We’re restricted in how long we can get away due to my mum living with us and needing support. My brother can look after her for four days but that’s pushing the limits of how long he can escape his own responsibilities. So the dream destinations in the Highlands are a bit out of reach for us. But Dumfries and Galloway isn’t so far, we thought. Eight hours there, two days riding, eight hours back. Tiring but possible, especially if we take proper breaks rather than pushing on for as long as possible until we’ve had enough and then some. Which is my normal mode of attack!
As the time approached, I looked at the weather forecasts in ever increasing amazement. It was going to be sunny and warm! Packed waterproofs and spare gloves just in case, though. Set off around 6.25am, got through the Dartford Tunnel without issue and headed up the M11, A1 (M) and so on. The A66 runs through some beautiful countryside, especially as it gets into Cumbria.
Passed into Scotland, got on the A75 and found our static just outside Newton Stewart. Lovely lady greeted us and said her husband had a Harley, a Fatboy I think. Didn’t like the gravel drive much but she pointed out a flat bit to park on.
Considering we’d done around 465 miles, we weren’t feeling too bad. The Guzzi is comfortable and my son, Callum, had recently added a comfort seat to his Super Duke 1290GT. We settled in, ordered an Indian meal to be delivered, and checked out the next day’s route.
I had downloaded a GPX route via TomTom MyDrive from Ride Magazine’s website, having looked at Simon Weir’s guides and asked advice online and found this route covered several recommended roads. It synched to my phone and appeared to be ideal. All I had to do was set it to take me to the nearest point and set that as the start point. I now discovered you can’t do that. It will only show you the route from that point onwards. So I spent too much time in the tedious task of manually inputting a route via waypoints. It’s not difficult on a PC, but doing it directly on a phone is hard work. I achieved a decent approximation of the route, though I was to discover I’d slightly misplaced some waypoints!
The next day, we set off at around 9am – any earlier would have been unfair on the other three families staying on the site, the KTM’s exhaust note not being subtle!
We headed up the A714, which was already looking good as it headed to the Forest of Galloway. First waypoint hiccup – I’d placed one too close to a junction and TomTom Go was still telling me about the waypoint when it should have been warning me of a turning, which it then did a moment too late. I hadn’t been paying attention and though I actually recognised the road from Google Street view, I was passed it already. I thought I’d just carry on as the road was good – reasonably fast and very scenic.
After a while, we arrived at Barhill. The satnav directed me up a side road to turn round but the turning options weren’t good and I though, sod it, let’s see where this goes! It went across a cattle grid into mixed forest and moorland. Stunning, but after some time on the narrow road we came to a crossroads and I decided to get back on track.
Back down the A714 then left towards Glentrool on an unclassified road, leading deeper into the forest. As usual, I missed taking photos of some of the best bits, where the views were wide and impressive, but eventually stopped for a few pictures.
Next stop was a bit better.
We ambled along the narrow forest road, the Guzzi in its element, the KTM rumbling along behind, waiting for a chance to stretch its legs. Eventually, we reached the A713, a much faster road that was a lot of fun for several miles either side of Carsphairn. Fast, sweeping bends. Lovely.
Passed Carsfad and Earlstoun Lochs and through the quaintly named St John’s Town of Dalry, then joined the A712 all the way to Crocketford. It was getting towards lunchtime and we were planning to have our main meal now then snacks in the evening. I stopped at the first place I saw, The Galloway Arms, which is unusual for me. I usually sail past loads of places offering food and drink because I’m either going too fast to stop or just can’t decide whether I like the look of the place or not! Good food, friendly people, big bloke in a ‘Scottish not British’ shirt sitting nearby.
Short spell on the busy A75 before turning right then down the A711 in the general direction of the south coast. Less dramatic but very pleasant countryside.
We had several excellent views of the sea and some islands but I couldn’t find a good place to stop for photos. The bridge that takes the A755 over the River Dee at Kirkcudbright was an impressive structure.
We crossed the A75 again and headed along the Old Military Road. The village of Gatehouse of Fleet looked a real stunner, but we turned off onto the Laurieston Road. This was a real treat taking us through miles of forest and moorland.
After some very pleasant riding, we turned into the A762 towards New Galloway, with Loch Ken passing on the right, then onto the Queen’s Way, a decently fast road through forest and passing Loch Clatteringshaws on our way back to our holiday home.
I popped back out to pick up some shopping in Newton Stewart, which looked like a nice town with a river running through it, and we relaxed for the evening at the end of a quite tiring but good day.