A glorious day today for a bike ride - a bit too warm actually, so I had all my jacket and helmet ventilators open, which kept it bearable. For a change, I decided to head out of Galloway into Dumfriesshire and visit two of the three passes through the Lowther Hills. I rode to Dumfries and then turned north on to the A76, a fast, scenic but fairly busy road up Nithsdale. I turned right at Mennock (just south of Sanquhar) on to the minor road which leads through the Mennock Pass. The pass is long and winding, eventually climbing to reveal a view of Wanlockhead from the top. I passed a man panning for gold in the Mennock Water (yes, it’s a thing people do up there.)
At 1531 feet above sea-level, Wanlockhead is the highest village in Scotland (eat your heart out, Highlands!) Together with nearby Leadhills, it’s an old lead mining village, with many old miners’ cottages, and has a lead mining museum and a restored narrow-gauge railway linking the the two villages. Wanlockhead is rather scattered over the hillside:
while Leadhills is more compact, with more of the old terraced cottages running along back streets:
At Leadhills, I turned off across the hills and moors to Elvanfoot, beside the M74, and then turned right on to the road back to Thornhill, which, after a few miles across wild country, plunges down the Dalveen Pass into Nithsdale.
Emerging from the pass, I took a little detour along single track roads to one of my favourite villages, Durisdeer, which is almost completely unspoiled:
From Durisdeer, a few more miles took me back to the A76 at Carronbridge, and then down to Dumfries.
Taking the coast road homewards, I stopped at the Drumburn viewpoint, which has a shaded seat under the trees, to get my helmet and jacket off to cool down for a few minutes. While there, I took a notion to check a few bolts for tightness after the recent service. Seeing me with the spanners, a little old lady got out of a parked car next to me: the archetypal sweet old lady in her eighties, wearing white trousers and a lavender cardigan. She asked me if I needed help and offered to lend me her phone. I thanked her profusely, and explained that I was fine, just checking something. We spent a pleasant few minutes chatting about the lovely view, places we both knew and trips we had made, before going our separate ways. She was so kind with her offer to help that I was smiling all the rest of the way home. A super day out.