I knew this day was going to be a long one and that I could well ‘run out’ of time, but I deliberately started the day with the intention to relax and enjoy it in an unhurried way. No point in racing though things, that wasn’t the point of the trip. So with that in mind I went for a short stroll after breakfast down the lane around the corner from the inn.
The chilly air blew the cobwebs out my head and made me realise that the riding jeans and leather jacket weren’t going to get much use this trip, good job my new Oxford Mondial suit had proved comfortable the previous day.
After setting off I had only gone one mile before I was stopping again to take snaps.
I was bimbling along the valley soaking up the scenery and stopped a few more times to try and ‘capture’ it in a picture. I soon came to the realisation that I wouldn’t be making the needed progress if I kept doing this, so resolved to ration the picture taking and just enjoy the ride.
I got to the A road that passes by St Mary’s Loch and turned out onto it behind a bronze coloured Guzzi that was doing about 40mph, that seems about right to me, so I ended up following behind most of the way to Moffat. Occasionally playing leapfrog as we each stopped to take pictures.
Once at Moffat satnav tried to get me to turn onto the motorway but I realised just in time and turned off the roundabout the junction before onto the A road that runs parallel to it northwards. No point in riding on roads with other traffic if you don’t have to
The clouds were getting rather thick now and I felt somewhat aggrieved as I had been enjoying the sun, but after turning west at Elvanfoot I finally gave in to the inevitable and stopped to put a jumper on. Two minutes after setting off again though I escaped into the sunshine and got to enjoy the Dalveen Pass.
When I go to Thornhill I was hoping for a break from riding but on pulling up outside ‘The Tea Room’ I saw it was a bakers doing takeaway hot drinks so I continued on to Moniaive through a now more pastoral landscape.
The other likely refreshment stops I passed seemed to be either shut or out of business so I decided I’d have to resort getting supplies at my next petrol stop. I was now in a sort of hurrying-up so I could rest mode, and the road between Moniaive and St John’s Town is one of the twistiest I’ve been down anywhere, so ended up having fun flicking the bike from side to side as I made progress without any danger of approaching the speed limit.
After refuelling and getting lunch supplies at the garage I headed south on the A762 by Loch Ken looking for somewhere I could rest and eat. It was about half an hour until I finally found a picnic bench after turning off onto the forest road to Gatehouse of Fleet.
My back was beginning to complain of the punishment it was getting so I rested here for a while, under what seemed to be a persistent cloud bank hiding the sun. It was now going up 2pm and I wasn’t even half way around my loop and I had thoughts of how to cut the journey short. With now being about the furthest west I would be there wasn’t an obvious short-cut. I decided to re-assess at Newton Stewart and headed off again.
On leaving the forest I was into sunny moorland again, and the vegetation had a not quite real colour and texture that made me think of tiger skin.
I was taking it at an easy pace to save my back, but on leaving Gatehouse of Fleet I still found the B road to Creetown rather punishing, though once on the A75 I had the relief of a smooth major route and with the warm sun my mood lifted so I dismissed thoughts of trying to cut the route short.
I was very glad I did, because from now the roads were rather good. Even turning off again into the north part of the Galloway Forest I found smooth new looking road surface and had a sedate cruise on the empty roads. Decided to stop for a another break, just to admire the views (and eat some chocolate )
The road soon turned even better, into billiard table smooth, gently undulating tarmac, my back was in heaven There was a stiff wind though as it was more exposed, that kept me alert on the narrow single track road.
On leaving the park, my planned route was intended just as a means of getting to the next scenic bit, but I unexpected found I had more quiet and good roads across hills, and still in sunshine, a very pleasant ride. Until I got to the A76 that is and turned south directly into the rather strong wind. I had to resort to a probably silly looking racing tuck to stick to the 50-60 mph I needed to make good progress.
The Mennock Pass was sheltered though.
as was the valley road to get back to Elvansfoot where there’s the infrastructure making use of that wind.
It was now after 5pm and I still had more than an hours riding to get back to the inn, so there was no dawdling and only stop was for fuel.
Finally, after 240 miles I had earned a pint.
I was totally knackered and if there was space could have curled up next to the cat