With the weather very settled, almost sunny and with little wind, if chilly, for about a week, several of the riders were keen to get out as much as possible after a poor start to the year. By 10.30am a larger than usual group of 10 had gathered at the car park in Castle Douglas. Several members from the Stranraer and Newton Stewart area joined two riders who had cycled in from Dumfries and another from Dalbeattie
For a few minutes it seemed we might have even more riders but the Stewartry Wheelers start their regular Sunday ride from CD at about 10, and we chatted briefly before going our separate ways.
After a group photo we set off along NCR7 to Haugh of Urr at a brisk pace, fortunately with nothing coming across the narrow bridge at the bottom of the hill near the Haugh to impede our progress. Several of our group had come over from the west of D&G and were unfamiliar with the area so were perhaps a bit relieved at the Haugh of Urr crossroads, we were turning right down to Dalbeattie and not climbing that dead start hill up to Hardgate – one of the banes of NCR7 (especially on a laden touring bike). We were soon through Dalbeattie, passing the High School and onto the coast road. A right turn at Barnbarroch took us down to Kippford for “elevenses” and a warm fire at The Anchor.
Before setting off again we posed at the shore wall, pictured above.
Getting going again up that hill out of Kippford lead to a few wry comments but we were soon back on the A710 heading for Sandyhills and Caulkerbush. One rider had been having trouble with a front brake rubbing, so at Sandyhills two of us temporarily separated from the main group and took the shortcut to the B793, stopping briefly to admire the cage of colourful parrots (macaws?) at Fairgirth Farm. We had passed word to the main group that we would wait at the T-junction and rejoin the ride there.
The Dumfries riders bade the group farewell at Caulkerbush and pedalled the coastal route home via New Abbey. The maladjusted front brake was reset and re-centred at the road junction and the pair got steadily colder waiting for the main group. Eventually contact was made by phone, and the whole group headed on down to Dalbeattie and the lunch stop at the Granite Kitchen where they were soon comfortably seated, tucking in to various combinations of soup, sandwiches, bacon rolls, tea and coffee. The road island opposite was littered with bikes chained to every available post
On leaving the town, the Dalbeattie riders peeled off and gave a cheery wave. The weather had dulled down a bit and we even noticed a few flakes of snow so the consensus was to head for CD and home expeditiously.
Now down to six we made good progress along the A711 to Palnackie after negotiating that single lane light controlled bridge over the Urr at the A711/745 junction. Just after Palnackie the group was now in a hurry and still too full to sample The Willow Tree café. A right turn took us onto the B736 and after a mile or so we passed Doach Wood, with its impressive tall, straight Douglas Firs. The steady climb up beside the Doach Burn was soon topped and the final stretch into CD wheeled in fine style, with the sun putting in a final appearance for the last mile or so. A good winters ride on a cold but fine day with little wind to disturb us.