A View of the British Empire, More Especially Scotland, with Proposals for the  Improvement of that Country etc etc. By John Knox . Published in 1785 at London.

On leaving this agreeable town (Dumfries), by the Port Patrick road, we cross the Nith over a bridge of 9 arches, and enter the shire of Kirkcudbright, which, with that of Wigtown, composed the antient province of Galloway, a name still retained by the natives and their neighbours. It gave its name to a numerous breed of small stout horses raised in this country, though now applied indiscriminately to all horses of that size.

The Earl of Hillsborough, preferring the passage by Port Patrick, was the chief promoter of this road, for which the whole country is under the greatest obligations to his lordship. Previous to this improvement, Galloway was little known; the old descriptions given by Buchannan, Boethius, and other writers are extremely defective; no traveller hath attempted a modern account, and of the coast, after leaving the main road to Port Patrick we are almost entirely in the dark. I was therefore desirous to visit these unknown shores, and to follow the directions of the capes and bays, however inconvenient, either on horseback or on foot.

The ascent of the road, after crossing the bridge, affords a rich prospect of the windings of the Nith, through an extensive well-improved country, bounded on the north by mountains, but open on the east, as far as the eye can reach, the nearest mountains on that side being the west end of the Cheviots. Having reached the summit, we enter upon an open moorish country, and have a distant view of England as far as St. Bee's Head, near Whitehaven, the most westerly land in that division of the kingdom.

At the distance of 15 miles from Dumfries we arrive at Carlingwork, a small village, situated between the river Orr (Urr), on the east, and the Dee, on the west. These rivers approach within 8 miles of each other, and both of them being navigable for craft, it is proposed to join them by a small canal, which is already begun at the expense of the proprietors of the lands, and when completed, will realize many acres of very improveable ground.

At this place I left the main road, and took a southern course for Kirkcudbright, the shire town, and formerly a considerable trading port, at present the seat of poverty and indigence. It stands on the east side of the Dee, where ships of considerable burden may lie in perfect security from all winds. The bay that forms the entrance of this river gave shelter to King William's armament during the Irish wars, and is honoured with the residence of the earl of Selkirk, whose seat and gardens it environs at high tides. From this place the country is various, to Gatehouse, a small village on the river Fleet, which falls into a bay of the same name, but without trade of any kind. This place is accommodated with an inn, not only commodious, but elegant ; and here it may be proper to remark, that the whole cross country from Berwick to Gatehouse, is furnished with inns and stabling equal to those of England in their appearance, and greatly superior in the quality of their wines and liquors.

From Gatehouse to Creetown, the best and most agreeable road lies close upon the shore. It is a fine level coast, lined with gentlemens seats on one side, and enriched with sea views on the other. But the shortest way is through the moors, where a military road hath lately been formed, with little judgment, over hills and mountains by which the cattle are fatigued, the passengers disgusted, and the journey unnecessarily protracted.

Creetown is a small village on the east side of Wigtown bay, near the mouth of the river Cree, which is navigable some miles higher, to Carty port, near Newton Stewart, a considerable village, pleasantly situated in a fertile country, abounding with all the real necessaries of life, particularly extensive woods of full-grown trees, which overhang the banks of the Cree, and the waters which fall into it from the north.

The above article contains a reference to the Earl of Hillsborough and his influence on the making of the Portpatrick road. In a book entitled The history of progress in Great Britain by Robert Kemp Philp, published in 1859 we find the following:

Sir Alexander Gordon, of Culvenan, in Scotland, giving evidence before a Parliamentary Committee, in 1808, stated that in the year 1758 there were no made roads in the two counties of Galloway, Scotland; that there were only four or five carriages for travelling, and about twice as many carts, and no inland trade except in cattle. "About fifty years ago," he said, "the Marquis of Downshire (The 1st Earl of Hillborough) was travelling through Galloway, having labourers with their tools attending his coach, which was then a necessary part of the retinue; but notwithstanding that precaution, his Lordship and family were obliged to send away their attendants, and to pass a night in his coach, upon the Corse of Slakes, a hill three miles from the village of Creetown. That event was the cause of consultation between his Lordship and the Duke of Queensberry, and other noblemen and gentlemen of the neighbourhood; and forty-seven or forty-eight years ago, Colonel Rixon was sent by Government, with a large party of soldiers, to make a road through these counties and Dumfries."