|Location Map ( geo)
|19.8 miles (31.9 km)
|A75, B7005, B7085, A746
|Route outline (key)
The A747 is one of the finest coastal roads in southwest Scotland, for both driveability and scenery. Along with the A746 to the east it forms the main route around the Machars peninsula.
Although not shown by any of the main mapping companies, signage on the ground and the council's road lists confirm that the route starts on the A75 at the western end of the Glenluce bypass, and follows the old A75 route through the village. Main Street is lined with brightly painted old stone properties at the western end, as it climbs slowly through the village to find newer houses, some of which are set back behind a service road opposite a park, at the eastern end. A junction with Old Portwilliam Road marks the original start point of the A747, but it now continues ahead, curving round to the right at another T junction where the old line of the A75 continues ahead. A short distance later, the route meets the A75 once more at the farther end of the bypass. This junction is a right-left dogleg across the A75 to continue south on the original alignment of the route.
South of the junction, the road crosses the bleak moorland fields of Barlockhart Moor, the verges lined with thick hedges and dry stone walls. A scattering of large farms sit along the roadside and further out in the fields. The summit of this section of the route, at 74m, comes quite early, and is followed by a long undulating drive with the sea visible on the horizon much of the way. It is about 4 miles to the coast, but the road is mainly fast and quiet, so it doesn't feel so far. As the road drops down into the tiny settlement of Auchenmalg, high hedges briefly hide the sea, but after a sweeping bend the sea is right there, the road turning between a pub and holiday park to run along the top of the rocky beach. Here, then, is the start of a superb coastal run around Luce Bay. There are no dramatic mountain backdrops or sheer cliffs - the road only rising slightly at the Rocks of Garheugh - but the wide expanse of sea and the undulating coastal escarpment make for a really enjoyable drive. Between Auchenmalg and Monreith the A746 runs on a low coastal shelf between wide pebble beaches and the gradually rising land.
The rocky shore stretches out ahead curving southwards, and there are glints and flashes of colour showing the traffic on the road far ahead, not that this is a busy road. For those wishing to pause and make a more leisurely exploration of the coast, there are plenty of laybys and parking areas, some formed from old sections of road, others just part of the rough and grassy verge. The B7005 from Wigtown joins the road at Garheugh Point, and a little further along the ruins of an old chapel stand close to the roadside. Here and there houses and cottages find small ;level spaces to enjoy tghe stunning views across the bay, with the Mull of Galloway clear to the south west, and on a clear day the Isle of Man can be seen far out in the Irish Sea. Stream tumble down precipitous gulleys cut deep into the steep escarpment above the road, but none carry much water and pass through small bridges and culverts. Another holiday park fills a little headland on the shore side of the road, briefly blocking the mesmerising views.
The only settlement of any size along the way is Port William, a quiet fishing village with a brilliant lifelike statue of a fisherman looking out to sea that has fooled many tourists into speaking to it! The approach to the village is unforgettable, the coastal shelf widens up, with small fields on the landward side of the road, and the rocky beach becomes much wider too. The village sits ahead, houses tumbling down the escarpment, which is much lower at this point, and suddenly the road opens out with parking bays along the shore. A long row of bungalows stands opposite, making the most of the views, and then as the harbour wall pokes out into the bay, older houses line both sides of the road. The houses come to an end, and the road is briefly pinched between the escarpment and the harbour below, before it widens out to a roundabout in front of the hotel and shops. Here the B7085 (formerly the A714) turns left and takes the short route over the hills to Wigtown, while the A747 turns right. Houses again line both sides of the road as it curves along the shore to a shoreside park.
The village soon comes to an end, and the road is dancing along the shore once more. It continues around Barsalloch Point, then climbs up the escarpment, with houses squeezed into little hollows on either side, as it heads inland at Monreith. At the top of the climb a double bend takes it through the tiny settlement , and just beyond one of the few sandy beaches can be accessed on an unclassified road to Point of Lag. The last section to Glasserton echoes the first from Glenluce, with bleak moors and pastoral farmland. The sea is often visible across the fields to the right at first, before disappearing behind the undulating landscape. A series of long straights carry traffic eastwards between drystone walls, passing a few scattered houses and farms, before a windier section past the farms at Craiglemine and on to Glasserton. Twice, at least, the route comes close to the 90m contour, meaning that the summit of the route is somewhere in this section.
The route terminates abruptly at a T-junction; straight ahead is an unclassified road which used to be part of the A747, leading to the Isle of Whithorn, while to the left the A746 heads north to Whithorn and Bladnoch. Although the statistics are not readily available, it seems likely that the unclassified road ahead carries more traffic than the A746, largely thanks to the tourist traffic in the summer continuing along the coast. In truth, however, none of the roads at this junction are busy as there are alternative routes which connect the larger settlements more directly, meaning that the survival of these two A roads at this point is more due to history than modern traffic flows.
All of the above route was numbered as the B735 in 1922. The A747 came into existence later in the 1920s, probably as early as 1924, running from the A75 in Glenluce to the A746 in Glasserton - in other words the same route as now apart from in Glenluce itself. At some point between 1933 and 1936 the route was extended along what had remained of the B735 to reach the A750 at Doon of Arbrack. However, this extension does not appear in any of the normal lists for 1934, 35 or 36, but is shown on the 1936 copy of the OS Ten Mile Map. Equally, it seems unlikely that it was extended any earlier than 1933, as the B735 is still shown on the 1932 edition of the map, and in a document from 1933 there is a proposal to extend it over the A746 to Whithorn. With the downgrading of the A750 to become the B7004 the A747 was cut back as well, to its original eastern end, with the extension becoming unclassified.
Most of the route is largely unchanged. There has probably been online widening in places, and some of the laybys along the coast undoubtedly show where minor realignments have been carried out. However, the western end has seen more substantial improvement. Obviously, the section through Glenluce village is the old A75, and the Lintmill Bridge junction at the eastern end is completely new, having been built with the bypass in 1989. Running south from the bypass, the road used to snake back and forth, but has been straightened, with the old road still traceable in places. The small caravan park occupies the first bend, then the old road can be seen off to the left, before re-crossing through the Quarry entrance. A little further along, a gated stretch of old road loops to the left and then crosses over to the right hand side. About a mile and a half further south, a longer loop survives past Challochmun Farm, and the final realignment comes on the descent into Auchenmalg, where the old road line is partly now the minor road to Stairhaven, although the northern connection with the new road is closed up and overgrown.