Cairnryan

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Cairnryan is a port village in southwest Scotland - Dumfries and Galloway, 75 miles west of Dumfries, 6 miles north of Stranraer town.

The village is the main port for ferries between Scotland and Ireland, with Stena running to Belfast, and P&O to Larne.

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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 15 minutes.

A few hundred yards south of the Stena terminal is a large car park with great views of the ships entering and departing the ports.

Next to the car park is the Cairnryan cemetery with its castellated walls. Across the road from the cemetery is Lochryan House and estate from 1701. The village grew around this estate.

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 1980.

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 Park.

P&O operate their 20,646 ton, 512ft long MV European 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 Ryan.

Ryanbay Holiday Park is situated 4 miles south of Cairnryan, 2 miles north of Stranraer. The park is on the shores of Loch Ryan.

Glenapp Church 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 History

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 travelers.

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 Europe.

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 Cairnryan.

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 Larne.

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.

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