Great night’s sleep & a really good breakfast at the Selkirk Arms. When I say the owner’s into cycling I mean in a BIG way. Even the breakfast menu had a suggested ride for the day…
The forecast for today was grim with a downpour around 1pm.
With this in mind we altered our route to a more direct one we’d done before that would be on quieter roads. The thought of wet roads, spray and big trucks did not appeal. One advantage of the poor weather was that we’d have a mega tail wind for the second time this holiday.
We set off about 9am and immediately benefited from the tail wind which blew us up the hills out of Kirkcudbright.
We followed Sustrans route 7 and made great time only stopping in Castle Douglas to see if we could find the gallery that Helen exhibits in. We did but only had time for a photo…
As we left Castle Douglas the drizzle started. It felt like we were racing the rain but with a great tail wind.
Lady luck was with us and we got back to the car in Dumfries just as the heavy rains started. Here’s our route…
As we were packing the bikes into the car I noticed that my dynamo hub was leaking grease – anyone have experience of this ?
We woke to a cold but dry day. Breakfast was a new culinary low even for us.
It was such a cullinary low that we had to stop in Wigtown for a decent breakfast. Wigtown is the bookshop capital of Scotland.
This is what Wikipedia has to say about Wigtown…
Today Wigtown is known as Scotland’s “book town” and is thus compared to Hay-on-Wye in Wales. However, in contrast to Hay-on-Wye, Wigtown’s status as a book town was planned, in order to regenerate a very depressed town (the main employers, the creamery and distillery, having closed in the 1990s), although the distillery (Bladnoch) has now re-opened and is distilling its own malt whisky. There was a national search in Scotland for a candidate town. The Wigtown Book Festival was first held in 1999 and has grown to be the second largest book festival in Scotland.
From Wigtown we had an easy cycle on quiet roads to Newton Stewart where we had some navigational fun avoiding the A75 death road. We eventually followed the Sustrans 7 cycle route to Creetown.
We refuelled with an egg sandwich and jelly babies at Creetowns only shop before a long section of wilderness to Gatehouse of Fleet.
Despite the hilly start the route to Gatehouse was great with one long section shut to motorised traffic for road works.
At Gatehouse we deviated from the SW300 route in favour of quieter roads mostly following the Sustrans route 7 again.
This took us down towards the coast and a view of the Islands of Fleet that Edna had recommended. A beautiful area well worth a visit.
The next stop was Borgue for Jelly Babies and then Kirkcudbright where we’re treating ourselves to a night in the Selkirk Arms.
The Selkirk Arms is great. We were met by a guy who said the staff are all cycling mad. They were really helpful, gave us route info and even carried our bags to the room – I must have looked fucked !
Here’s us dressed for dinner in the clothes we slept in last night…
I think we’ll be back here for a weekend cycling sometime soon 👍
Awoke from our first night under canvas to a beautiful sunrise…
What the picture didn’t show was that it was a really cold morning and blowing a gale. Coffee and an army veg breakfast got us going & we were on the road by 9am.
Today’s story is about the tail wind we had for most of the day. Never in all my years cycling have I had such wind assistance ~25mph tail wind all the way to Isle of Whithorn. We flew… One of the many Strava segments shows us averaging over 17mph fully laden with tents etc… and that was without trying !
We must be getting slightly fitted because we overtook two other cycle tourists who were B&Bing ie. had minimal luggage. 😊
The route today had us on quiet roads with some stunning scenery. The sun even came out for a while…
After the Isle of Whithorn the wind wasn’t with us anymore but it wasn’t against us either which was what we’d feared – we thought there had to be a penance for 30 miles of tailwind !
We called through Garlieston to get our evening meal and saw this…
Desasters: 1 …one big one – we forgot to buy some booze for the evening meal 😭
The day started well because we couldn’t hear rain on the windows 🙂 After showering in our plastic shower cubicle we went down to see what breakfast had been left out for us.
We found an old Tupperware box with four slices of bread, a half eaten block of cheese, some plastic ham and a tomato. Say no more…
By the time we’d packed and were ready to go the landlady surfaced to say goodbye. It seemed we were the only guests in what we christened Faulty Towers.
We left town on the busy A77 but the route soon turned off onto the slightly quieter A714. We followed the A714 to Barhill where we stopped for some food in a small convenience store / cafe. The owner was ex-services from Essex. We chatted with him about our route and about the lack of shops where we were going. There wasn’t much in his shop but we brought food for the evening.
The route from Barhill was much quieter over high fell land (so a fair bit of ascent). A really pretty route but was slightly spoiled by rain.
The route gently decended to Glenluce Abby where we had some lunch in light drizzle. From the Abby it was a quick run to the coast.
We then followed the coast road round to Ardwell where we were going to pitch the tent and then ride to the tip of Mull of Galloway without luggage.
This plan went to rat shit. We pitched the tent, had a brew and then we were both too tired to continue riding. Just CBA…
The campsite is right on the beach. It was windy so we used a boat for shelter.
Showers then food. Now when i said the shop didn’t have much in we ended up with Sarah having Uncle Bens rice and a tin of mackerel and I had a Pot Noodle and a cold steak pie. But after 40 hilly miles it tasted great.
Pudding was an army “boil in the bag” chocolate pudding. They look like shit (literally) but taste great.
The only thing we forgot was some booze. A nice bottle of red would have washed that lot down nicely…
Disasters: whole day really…. well apart from the evening meal that was very pleasant…
Lazy start today. Like the Tour de France we’re having a rest day. The forecast is miserable so we thought a day off was called for.
Though in true Sarah style a rest day actually means a 20ish mile cycle to electric brae which is an optical illusion on the A719 not far from Trumps golf course. Funnily she didn’t fancy my suggestion of an all day session 🤔🍺🍺🍺
Breakfast was ok but the landlady couldn’t half talk… (again got her life story – starting to see a pattern here…) By the time we’d finished breakfast and kitted up in waterproofs it was about 11am. We set off in drizzle towards the A77, our road to the electric brae.
We quickly found the A77 miserable with heavy fast traffic. After one near miss with a van and trailer we got off and walked up the grass verge to the first road off the A77. Hearing locked wheels skidding behind you and then seeing a trailer snaking as it passes you is no fun !
We then used a back road to get to Turnbury and cycled passed Trumps golf course. I was going to get Sazz to video me standing at the sign pointing at “Trump” and making a “wanker” gesture with my other hand. I didn’t because there was a large man in a kilt guarding the entrance. If he was one of Trumps boys I might be mistaken for a black man & shot in the back. What devision and hatred that man has created. Grrr rant over
After Trump we stopped for lunch at Maidens and looked at our route. The only way to electric brae was down another A road – even Sarah didn’t fancy it ! We devised a quieter route home on quiet country lanes. A more pleasent journey home… We tried for a selfie but the rain had other ideas…
Having not made it to electric brae I’ve copied a little bit of info from Wikipedia…
Electic Brae:Though the road appears to be running uphill, a suitably free-running vehicle will slowly move off from a standstill. It was widely believed that vehicles were being propelled uphill by a mysterious magnetic force, but the road’s apparently uphill slope is an optical illusion. This runs the quarter mile from the bend overlooking Croy railway viaduct in the west to the wooded Craigencroy Glen to the east. Whilst there is this slope of 1 in 86 upwards from the bend to the Glen, the configuration of the land on either side of the road provides an optical illusion making it look as if the slope is going the other way. Therefore, a stationary car on the road with the brakes off will appear to move slowly uphill.
There are hundreds of gravity hills around the world. The explanation often given for the phenomenon is that of a visual illusion, similar to the well-known Ames room, in which balls can appear to roll against gravity
We were greeted by out talkative landlady the moment we returned. She offered to dry our wet gear. Very nice of her but, as we discovered later this was because there was no heating on in the hotel !
We asked about an earlier breakfast as we wanted to be on the road early tomorrow. I thought she’d say “oh what time do you want breakfast – no problem” instead she said she’d leave something out as she doesn’t get up till 8:30… As compensation she did knock a whole tenna off the bill !
Now if you don’t know Girvan its no exaggeration to say it’s a little run down. This didn’t fill us with hope for fine dining but TripAdvisor did list a couple of options that weren’t chippies or takeaways.
We fancied the Auld Aquaintance Fusion Bistro & a booking was made. It was a small place run by a husband and wife couple. They made us very welcome but I did have to go down the road to the CostCutter to get some booze. They were eager to please and the curries we ordered were freshly made to our liking. Now I like to think of myself as a bit of an onion bhaji connoisseur and these hit the spot. So worth a visit if you ever find yourself in Girvan.
We’re now in bed hoping that the rain and howling wind stops before tomorrow else we may be getting the train home…
Disasters: 0 (actually there was one but Sarah says no one will want to read about it 🤢🌲💩)
After a hard ride it can be a lottery on getting a good night’s sleep. Last night wasn’t great. Exercise, food and a couple of beers – you’d think it was a recipe for a brilliant night’s sleep but it doesn’t always work that way – anyone understand why ???
Waking early allowed time for planning. All forecasts say heavy rain tomorrow so we decided to hotel in Grivan for the next two nights. This would allow us to spend the rainy day in Girvan. We booked the Westcliffe Hotel over the phone.
We went for breakfast at 7:30am, and what a breakfast it was ! Porridge followed by a full Scottish – eggs, beans, mushrooms, fried bread, haggis, 4 rashes of bacon and 4 sausages ! Lovely breakfast but she could talk – we didn’t get out of breakfast till 9am having heard her entire family history and quite a bit about sheep !
The route from Sanquhar was lovely quiet roads until the section on the A76 which was no fun. We put a detour in as soon as we could just to get off it. Our detour took us the rest of the way to New Crummock where we stopped at a shop for water.
From New Cumnock we followed a quiet but hilly route towards the coast and were blessed with sunshine again. We stopped at a pub in Straiton for a refreshing pint in the Black Bull beer garden.
From Straiton it was only 14 miles to Grivan where we easily found our hotel. We showered and went for a walk around the harbour and seafront in the sunshine.
Fish and chips from Grazianos were massive.
While eating we watched the sun set behind the island of Ailsa Craig.
A little bit of info on AilsaCraig….
Aisle Craig is an island 10 miles west of Grivan. It is 4 km (2.5 mi) in circumference and rises to a height of 340 m (1,120 ft).
Likened by many to a giant currant bun on account of its near-vertical sides and rounded peak, Ailsa Craig (meaning “Fairy Rock” in Gaelic) is a place of history, folklore and legend. It’s also known as Paddy’s Milestone because it lies almost halfway between Belfast and Glasgow, occupying a lonely spot 10 miles to the west of the town of Girvan in the Firth of Clyde that once made it a haven for smugglers who stashed silk, spirits, tobacco and other contraband in the deep caves on its western fringes.
Disasters: 0 (though for a few minutes Sarah thought she’d only packed one shoe 🤣🤣🤣)
Saturday started early with a drive to Dumfries. We parked at the train station where the sign showed much rates for non-rail users and told us to pay in the ticket office.
On requesrting a weeks parking the really friendly guy in the ticket office asked if we were rail users. Dilemma time – do I lie or be honest ? The difference is 50p a day for rail users or £5 for non-rail users – a considerable difference that can be measured in multiple pints of beer and a curry !
I was honest for two reasons – 1. I’m crap at lying and 2. I was dressed head to toe in my best mamil lycra – a bit of a give away really !
The guy looked at me and said “I’ll put you through as a rail user” 😲 RESULT £3.50 rather than £35. What a lovely man and went (I felt) a little way to redress the shit service I’ve had on railways (in the UK) since the demise of British Rail.
The route out of Dumfries was easy and lead onto quiet undulating roads – pleasent cycling though it was taking a while to get used to the handling of a flexible steel Dawes that weighed as much as the sun !
The only thing of note before Thornhill was the number of Red Kites we saw. Beautiful birds…
We dropped into Thornhill for lunch at the Drumlanrig Restaurant. Pleasent staff but a standard “Scottish toastie” with no salad, a few chips and served with thin & flexible metal cutlery. Not great but fuelled us for the next leg of the journey…
While waiting for our toastie we looked at the route and decided it could be improved by missing the A76 section in favour of a visit to Drumlanrig castle. This we did…
Next dilemma was…. 1. Head streight to Sanquhar or 2. Follow the route which does a big loop out to Elvanfoot over some big fuck off hills… we followed the route!
The route out to Elvanfoot rose gently with some lovely scenery to the Dalveen Pass and then levelled slightly to Elvanfoot where we stopped for a Marmite sandwich.
From Elvanfoot the route went to Leadhills and Wanlockshead which is the highest village in Scotland at 1531 feet. We did notice a number to people gold panning in the small rivers !
At Wanlockshead the weather changed to a headwind + rain – joy… The gradient also changed to a negative one for a long run down to Mennock. This descent would have been great on an unladen road bike in the dry but the wind and rain made it tricky. Just before Mennock tgrte was a large wild camp site with about 20ish tents & vans.
From Mennock it was an easy run to our digs for the night at Newark Farm B&B. We were greated by an elderly lady who pointed an infraread thermometer at our heads. Now this was worrying as we’d just cycled there and were sweaty hot ! Luckly we got the “green light” and were allowed in only to be warned about the big fuck off angry Great Dane that really would just attack if it got out !
The room is nice but dated. The old woman booked us a table at the Nithsdale restaurant and drove us there ! Pleasent food, a couple of pints and we were ready for bed – night all…