Gorgeous UK beach with a tidal bird island and a lost citadel is a ‘little gem’

By Staff

Rockcliffe Beach close to Dumfries in the south west of Scotland has a tidal causeway to an island filled full of birds and is beneath a lost citadel with links to King Arthur

One of the most beautiful beaches in Scotland was home to a lost citadel with routes in the mists of British legend.

Rockcliffe is a wonderful patch of coastline in the south west of the country, 15 miles from Dumfries. Visitors can set off on a morning or afternoon saunter along the wooded coastal walkway for about three miles between the villages of Kippford and Rockcliffe. Along the way they will see cute houses, colourful plants and scampering squirrels.

It is part of a National Scenic Area and there are plenty of National Trust destinations near the beach, which welcomes dogs throughout the year. The beach itself is quite small and picturesque, surrounded by rocks and backing on to the village of Rockliffe.

A particularly fun part of a visit there involves timing a dash across the tidal causeway to Rough Island – a nature reserve which is completely cut off by the tide each day. Those hoping to see the vibrant birdlife there must check both the tide map and that they’ve arrived at the right time of the year, as the avian life is allowed to nest in peace in both May and June.

The density and beauty of the shells which can be found along the beach make it a big spot for combers who can be seen heads down trudging along the shore in search of a rare specimen.

There is also a lost, ancient citadel on the hilltop, called Mote of Mark, which is believed to date back to the 5th or 6th century.

The hillfort takes its name from Mark, King of Dumnonia, a character in the popular medieval romance of Tristan and Isolda. Over time the story of the star-crossed lovers has become part of Arthurian legend.

The hilltop site was occupied in the 5th and 6th centuries, which is roughly contemporary to the historical Tristan and the origins of the King Arthur tale. Like much to do with the story of the sword plucking royal, it is difficult to know how much – if any – of it is based in reality.

Still, archaeologists are fairly certain that the Mote of Mark was a high-status site and a fort of some importance, and perhaps linked to King Mark.

“In all likelihood, however, the Mote of Mark was simply the court of a powerful local chieftain, possibly a prince of Rheged, the kingdom that took in large parts of what is now Cumbria in England and Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland. What is very clear is that whoever lived and worked at the Mote of Mark were linked by trade to the Mediterranean and the European continent,” Britain Express writes.

However significant its historical provenance, what is clear is that those who visit the area love it. One happy beach goer recently wrote online: “This is a lovely little gem. When the tide is in, it’s brilliant for paddle boarding and when the tide is out you can walk across the sand to the island.”

Another added: “This is a beautiful bay, which has not been ruined with development and mass tourism. Parking is limited. The beach is small but a safe beach for swimming. The walks around the area are just wonderful.”

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