Distance: 4.6 miles if you include Rough Island or 3.5 miles if you omit it. Total Ascent: 352ft including the highest point on Rough Island. Start Grid: NX837553. Map: OS Explorer 313. Time: 2.5 hours in theory, but you’ll probably want to stop and admire the views at the many seats next to the footpaths. They are spectacular, so factor in a bit of extra time for them. The going: Mostly minor roads and clear woodland paths. The causeway to Rough Island can be muddy in places and you should wear good walking boots. Starting Point – Kippford Car Park, which is on the left as you come into the village and there are toilets there.
This is my favourite walk in the south of Scotland and no year can pass without a visit to Kippford. The best time of year is in late summer and autumn, but there’s never really a bad time to visit this lovely area. In high summer and at weekends it can be quite busy. If you plan to walk to Rough Island then check tide times as it’s only accessible two hours either side of low tide. Remember tides in the Solway are very fast and you could easily be cut off if you go at the wrong time. Rough Island is closed to visitors from 1st May to 31st July to prevent disturbance to beach nesting birds.
From the car park, follow the pavement towards the main part of the village and past the Lifeboat Station. Just past the bus shelter there is a shop and a café and the road narrows along the side of the estuary. Follow this and in a few hundred yards look out for the many figures made out of stone or driftwood beside the road. They’ve been created by a local resident and are a great attraction for children. Continue along the road and you will soon see Rough Island and the causeway leading to it. A signpost for Rockcliffe points up between houses into the woods but ignore it for the moment if you are heading for the island as you will be returning to it later.
At the Shingle beach at the end of the road, go down to the mudflats and head out to the causeway. It can be muddy in places but once on the causeway there should be no problems. On the island you will see a path towards the left of the beach, which will take you the full length of the island and up to the highest point. When you’ve enjoyed exploring the island, return the way you came back to the road, and take the path to Rockcliffe. Keep on the main path heading back down to the sea and past a house near a slipway. Don’t be side-tracked by any of the side paths. Look out for an arrow on a rock pointing to the path over a bridge and then on to a kissing gate. This will take you through a second gate and you will eventually arrive at the bay at Rockcliffe. Hopefully there will be an Ice Cream Van sitting at the bus stop in the village, and I heartily recommend you make full use of this to sit and enjoy the view while eating an ice cream.
To make your way back to Kippford, head up the hill from the bus stop and turn left at the top. This will eventually lead you to the Jubilee Path. There’s an information board giving details about a walk to the top of the Mark Hill and this is an interesting detour if you wish to add an extra 1.5 miles to your walk. If not, continue along the Jubilee Path back to Kippford. Maintain your height and don’t detour along any of the small paths leading down to the shoreline. This will eventually bring you to the houses above Kippford and you will drop down into the village next to the shop and Tea Room. There are several places for a nice lunch in the village and I’m sure you won’t need any persuasion to stop for a while and enjoy the views while having something to eat.