Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Rockcliffe to Sandyhills coastal walk (Solway Coast)

The rocky shores at Rockcliffe (low tide).

I went for a bit of an explore around the Solway and Ayrshire Coasts a couple of weeks ago to find some new places to make longer visits to in the future. So, with the dog and my mum in tow, we headed south and started our wanderings at the descriptively-named town of Rockcliffe (which is indeed both rocky and cliffy). From here, there's a coastal walk along a very nice rocky shore and out along the sea-cliffs to the sandy bay at Sandyhills (where there is sand and hills!). The walk itself is about 4.5 miles in each direction, and there is an infrequent bus service that will take you from Sandyhills back to Rockcliffe if you'd prefer not to retrace your steps.

The towns of Rockcliffe and Sandyhills are connected by a lovely coastal walk along the sea cliffs.

There's an easy path that meanders just above the top of the shore if you prefer not to scramble around on the rocks.
The shore around Rockcliffe is volcanic and rocky, with loads of wild plants and a small stretch of woodland running along the at the top of the shore and decent rockpools over the shore itself. Beyond the rocky shore, the coast extends out onto a large mudflat. We didn't see too much in the way of seabirds over the flats, although there were a few of the usual oystercatchers and gulls foraging on the edge of the water as the tide came back in. One of the problems I find with sunny days in the summer though is that most animals get up at the crack of dawn, feed early and then chill out for the rest of the day, so it may just have been bad timing on our part!

Looking up the coast from Castle Point. The path follows the cliffs east to a big sandy bay at Sandyhills.
The path takes you through the edge of the town, past a smuggler's grave and up to Castle Point, which is where the main cliff walk begins.

The view to Sandyhills. This was as close as we got on this occasion!
I was hoping there might be a few seabirds nesting on the cliffs, but there weren't really any to be found the day we visited. A couple of gulls flew past us but there certainly wasn't too much to see in terms of seabirds when we were there!

Looking down over the seacliffs
Saying that, the views along the coast were stunning and the shores around Rockcliffe are beautiful for exploring. We unfortunately weren't able to follow the path all the way to Sandyhills on this particular trip because the dog got too excited about life and cut his foot rather badly on the beach. Not that he noticed or cared particularly (and he's completely fine now!), but we did have to curtail our wanderings and pop him back in the car!

A hooded crow on the shore.
Our happy, oblivious dog.

After Rockcliffe, it was time to head west to Stranraer and the Ayrshire coast, which I'll tell you all about in the next update! [Spoilers: I found a LOT more wildlife to photograph!]