Carrick Bay: a hidden beach in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland

Carrick Bay: a secret beach in Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland | PACK THE SUITCASES

Carrick Bay (or Carrick Shore – it varies!) is an amazing and fairly ‘secret’ beach in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. Here’s an introduction to its magic.

When I say ‘secret’, obviously it isn’t that secret if I’ve found it. But it’s hidden away and must be quite undiscovered because it’s empty every time we go. That’s secret enough for me. And given that my blog only has about four regular readers, including my mum, writing about it here is unlikely to change the ‘secret’ levels.

Visit Scotland describes it as a ‘hideaway’ from the bustle of everyday life. I think that nails it.

It lies about 10 miles from Kirkcudbright (where we always stay) and 6 miles from Gatehouse of Fleet, so it’s slap bang in the middle of the area. We’ve been going there since I was a child but only discovered Carrick Bay a few years ago. Up until then, our favourite beaches were Rockcliffe and Kippford, but now Carrick Bay (or Shore…) is definitely up there with them.

I suppose we’d never found Carrick Bay before because it’s so off the proverbial beaten track. On this visit, we only saw two other people. Other than that, it was just us and the sea. Just look at it. What a beaut.

Carrick Bay: a secret beach in Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland | PACK THE SUITCASES

The views from Carrick Bay / Shore

Because there are usually no other people around to ruin your shot, Carrick Shore is perfect for taking photos. The views are pretty special. On a nice day, it’s crystal clear for miles. It’d be such a good beach to bring your horse to (I think mine may object to the rather long journey, but if you lived locally, it’d be lovely to ride on if you could find a path onto the sand avoiding the stones).

I must point out that I was wearing this disgusting footwear combination for the beach only. And no one saw. It’s my mum’s walking boots and socks. I do not own such a monstrosity, but I didn’t want to wreck my Converse and ends of jeans scrabbling round in rockpools.

Anyway, views. Yes. Good.

Carrick Bay: a secret beach in Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland | PACK THE SUITCASES

Carrick Bay: a secret beach in Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland | PACK THE SUITCASES

Carrick Bay: a secret beach in Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland | PACK THE SUITCASES

Carrick Bay: a secret beach in Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland | PACK THE SUITCASES

Befriending crabs and other creatures on the shore

Carrick Shore is mostly sand, with a bit of shingle and some 10/10 rockpools.

Obviously the main point of any rockpool-based action is to find plenty of crabs and transfer them to the best rockpools you can find so that birds don’t get them before the tide comes in. Or is that just me?

Carrick is great for this and we found some really nice speckled crabs, big and small. But excitingly, we also managed to scoop a little fish up! Quickly took a photo of him in the bucket before freeing him again in deeper water. He seemed to enjoy his moment in front of the camera.

We also found these two weird beasts. They’re not empty crab shells. I think they might be sea urchin shells, but they were quite big and I always thought sea urchins were smaller. Curiouser and curiouser. Mermaid earrings? Answers on a postcard. Or in the comments.

Carrick Bay: a secret beach in Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland | PACK THE SUITCASES

Carrick Bay: a secret beach in Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland | PACK THE SUITCASES

Carrick Bay: a secret beach in Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland | PACK THE SUITCASES

Carrick Bay: a secret beach in Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland | PACK THE SUITCASES

Walking from Carrick Bay to Ardwell Isle

If the tide is out, you can walk to Ardwall Isle from Carrick Bay. This is the pretty little island that serves as the main view from Carrick.

Ardwall Isle is one of the Fleet Islands, in the Galloway area. Much like Rough Island in Rockcliffe, you’ll have to try not to get stranded by the tide coming in. As pretty as it is, it’s probably not worth dying for. Apparently there is an ancient burial ground there though…

We’ve not yet done the walk to Ardwell Isle but if we’re feeling more energetic next time, I think we will give it a go. Also, there are loads of gulls and other seabirds hanging out in these parts, so if you’re into wildlife, it’s perfect.

Carrick Bay: a secret beach in Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland | PACK THE SUITCASES

Free advertising for Pack The Suitcases…

Ahem. This has to happen on every sandy beach.

I wonder if anyone has ever actually found it and thought WTF is and who are these absolute coins writing it in sand everywhere from Japan to Scotland.

If you’ve actually looked up the blog from finding it on a beach somewhere, please do let me know. It would make my life.

Carrick Bay: a secret beach in Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland | PACK THE SUITCASES

Carrick Bay: a secret beach in Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland | PACK THE SUITCASES

Carrick Bay / Carrick Shore, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland: useful information

How to get there (and away)

Sadly, we break our no-driving rule when it comes to a trip to Dumfies & Galloway. To get to Carrick, we drive from Kirkcudbright and it takes about 20 minutes. There’s no carpark, so you just have to pull up on the grass. It’d be quite good for a car picnic in bad weather actually (childhood holiday nostalgia, anyone?!) because you can park facing Ardwell Isle. It’d be a nice view while you watch the rain lashing against the windscreen and eat your cheese rolls.

Where to stay

We always stay in the nearby town of Kirkcudbright, which is an ideal base for days out. There are plenty of other places to stay locally and it seems you can also stay a bit further down the beach in self-catering places if you’re into that kind of malarkey.

When to go

We went in July this time and got lucky with some 31-degree weather. As I’ve said in my other posts in this little Dumfries and Galloway series, nowhere gets too heaving with tourists. Carrick is no exception. We almost had it to ourselves for the whole morning.

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  1. My great great grandfather, Robert Davidson, apparently started the fishing at Carrick shore, I’m told he is mentioned in a book on the area. He’s the one buried in Gatehouse I mentioned in a previous post. Now the kids are older may actually get there one day instead of spending all day in Cream of Galloway!

    1. Hi, In the Carrick book, it says it was William Davidson who was the first Carrick fisherman, and he lived in a hut on the shore, caught fish in nets out on the sands, and grew produce on Carrick point. Sounds like a great life to me!!

  2. Shhhh.. don’t tell everyone about our favourite beach !! We’ve been coming here several times a year for many years now. We were here in July and August and will be back in October . We love our hidden gem. I’ve also read the book on Carrick that tells the story of the Davidson family. There are many interesting photos and stories about the Carrick shore. Well worth a read.

    1. You’re wildly overestimating the audience of my blog 😂 if Visit Scotland with their 4mil readership can write about it and it still be quiet, I think we’re safe with my pathetic reach!

      I’ll have to look the book up. Thanks!

      1. My great grandfather was the carrick fisherman, William Davidson. We have some photographs of him with his family at the hut. Carrick shore is a magical place, spent many happy days there as a child.

    2. Hi Tina, do you know the name of the book?. I made a chance remark to a colleague which resulted in us working out he was my 2nd cousin! He told me about the book but could not remember it’s name, if you know it could you let us know!

    3. A great article – and as a very lucky owner of a property on the beach at Carrick lovely to read such an enthusiastic blog. Hope we can welcome you back Tina! Best wishes from us all at Owlcote.

    1. pretty certain that’s what they are yes ………I suppose they could be earrings if you wanted the sea potato doesn’t need them anymore?……

  3. Just returned home from spending a long weekend with my family at the place I spent every Summer of my childhood, Carrick. We stopped in a gorgeous log cabin called Cluniemore, set just back off Carrick Bay. We spent hours on the beach rummaging through the rock pools with the boys, and when the tide came back in, we were back onto the rocks with the fishing gear, managing to hook a Sea Bass. Needless to say our BBQs were nothing short of Michelin star standards!

  4. I love reading your blog, I live in New Abbey, D&G and it was one of my cushions you purchased in Angels Portion, Castle Douglas, I am delighted you liked it. Keep the fab info from your travels going. Helen

    1. Oh that’s brilliant! I love that cushion! I’ve not had it out yet because it’s definitely an Autumn cushion but come 1 October, it’s going on our big armchair and it’s going to look SO good haha. Glad you like the blog. New Abbey/Sweetheart Abbey is actually my next post! x

  5. I shall look forward to that next blog, i know you will love the Abbey. I have been busy wirh more cushions for Angels Portion and New Abbey tearooms. Enjoy my cushion when the time comes. Helen

    1. We do love it. I should have the post ready by the weekend. I stupidly forgot to photograph the tearooms but we always go in when we visit. I’ll keep an eye out for the brilliant cushions on our next trip! x

  6. I am so happy that I found your blog! I’ve read every post on things to do in Dumfries. I’m from the East of Scotland and have just booked a family holiday for us in Annan. I’m embarrassed to say I know nothing about this side of my country as we would normally stay up North. I’ve put everything down you have mentioned on my holiday to do list 😊❤️ Fab blog! X

  7. Hi Caroline, What a nice blog! I came across it after reading a fictional book called ‘On Carrick Shore’ by Alex J Wright. She uses Carrick Shore as a backdrop for her story set in 1781 and I was curious to see some photos of the place.

  8. I went on holiday every year to Carrick as a child and I live in Kirkcudbright! It’s definitely a hidden gem but my ultimate favourite place with so many great memories.

  9. I’ve been a regular visitor to Carrick my whole life….57 years, and counting…..and have never found anywhere to equal the feeling of peace and calm that i get there. I still get excited about visiting the place, even for a day trip from home, and can only guess at the amount of times i’ve been up and down the A713 to get there from home!! When i was wee, we stayed in Solway Spray….no electricity, no running water, six of us staying for 2 weeks in a hut the size of a single garage… was absolute heaven on earth!! Since then we’ve stayed in a variety of different chalets (as they are called now) and have never had anything but a great time there. Just to point out a couple things……the bay opposite Ardwall is actually called Isle Mouth, the next bay you arrive at from the Knockbrex end is Carrick Bay itself, and the next bay at the other end of the track is called a variety of names….Monument Bay, Drinking Well Bay, or the wee bay!!! If you want bored as to why the first 2 names, then say and i will reply!!! Good blog, by the way!!

  10. We have just returned from our annual trip to Kirkcudbrightshire & are missing it already. Carrick Bay is wonderful, and seems to be attracting surf lovers (who were also in evidence at Brighouse Bay). Hope that this doesn’t mean that more people will stray towards the bays. For anyone wanting a slow drive with stunning views, including an official view point with bench, then the coast road from Kirkcudbright to Carrick is pretty hard to beat. Something that you don’t mention in your blog is the friendliness & laid back attitude of the people in this area. We have met so many lovely people during our stays & they add to the magic of D&G. There seems to be a mass movement from Lancashire upwards at the moment, which was a surprise, but there’s plenty of space for everyone in this quiet, unspoiled & ridiculously beautiful part of the UK. For us the amazing wildlife is one of the biggest draws, with the birds of prey at #1 on our list, closely followed by Irvings shortbread. Can’t wait to return. Love your blog too!

    1. Sounds like you had a lovely trip. I’m very jealous! It’s been a few years since I’ve been now.

      You’re right about the people. I didn’t mention it because saying how nice people are somewhere just invites comments from idiots saying ‘Actually people in xyz places are FAR nicer blah blah blah’. Haha.

      Thank you about the blog and I’m glad you like it! 🙂

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