10 Things You Probably Never Knew About Auchencairn and the Surrounding Area

The village of Auchencairn on the Solway coast dates back to the 17th century.

It grew around a corn mill and smuggling was rife in the area. Nowadays, farming is a more common activity. Like many places in the region it’s surrounded by beautiful scenery.

Read on to find out more about this small village of under 400 people.

Image Copyright – www.balcary-bay-hotel.co.uk/
  1. Balcary House, which sits at the end of the Shore Road just outside of the village, dates from 1625.Depending on who you believe, it was either built by a shipping firm or from the proceeds of smuggling.

The house is now a hotel overlooking the peaceful Auchencairn Bay and Hestan Island.

Hestan Island, Copyright R.B photography

2. Hestan Island can be reached on foot by a causeway at low tide (check out tide times before setting out).

The caves there were used for storing smuggled goods and SR Crockett fictionalised it as Isle Rathan in many of his novels including The Raiders in 1894.

It is now uninhabited other than a number of seabirds, including cormorants.


The cover to novel, The Ghost Tree, by Sara Bain

3. A dead tree is all that is left of the Ringcroft of Stocking Farm where the Mackie Poltergeist wreaked havoc in 1695.

It reportedly moved cattle, set buildings on fire, wrote notes in blood and threw stones at neighbours.

An exorcism by five ministers took two weeks and they all reported spooky goings on including being gripped by ghostly fingers and having mud flung in their faces.

Thankfully there have been no reportings of the menacing poltergeist since then.


Auchencairn’s post office, Picture Credit R.Giblin

4. Auchencairn’s post office and shop opened a small tea room in March 2018.

So now you can get your stamps, a pint of milk and have a cuppa all in the same place.


Image credit R.Giblin

5. The building that houses the post office is called Heughan House.

It is named after Joseph Heughan, the village blacksmith, who was born in Auchencairn in 1837.

He was also a self-taught classical scholar, poet, writer and master craftsman.

Instead of seeking fame and fortune in the world he chose to stay in the village.

His son took over as village blacksmith and left his house and forge to the community, the proceeds of which still benefit the community to this day.

Orchardton tower, Copyright R.B photography

6. Orchardton Tower is just outside the village and is the only remaining roundhouse in Scotland.

It was built in 1455 by John Cairns, who had served the Stewart royal dynasty and Earls of Douglas in various roles.

It is now owned by Historic Environment Scotland and is free to visit.

Orcahrdton Castle, Copyright R.B photography

7. Stone and roof timbers from the ruined Orchardon Tower were used to build Orchardton Castle in 1769.

It has had many uses over the years including a military hospital during the second world war, a hotel and a residential school.

If you would like to live here you can maybe win it, as it’s a unique raffle prize, if you fancy 17 bedrooms and five acres click HERE to purchase a ticket.


The Annual Scarecrow competition being held at Auchencairn in the community garden.

8. The Beechgrove Garden, the BBC gardening programme, visited Auchencairn in 2014.

The villagers were busy transforming wasteland next to the Hass Burn into a community garden.

The new park contains an edible forest garden, an adventure play area and native plants, including Galloway Pippin apple trees.

Bengairn and Screel tower above Auchencairn Bay, Image by R.B photography

9. For keen hillwalkers, there are two nearby hills that can be reached from the village.

The summits of Screel (343m/1126ft) and Bengairn (391m/1290ft) both take a bit of effort to reach. It’s well worth it for the stunning views of the area.

On a clear day you can see for miles towards Cairnsmore and The Merrick in the west and Criffel in the East.


The last Wickerman Sculpture to have been Burned at the Festival was half bird half man. Image Copyright R.B Photography

10. Auchencairn is home to many artists, including Trevor Leat, who created the spectacular willow sculptures for the Wickerman Festivals, which used to take place along the road near Dundrennan.

The climax of each festival was the burning of the sculpture, recreating the final scene of the cult classic (thankfully without any humans or animals trapped inside).

You can often see works in progress outside his studio, along with willow drying out in the infrequent sun.

Written exclusively for DGWGO by R,Giblin