolated position. It lies on the south west coast of Scotland and is part of the wider Dumfries and Galloway council. To the west and south lies the beautiful Irish Sea, to the north are the rolling Galloway hills and to the east flows the River Nith. The most rugged parts of this county lie to the north which forms the largest remaining wilderness in Britain, south of the Highlands.
The tiny village of Monreith lies 2 miles south east of the harbour village of Port William. It is a quiet, tranquil backwater with the majority of the village lying along the road looking towards the sea. The village has provided a home and holiday destination for many generations of families, both Scottish and from the rest of the UK. The villages attraction lies in its immediate proximity to stunning beaches, beautiful walks and the ability to completely get away from things.
In the past, the village was known as the Milltown of Monreith because of the grain mills that were powered by the gushing waterfall of Monreith Burn. This roaring power can still be experienced today in stormy weather, by standing directly over the waterfall that runs into Monreith Bay and down to the sea. The entire area used to be owned by the then vast Monreith estate and the village provided housing for many of the mill and estate workers.
The name of the cottage - St Medans comes from an old tale about St Medena. Legend has it that her healing powers were placed over the well, located on Church Bay, so that anyone drinking its water would receive healing from illnesses, especially whooping cough.
There are 3 beaches in close proximity (walking distance) of the cottage. Each one has its own beauty and definitely warrants exploring! When the tide is completely out you can even walk between all three - just make sure to keep your eye on the water. All three are safe to swim in, with clean, clear water and on a hot summers day, there is no better place to be.
Monreith Sands is your closest beach, just 4 minutes walk away. Leaving the house, walk to the right and roughly 100 yards on your left is a track. Follow this beneath the trees, along the stream and down to the sea. The beach is relatively sheltered on both sides by grassy cliffs and rocky outcrops. A stream runs down the right hand side which is a particular favourite with children wanting to make dams and bridges. The beach is pebbles initially, turning into wonderful rock pools for spotting those little crabs and then for the most part, a wide expanse of golden sand.
Church Bay lies to the left of Monreith Sands (if looking at the sea) and it is possible to walk between these two beaches at low tide. The cliffs that lie between the two house fantastic caves for exploring and even a deep blue pool for nature watching. This beach can also be accessed from your front door by walking over the cliff tops or by driving and following the signs for the golf course. Just above the beach is an old church, with pirate gravestones!
Golf course Bay is further on again from Church Bay and is the favourite for swimming. It is the most sheltered area of the beaches and has the most sand. Cliffs rise to the left of the beach with ruggedly beautiful rock formations while the to the right are sand dunes and rock pools. Behind you rises the sloping greens of the golf course, you might even hear the occasional "fore!".
There are a multitude of lovely walks that you can do from the cottage doorstep. Make sure to take a good map of the area with you to seek them all out. A lovely way to get to both Church Bay and Golf Course Bay is by walking along the cliffs above the sea. It is about a 15 minute walk and the views you get are absolutely spectacular, not to mention finding a famous otter along the way!
From the cottage, walk left out of the village. Just after you have passed the last house in the village, before the road slopes uphill slightly there is a gate on the right with a walking sign pointing to Maxwell's Otter (see picture). Follow this through a little wooded area, through another gate and into a wide open field from which the first of the amazing views can be seen! Follow the track and the gates, past benches to admire the scene and up the hill to the statue of the otter. From here you can see Monreith Sands behind you and Church bay and the stunning golf course in front of you. From here it is a short downhill walk along the small road to both beaches.
You can also walk to Port William (the nearest village) in about 20 minutes. It will mean walking along the road but there is never much traffic and the views in the area are worth it. Alternatively you can cycle, using the two bikes that can be found at the cottage. You can also cycle to Whithorn in about 45 minutes (the nearest town in the opposite direction). Neither are challenging rides, enabling you to enjoy the rugged landscape and outstanding beauty that you pass. Both villages have all the essentials you will need for a comfortable stay in the cottage.
Monreith has three settlements within easy distance. All have everything youll need for a comfortable stay at Galloway Cottage and each is has its own local charm. You can choose to walk, cycle, drive or take a bus to all three. Alternatively, if major supermarkets are what youre after you will find a Sainsburys in Newton Stewart and Tesco and Morrisons in Stranraer.
Port William is a lovely little area to the north, a 5 minute drive and 20 minute walk. Here you will find small grocery shops, a hardware store, post office, doctors, bank and harbour. In terms of places to eat there is a deli serving freshly made sandwiches, wraps and baguettes. The Clansman is a local pub, serving freshly caught fish and good pub grub. The Monreith Arms is a long established hotel/restaurant/pub where youll always find a warm welcome.
Whithorn lies to the east of Monreith, a 15 minute drive or 40 minute cycle ride. The town features grocery shops, ironmongers, newsagents, post office and visitors centre. The Isle of Whithorn is situated on the coast, with a very pretty harbour area. Here you will find the best pub in the area, the Steam Packet which has been personally run by the Scoular family for over 20 years. With a cosy pub setting and sun drenched conservatory eating area to the rear the pub is comforting and welcoming with all the best food in the local area, along with your favourite tipple. The Galloway Ice cream is to die for!
Wigtown is Scotlands national book town and is just a 30 minute drive away. With over 20 book related businesses and over quarter of a million books to choose from, youre bound to find a holiday read or two. With a variety of places to eat and year round activities, this town makes a lovely day trip. Check out their website for more details www.wigtown-booktown.co.uk
Above Church Bay sits the bronze sculpture of Gavin Maxwells otter, Mijbil. Gavin Maxwell was the author of the famous book Ring of Bright Water which was also turned in to a successful film. The sculpture commemorates the man and his tame otter above the place where they used to take their walks.
If you follow the otters gaze you will find the rolling greens of St Medans Golf course. This 9 hole course is a beautiful place to practice your swing, with wonderful sea views and perfectly kept greens. Within a relatively small course, you are represented with remarkably changing vistas and driving experiences, from exposed hilltop to sheltered valley. There is also a small putting green and bar and restaurant open in the summer months.
Just below the otter lies Church Bay and the ruins of Kirkmaiden Church. This is one of the oldest churches in Scotland and the resting place of many of the Maxwell family who owned the Monreith estate. Legend has it that when this parish was united with Glasserton, the pulpit and bell were removed from Kirkmaiden church and were to be transported by sea across Luce Bay to a church of the same name near the Mull of Galloway. A strange storm blew up and the boat foundered, sinking the pulpit and bell. The story goes that on the approaching death of any descendant of the McCullochs of Myrton, the wraith-bell rang from the depths of Luce Bay. The graveyard of the church is also home to some pirate graves!
Monreith House is the remainder of the once great Monreith estate which used to cover 16,000 acres. It is still owned by the Maxwell family today, although much of it has been turned in to holiday flats. The house is surrounded by beautiful woodlands, and looks towards the White Loch of Myrton.
The Mull of Galloway Lighthouse is a lovely and interesting place to visit where you can have tours around the lighthouse and its walled garden. Also located on the Mull is Corsewall Lighthouse where you can enjoy a fabulous 3 star meal as well as touring the lighthouse and grounds.
One of the main attractions to Galloway Cottage is the abundance of wildlife in the area. Due to its relatively isolated location, you can experience nature on your very doorstep and are bound to have some experiences youve never had before.
There are many types of birds you can see in the area, from birds of the sea - cormorants, oyster catchers and guillemots to a wide variety of inland birds. If youre lucky you might catch a glimpse of seals in the bay, otters in the streams and deer on the beaches. You may spot hares and stoats in the fields and can wake up to rabbits on the lawn if youre staying in the chalet. There are also the traditional scottish animals of shetland ponies and highland cattle - the dwarves and giants of Scotlands animals!