Galloway’s iconic Rhine lighthouses are set to become more accessible than ever with the launch of a new tourist trail by Stranraer Development Trust. The Rhine Lighthouses Tour, launched today, invites you to discover six iconic lighthouses by boat or e-bike.
Lighthouses featured include Mull of Galloway Lighthouse, Scotland’s most southerly point, Killantringan Lighthouse, located on the Southern Upland Way coast-to-coast walking route, and Loch Ryan, close to Cairnryan ferry port. Other lighthouses include Portpatrick, Port Logan and the remarkable Corsewall Lighthouse at the mouth of Loch Ryan, which in recent years has become a well-known hotel.
In addition to the bookable tours, a series of mini-documentaries have been created to explore the history of each site. The films are presented in a digital Flipbook on the Gateway to Galloway website. The boat and e-bike excursions are carried out in partnership with two local companies in order to amplify the positive local economic impact of the project.
Vanessa Gracie, of the Stranraer Development Trust’s Gateway to Galloway visitor centre, which developed the routes, said the new trails would help bring the stories and coastal history of the Rhine Peninsula to life. She says:
“This was a fascinating project which gave us the opportunity to explore Galloway’s Rhine Lighthouses from a visitor’s perspective. We dove into the history of each lighthouse and identified the best ways to see and appreciate each site. This has led to the development of tour experiences which we hope will be popular with locals and visitors this year.
Christina Johnston of Stranraer Development Trust said:
“Telling the individual story of each lighthouse was an important part of the project, especially as 2022 has been designated Scotland’s Year of Stories. Some of the Rhine lighthouse sites are already quite well known, particularly the Mull of Galloway, but all of our local lighthouses have fascinating stories to tell.
“We wanted to focus on the Rhine lighthouse sites and create a flipbook to reflect that in digital form for everyone to enjoy. The collaboration we have received from everyone involved has been fantastic and greatly appreciated, and we believe this will be something that people can consider, not just now but in the future, as an important part of local history. .
Short documentaries for the Digital Flipbook were made by local filmmaker Mark Simpson of Scarlett Visuals, with interviews from John Ross and Dr Barry Miller from the Northern Lighthouse Board, Callum Currie from Portpatrick Harbor Community Society, Maureen Chand from Mull of Galloway Trust and archive material from the Nelson & McDonald collection.
Mark Simpson said:
“We live in an absolutely beautiful part of the world and our local lighthouses are located in amazing coastal locations. So it was fantastic to combine the spectacular visual experience of the lighthouses with the stories of their past. Using a drone to capture footage gives a great sense of place. So while visitors can’t get inside most of these lighthouses, I hope the videos convey the importance of these coastal icons in keeping the people who live and work around our coast safe.
The boat tours were designed in conjunction with Dominic Wilson, owner of Portpatrick-based boat The Optimist, while the e-bike tours were developed with Jack Westby of Leswalt-based Westby’s Electric Bike Hire.
The first Lighthouse Boat Tours are due to take place on the 12thand and 15and of April and the 3rd of June, with future trips planned for the summer. Captain Dominic Wilson said:
“I think the area really needs to be enhanced and there is a lot of maritime history, of which the lighthouses are a part, so it’s great that these circuits have been developed and I’m delighted to be part of the project .
“Seeing the lighthouses from the sea gives people a different perspective than seeing them from land. You can see the rugged outcrops they watch over, giving people a real understanding of the purpose they serve. I hope the tours will be popular and look forward to taking locals and visitors to explore them.
Lighthouse e-bike tours are open for booking now. Jack Westby said:
“E-bikes are a fantastic way to explore the Galloway countryside as they give you the chance to get to some really interesting off-road places. This is particularly suited to lighthouses, and in fact several lighthouses, such as Killantringan, are easier to approach by bicycle than by car or boat. We look forward to helping visitors to Galloway get off the beaten track and explore the Rhine Lighthouse Trail, and expect it to be very popular.
Romano Petrucci, Chairman of the Stranraer Development Trust, said:
“We see tourism as a major economic opportunity for Stranraer and the Rhine, and in particular the development of higher value experiences that help create and sustain good jobs in our communities. The idea of the Lighthouse Trail is to incorporate these iconic landmarks into our promotion of the area and to tell the story of the Rhine through our spectacular coastal location. There’s a romance around lighthouses and there’s an excitement to visiting them. That’s what we want to capture through this project, which has been led and developed by our fantastic Gateway to Galloway hub team.
Unless otherwise indicated, visitors will be encouraged to enjoy the lighthouses from a distance since many of them are now privately owned.
Vanessa Gracie added:
“We expect these tours to be very popular with visitors, but I personally would like locals to have the opportunity to experience their local coastal heritage first, which is why we have opened up these two dates for booking before main tourism season. So many people in our communities have a connection to lighthouses and to the coast. We would love to see people share their own lighthouse stories and experiences with us on the Gateway to Galloway Facebook page, or by contacting us at the Gateway to Galloway Hub at Stranraer.
Boat and e-bike tours can be booked on the Stranraer Development Trust website: https://www.stranraerdevelopmenttrust.co.uk/lighthouse-tours.
The Phares du Rhin project was made possible thanks to funding from the Destination and Sector Marketing Fund. The £3million fund was shared among 73 beneficiaries across Scotland and it was administered by VisitScotland as part of the recovery program on behalf of the Scottish Government.