The wide shallow waters of the Solway Firth lie to the east of the main shipping channel between Northern Ireland and Scotland. As such the maritime traffic in the area has been mainly limited to fishermen and some small local trading vessels bringing goods to and from the ports of Kirkcudbrightshire and Wigtownshire.
The imposing headland of the Mull of Galloway marks the transition to the deeper and much busier waters of the North Channel where thousands of ships have plied their trade to and from the North Atlantic from the key western coast ports of Scotland and England. During the wartime years this area became a key battleground as German U-boats attempted to blockade this narrow seaway to stop key supplies from North America reaching the embattled British Isles.
Galloway’s position to the east of this channel, the prevailing onshore winds and the heavy sea traffic in the area have combined to make the west coast of the peninsula, from Corsewall Point to the Mull of Galloway a veritable graveyard for ships since records began. The sheltered expanse of Loch Ryan often provided a safe haven for ships caught in the exposed channel when the weather deteriorated. This sheltered nature, and the strategic position of the loch close to the exit to the North Atlantic, made it and obvious choice for a west coast naval base during World War II. In 1941, at the quiet village of Cairnryan, work began on the construction of a massive wharf and by the end of 1942 the base became a busy and important centre for ships patrolling the North Channel. Close by, the local population watched a top secret project to develop the Mulberry harbours used so successfully by the Allied forces at Normandy during the D-Day landings. Some remains of these operations and early trial harbours can still be seen on the shoreline near Cairnryan today. Loch Ryan was also an important land base for squadrons of Catalina and Sunderland flying boats which provided much needed air cover for the convoy ships entering and leaving the North Channel.
In modern times the port at Cairnryan has been transformed and it is now a busy ferry port with regular roll on roll off ferries shuttling back and forth between south west Scotland and Northern Ireland
Area Wreck Map