The weather promised a fresh to strong south-west wind with sunshine and showers for Dumfries and Galloway Cyclist Touring Club ride from Ardwell to the Mull of Galloway. And it didn’t disappoint.
Just before the scheduled departure time of 1.30pm, the riders found themselves sheltering from a short but heavy shower, but this soon gave way to bright sunshine and we were on our way at a steady pace bound for Port Logan with its impressive harbour wall and lighthouse.
The first pier built in this bay dates from 1680, the work of Robert McDowall of Logan. By the 1790s this was in ruins. Improvements suggested in a report by Thomas Telford (1809) were implemented in 1818 largely at the expense of Colonel Andrew McDowall. The pier and lighthouse underwent further repair and refurbishment back in the 1980s.
Another shower forced us to seek shelter for a few minutes in the nearby bus shelter. Once again the sunshine soon returned.
Leaving Port Logan, we continued along the B7065 which heads up the hill at the side of the Port Logan Inn and lead us to the summit of Inchmulloch Hill. We were then treated to the exhilarating descent of Garrochtrie Brae before another climb up to Kirkmaiden with its parish church dating from 1638. Our arrival coincided with the bell being rung to celebrate the wedding of Mr and Mrs Swindells, who were just emerging from the church. With most of the wedding party gathered around the entrance, we slipped in via the rear door to see the flower festival, a fine celebration of floral decorations adorning the kirk furniture to commemorate the 375th anniversary of the church.
With the thought of refreshments, we pressed on to Damnaglaur from where we enjoyed a gentle undulating run down towards the Mull. Gentle, that is, until the sting in the tail – the short but steep climb up to the Gallie Craig tea room. One of our members, being ever the gentleman, opted to accompany our lady member by walking the last section before enjoying coffee and a cake.
While in the cafe, we were joined by another cyclist who arrived just in time to avoid the heaviest squally shower of the day. The tail end of this gave us a very scary descent on leaving the Mull, as the strong winds were buffeting us from one side of the road to the other. By the time we reached the cattle grid at East and West Tarbet, however, we were once again bathed in sunshine. En route back to Damnaglaur we came across a chaffinch in the roadway that appeared to either exhausted or stunned as it allowed us pick it up and move it to a place of safety.
Our mercy mission complete, we continued on to Drummore to visit the harbour area. We turned left along Shore Street to gain access to the “low road”. Once the main road into Drummore, it is now just a cycle and walkway, which has just recently benefited from a Capacity for Change Leader Project and now boasts a new gateway garden and numerous palm trees.
By the time we returned to the car park in Ardwell we had covered the 22 miles in a very leisurely six hours.
And we were lucky to have dodged all those showers.
Text and pictures: Bob Rostock