A glance at the map to the south of Ballantrae reveals a very striking geographical feature: an elongated chunk of land called the Rinns of Galloway, which has the appearance of a hammer head. The wider part to the north wraps itself around Loch Ryan, a stretch of water which has seen plenty of wartime and peacetime activity over the years. The settlement of Cairnyran on the east shore of the loch was established in the early 18th century with the construction of Lochryan House, along with housing for the workers from the Lochryan Estate. The village was transformed into a major port by the onset of World War II when the Army built three piers and a military railway link to Stranraer and the resulting facility became the No. 2 Military Port. Among the most significant activities to take place here was the building of the floating Mulberry harbours used in the D-Day landings. At the end of the war the Atlantic U-Boat fleet surrendered in Loch Ryan and was anchored in Cairnryan before being scuttled (deliberately sunk) in the North Channel as part of Operation Deadlight. There was further periodic military activity after the war until most of the infrastructure was dismantled in the early 1960s. The village then became a centre for ship breaking; the ships sent for demolition included such luminaries as the Ark Royal. By 1990 Soviet Navy submarines were being dismantled for scrap in Cairnryan. Nowadays, Cairnryan is still an important port, but with more leisurely voyages in mind. A large, modern ferry port has been built there with the purpose of providing links to Northern Ireland: Stena Line operates a service to Belfast, while P & O Irish Sea takes care of the Cairnryan to Larne route.
Map of the area.
©2009 Des Colhoun, via Wikimedia Commons