Cairnryan is a port village in
southwest Scotland - Dumfries and
Galloway, 75 miles west of Dumfries, 6 miles north of
The village is the main port for
ferries between Scotland and Ireland,
running to Belfast, and P&O
See also a large Click On Map for the
area Top Attractions.
The image top is the Stena Line Terminal
that opened in 2011. Stena had operated out of
Stranraer since 1990.
After the new terminal at Cairnryan opened,
Stena replaced their huge 18,638 ton, 415 ft
long, 40 knot jet powered HSC Stena
Voyager Catamaran ferry with the 30,285
ton, 669 ft long, 30 knot Stena Superfast
VII. This is the largest ferry operated in
Scotland with crossings taking around 2 hours
A few hundred yards south of the Stena
terminal is a large car park with great views
of the ships entering and departing the
Next to the car park is the Cairnryan
cemetery with its castellated walls. Across the
road from the cemetery is Cairnryan House and
estate from 1701. The village grew around this
Next to the cemetery is the long pier used
for scrapping ships. Some of the largest
British warships have been scrapped here such
as the aircraft carriers - 24,000 ton HMS Centaur in
1972, 26,200 ton HMS Bulwark in
1984, 36,800 ton HMS Eagle in
1978, and 53,900 ton HMS Ark Royal
In 1982, Argentina invaded the Falkland
Islands. This may have been because the UK no
longer had large aircraft carriers. They were
forced to fight the war with the 28,000 ton
HMS Hermes and
22,000 ton HMS Invincible,
that could only operate 12 sub-sonic Sea
Harrier aircraft each.
The image right is of Cairnryan centre. The
village is mainly one long street alongside
Loch Ryan with a number of cottages looking
over the loch.
At the south side of Cairnryan is the
P&O terminal and entrance to Cairnryan Caravan
P&O operate their 20,646 ton, 512ft long
Causeway on this Cairnryan to Larne route,
2 hour crossing.
The Rhinns of Galloway
Hotel/Guest House is situated about 1 mile
south of Cairnryan with views over Loch
Park is situated 4 miles south of
Cairnryan, 2 miles north of Stranraer. The park
is on the shores of Loch Ryan.
is situated 5 miles north of Cairnryan. This
small church was built in 1850 to serve workers
on the vast Glenapp Estate with
its large castle, now run as a top hotel.
The church is popular for visits with it
sitting next to the main A77 road. Behind the
church is the large Lutyenesque granite
memorial in honour of James Mackay First
Earl of Inchcape, chairman of P&O that
died in 1932.
Cairnryan village was built around Lochryan
House, completed in 1701.
The village became a popular stopover with a
number of inns for carriages on the road
between Galloway and Ayrshire. The area was
also popular with highwaymen targeting the
1940s - during World War Two, three large
piers were built for military vessels and to
build sections for Mulberry harbour's, floating
ports that were used by the allies invasion of
After the war, two of the piers were
destroyed with explosives, with the third
retained to be used by the military to dispose
of explosives in the Irish Sea.
1960s - the military pulled out of
Cairnryan, leading to the remaining long pier
being used to scrap large ships, including the
largest aircraft carries of the Royal Navy.
1973 - Townsend Thoreson began a ferry
service from Cairnryan to Larne.
1990 - Soviet submarines were scrapped at
1990s - explosives dumped in the Irish Sea
began washing up on the Galloway coast. It is
believed, the laying of an underwater gas
pipeline between Scotland and Northern Ireland
in the mid 1990s disrupted the munitions.
1998 - P&O take over the Townsend
Thoreson ferry service between Cairnryan and
2011 - Stena open their new terminal for
their ferry service between Cairnryan and
Belfast. Stena closed their terminal at
Stranraer at that time, as the Cairnryan
terminal cut six miles of the crossing.
Today - the village has a few B&Bs, two
holiday parks, and a village shop. The area
attracts more and more tourists each year with
a number of popular attractions, see the click
on map link below.