Stranraer & The Rhins of Galloway Community & Tourist Information Site



Portpatrick means simply St Patrick's port due to the rumour that St Patrick travelled to Ireland from Portpatrick.

Portpatrick's close location to Ireland (only 21 miles) lead to it becoming the first ferry service to Ireland in the area. There were regular ferries to Donaghdee, County Down by 1616. The first proper harbour wasn't built until 1770 and the North and South piers were added in 1821. You can still see where the tramway lay to the quarry for the harbour's stonework at the Southern end of the Portpatrick. Unfortunately, storms made short work of the North pier in 1839 but the South pier remains. By 1849 the ferry port had to close due to westerly winds making the journey unsafe for large ships. Stranraer, in the shelter of Loch Ryan's natural geography, was a much safer option.

Portpatrick's future looked bleak after the ferries left but the village was rescued by the Orr-Ewing family at the end of the 19th century who turned Portpatrick into a tourist destination.

portpatrick panorama

The modern church in Portpatrick is Victorian, however, remains of the 17th century St Andrew's Kirk still stand, most notably the 16th century tower which is said to have been an early lighthouse.

Portpatrick has the highest sunshine record in Dumfries and Galloway and is also famed for being 'Galloway's Gretna Green' for eloping Irish couples.


Don't Miss This in Portpatrick...

  • Portpatrick Putting Green - For a small fee you can have a lot of fun on this 18 hole putting green. Well worth a go!
  • Dunskey Castle - you can walk to Dunskey Castle from the South end of Portpatrick on a cliff top path. The ruins of Dunskey Castle that stand today were built in the 16th century for the Adairs of Kinhilt (the same family who owned the Castle of St John in Stranraer) but was empty by 1700. Don't be surprised to see an apparition of a 'hairy man' as the castle is said to be haunted by a ghost!
  • Southern Upland Way - the Southern Upland way is a long distance (212 miles!) path that starts at the North end of Portpatrick and takes you all the way to Cockburnspath in the Borders on the East.
  • Lifeboat Week - celebrating the work of the RNLI in Portpatrick once a year.

Nearby Places to Visit...

  • Dunskey Estate Gardens - Another beautiful garden in the Rhins, landscaped in the 18th century and featuring a walled garden, glasshouses, tropical plants and a loch. One of the many gardens to host a snowdrop festival every year.
  • Killantringan Bay & Lighthouse - park at Killantringan and stroll down the steep path to a stunning sandy beach with rock pools full of Starfish. Walk up from the car park and admire Killantringan Lighthouse - built in 1900 by Robert Louis Stephenson's nephew. Look down upon the next bay of Portamaggie and a lower tides you can clearly see the shipwreck of Craigantlet - a container ship that became stranded in 1982. Killantringan's name is said to mean Saint Ninian's church and refers to a chapel that once stood here, dedicated to the locally active saint.
  • Knockinaam Lodge - now a hotel but was used for meetings between Churchill and Eisenhower during World War Two.
  • Port Mora and Port Kale - follow the Southern Upland way from Portpatrick and you will come across two bays. The first, Port Mora is a sandy beach with interesting caves. The second, Port Kale is a pebbly, rocky beach that meets up with Dunskey Glen.

Featured Accommodation in and Around Portpatrick

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