Wigtown Bay Local Nature Reserve, Newton Stewart

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Wigtown Bay Local Nature Reserve, Newton Stewart

Wigtown Bay LNR is the largest Local Nature Reserve (LNR) in Britain at just under 3000ha. It is managed by Dumfries and Galloway Council along with a management Committee of local interest groups. It was declared in 1996. It has 2 important rivers which bring fresh water into the Estuary. The River Cree protected for its Sparling and the River Bladnoch which is protected for its Spring run of Salmon. The Bay is bounded by the sea to the south. There is an extensive area of mud and sand flats bounded by Merse (saltmarsh) to the east and west. A fresh water wetland (Castle Field Wetland) has been created to allow close views of some of the bird species that use the Local Nature Reserve. This has also added an important habitat for freshwater invertebrates and amphibians.

  • Notable animal species include Pinkfoot, Greylag and Barnacle geese and Pintail, Shoveler and Wigeon as species of duck.  Notable waders include Curlew and Oystercatchers.  Otters may also be seen.
  • The Adder’s Tongue Fern is a notable rare plant species on the edge of the marsh.
  • Best In: Wigtown Bay Local Nature Reserve is great all year round. In the Winter (from November to early April) it is great for waterbirds, especially various species of Geese.  In the Summer there are breeding birds and a superb landscape to enjoy.


Bounded by Creetown in the East, Newton Stewart at the North and Wigtown in the West.
Post Code: DG8 9JH for Wigtown County Buildings.
Grid Reference: NX 560 460

How to get there

By car: the A75 runs along much of the Eastern coast from Carsluith Castle to Newton Stewart.  The western side can be seen from the A714 and the B733 (minor road).  For the Harbour hide park at Wigtown Harbour or walk from the Martyrs’ Stake car park or walk down from Wigtown town centre itself.

By bus service: use the 400  or x75 to travel from Dumfries and Stranraer to Creetown and Newton Stewart and the 415 from Newton Stewart to Wigtown.

By cycle / on foot: you can cycle right round the LNR on minor roads and cycle tracks some of which give the best views of the estuary. Sustrans National Cycle Network 7 passed through Creetown and links with local networks which travel along the LNR to Carsluith and also North to Newton Stewart from where you can follow the River Cree South again on the N73 cycle path until it reaches the Moss of Cree Road (B733) down to Wigtown.

Further South, there are great views of the LNR from the B7004 which is part of the suggested cycling network in the Machars. Many of these cycle paths are suitable for pedestrians too and in addition there are opportunities to walk alongside the LNR at Carsluith and Wigtown.

Carsluith: the quiet unclassified road which follows the LNR boundary gives a great opportunity to see waders and ducks and look out over the mudflats to Wigtown.

Wigtown: walk on an easy access path from the town or the Martyrs’ Stake car park alongside the LNR looking out over the Merse (Saltmarsh) down to Wigtown Harbour where there is a bird hide. Or Park at the Harbour and walk in the opposite direction through the town and via the grass covered Lovers Lane which has superb views of the LNR and back to the harbour. These walks are between 2 and 3 miles (3 to 5km) depending on which paths you use.


  • Castle Field Wetland has been created to offer close viewing of notable bird species both during the winter and when they are breeding in the summer.
  • A hardcore path easy access path runs through along the edge of the LNR offering views of most habitats.
  • There are 3 picnic areas at Wigtown, near the Martyrs’ Stake and Wigtown Harbour.
  • There is a bird hide with wheelchair access looking out onto both the Local Nature Reserve and Castle Field Wetland – follow the path from the car park at Wigtown Harbour.
  • Wigtown Bay LNR Visitor Centre – in Wigtown County Buildings.  This is jointly managed by Dumfries and Galloway Council and the RSPB, offering unparalleled views over the LNR and visitor information
  • .Creetown heritage Museum - managed by the Creetown Initiative this has lots of local information and information about the area.
  • There are toilets available in Wigtown County Buildings and in Creetown Local Heritage Museum.
  • School group visits and guided activities can be arranged.

Associated wildlife areas

  • Castle Field Wetland has been created by Dumfries and Galloway Council and the Wigtown Bay Wildfowlers to offer close viewing of notable bird species both during the winter and when they are breeding in the summer.

  • RSPB Crook of Baldoon Reserve, is just outside the LNR boundary.  However there are plans to incorporate this superb wildlife area into the LNR.


Dumfries and Galloway Countryside Service
Reserve Manager: Keith kirk
Mobile (daytime): 07850157661
Landline Tel. (daytime): 03033333000
Email: Keith.Kirk@dumgal.gov.uk
Website: www.lockerbie-wildlife-trust.co.uk

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Bird Hide - Wigtown Bay
Martyr's Stake - Wigtown Bay