Monday, 10 July 2017

Into the West

The other passengers on the 8.12 from Edinburgh were heading for Manchester Airport.

We were setting off for Cycle Route 7, described as 'taking you along the beautiful Solway Coast, over the hills of the Galloway forest, and to the beaches of Ayreshire, before heading into Glasgow.' It sounded irresistible...

I had a sore knee, from over-enthusiastic ceilidh dancing the previous night. Gordon was not-so-silently wondering how it was possible to do a long days cycle ride for 4 days in a row. 

We got off at Carlisle and put on a good face for the photo. 

Setting off from Carlisle

It's always slightly strange being a cyclist at a railway station

On the train

The hardest part of navigating is often finding the start of a ride.
We managed to get slightly lost in Carlisle.  

Then we kicked off the city and headed through summery lanes for the west

Leaving England

The flat area between England and Scotland was disputed territory for centuries, known as the Debatable Lands.

Break at The Devils Porridge. These quiet coastal villages had massive munitions factories in World War 1, where women mixed explosive paste by hand. Fortunately, the people serving our lunch had kitchen hygiene SVQs

This poster explains that you should run and hide if you see enemy airships

Bridge over the river Annan

Caerlaverock Castle, complete with moat and tea rooms

Well preserved, but not quite habitable

River Nith estuary, on the beautiful Solway Firth
Dumfries, a strange mixture of styles
Memorial water fountain to the man who introduced clean running water to the town

Dumfries Midtown Theatre

Dumfresians never forget the Robbie Burns legacy

At the railway station. 

I discovered you can tire of a full cooked breakfast. But the first day it's great.

Day two we woke up to rain, forecast to last all day. Worse, we had to cycle 61 miles to our next B&B, and there would be hills.

Up the steps to cross the river Nith

This was an easy decision to make

Much needed coffee and a break from the rain at cycle friendly cafe, Castle Douglas

Kirkcudbright in the rain

This cafe put bin liners over the chairs for us, and served a lovely lunch (indoors)

Old wreck on the beautiful Galloway coast

No-one else about, only us and the cows


Leaving Gatehouse of Fleet to climb through forest

Only 10 miles to go from here

Creetown, in the rain, no cafe

Finally we got to Newton Stewart, after a hard and rather frustrating day passing through beautiful coastal countryside. The rain eased up as we arrived and our landlady took all our wet gear for drying overnight.

Newton Stewart

Day 3 and we had some serious hill climbing to do through wild and empty country. Fortunately the rain had cleared and our clothes were fairly dry. 

Just setting off and I realised my back brake wasn't working. We were lucky. Kirkcowan Cycles, run by a friendly and helpful mechanic who also plays bass guitar, replaced the brake cable and got me back on the road.

The bike shop that saved me

Leaving Newton Stewart, bridge over the River Cree

We were following the river up into the Southern Uplands

We met a big lorry on this bridge

Climbing, climbing, climbing. A long climb but thankfully it wasn't too steep

Leaving Dumfries and Galloway, entering Ayrshire

Wild, remote, high country. It was exhilarating to be here

Long, steep downhill sections. I really needed those brakes

Lucky not to encounter this beast

What would it be like living in this house?

Maybole, 34 miles from our start was our first coffee stop of the day

At Maybole we lost the camera. Thanks to kind and observant staff at the Dairy Corner Cafe we later recovered it. But the rest of the photos were taken on our phones.
After Maybole we climbed up 'the Ayrshire Alps' with great views of the Isle of Arran and dropped down to Ayr, where we stayed in a rather seedy B&B. 

Day 4 saw us pedalling along past sandy beaches, crazy golf and one golf course after another.

Along the coast to Troon

Strange to pedal past Prestwick Airport

Irvine Maritime Museum , celebrating Scots language 

Gordon wanted to take these stone slabs home

Shop in Irvine, seems to offer hot rolls, ice cream, MOT's & cheap funerals!
Harbour on the river estuary at Irvine

From Irvine, the last 30 miles were mostly on tracks on disused railwaylines. Green cycleways through urban landscapes.

Black hands!
I got a puncture at Paisley. Gordon whipped the tyre off and replaced the inner tube in no time, to my great relief.
We did it! 208 miles.
Smiles of satisfaction and relief as we finish at Glasgow.

Day 1, 47 miles
Sore knee
Flat and windy
Devil’s porridge
Curry at Dumfries

Day 2, 61 miles
Rain all day long
Gordon's bike computer and phone both destroyed by water ingress
Finished at Newton Stewart (and did I mention the rain?)

Day 3, 46 miles
Brakes completely fail. Fixed at cycle shop
Huge hills
Lost camera
Finished at Ayr

Day 4, 54 miles
Coast and railway paths
Puncture at Paisley
Pathway-rage incident. Gordon has altercation with dogwalker in Paisley.
Jenny knocks down disabled pedestrian on pedestrian precinct in Glasgow.
Train home from Glasgow Queen Street.

That's all folks!       What's next.....

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