‘Much have I travell’d in the realms of gold…’

The town of Dumfries may not be the best but for the road cyclist, the nearby countryside is hard to beat!

Although I live in the Town, it takes me approximately 3-4 minutes till I’m out in the countryside on my bike. Heading west I’ve then got several route options; right up to Lochfoot and onwards along the rolling roads to Castle Douglas or down towards GlenKilln or left along Moss Road to the beautiful Solway Coast.

It’s not an overstatement to say that the countryside around Dumfries and Galloway is magnificent in all seasons. Here are some of my favourites routes starting about 40-50 miles

Criffel

  • Caerlaverock – Ruthwell – Powfoot – Hoddom – Dalton – Carencefield – not a favourite for every club rider as it’s pretty flat but this route is amazing in the winter when the migrating geese launch into flight as you spin through Kelton – the noise and the density of the massed birds is tremendous. Just at the Brow Wellyou glimpse the sea glittering between you and England. Then when you weave through the caravan park at Powfoot the coast opens up as though you’re riding on a great silver hinge. After a little grunt of a climb at Hoddom you roll along the Dumfrieshire countryside covered with hoarfrost.

    Powfoot – a flock of birds skim the water

  • The Solway Coast – Military Road – This route is a favourite with our club riders. In fact you’ll see lots of cyclists on these roads enjoying the hills! Through the village of Sweetheart Abbey and you spend the next 10 miles or so riding parallel to the coast. It’s especially amazing at high tide. If you can predict wind direction on this route you’re a genius. It defies sense! Soon you’ll hit the heughs (cliffs), a series of 3-4 punchy little climbs. Usually someone who’s feeling good takes it up at this point and then it’s time to bite the handlebars. If I get the chance I try to look over left to catch a glimpse of the Isle of Man.

If you fancy some longer miles, then there’s plenty of cycling to do in Dumfries and Galloway

  • Balmaclellan – New Galloway – Clatteringshaws – This is a great summer run, climbing up to the Loch from New Galloway. Although it’s fresh water, the loch near the Galloway Forest always looks brackish. The visitor centre does great soup and if you feel good there’s the option to descend and ride onto Loch Ken then onwards to Castle Douglas. Talking of which a couple of the Castle Douglas cyclists know some great routes. We joined them to climb up Cambret Hill (with a TV Transmitter at the top). Once your legs have recovered the scenery up there is stunning!

    Cambret Hill – Great views

  • Laurietson Moor – Gatehouse of Fleet – Kirkcudbright – Gelston. Popular in the Autumn, the first few times I cycled this route it was misty on the moor road to Gatehouse. I couldn’t believe my eyes when we cycled on a clear day and there in front of me was the Irish Sea! Cycling into Kirkudbright you then climb up towards Gelston. It’s a cracking hill with a little hairpin. Once at the top the hammer usually goes down for the run into CD.
  • Samye Ling Centre (via Boreland and Lockerbie). I would say this is the favourite long winter run in our club. Lots of hills and no matter how many times you cycle out that way, it always seems special, like an expedition. The highlight is the Samye Ling Centre itself. In the middle of the rugged Border’s countryside stands this vibrantly coloured building with huge sculptures and flags – east meets west true enough. Once you cycled into the grounds, you rub shoulders with monks in sandals and gowns. Amazing. The last time I was out that way, a local had put down a handpainted sign which read – DUCKS CROSSING – the place is a world apart.

The best run in the Dumfries and Galloway area is pretty impossible to decide. If pushed I would probably say any route round the Talla Megget reservoirs are really special. I think coming from St Mary’s Loch and heading in the Tweedsmuir direction is amazing. I remember years ago when I saw these waters for the first time. It was misty over Megget and just as we arrived at Talla, the mist cleared away. The view of Talla before descending and cycling alongside its waters seems other worldly. Dumfries CC are planning a run out to the reservoirs at the end of June…can’t wait!

‘Much have I travell’d in the realms of gold,
                                   And many goodly states and kingdoms seen…’


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