The weekend of cycling started at New Abbey just south of Dumfries, in south-west Scotland on the A710. It had taken us just over two and a half hours driving the 130 miles to get there from central Scotland. To save time we had mounted the bikes on the car rack the night before so all I had to take with me was my handle bar bag, rear rack bag and two water bottles when I got picked up at 8am.
Despite the forecast saying it would be a rain free weekend, we kept passing through showers on our route south
New Abbey is home of the ruins of Sweetheart (Dulce Cor) Abbey once a Cistercian Abbey founded by Lady Dervorgilla of Galloway following the death of her beloved husband John Balliol in 1273. Apparently she carried Balliol’s embalmed heart around with her all the time until her death in 1289 when she was buried in front of the High Altar still clutching the heart to her breast. The ruins are looked after by Historic Scotland now and there is a charge if you want to look around them.
We were keen to get going though so after a quick takeaway coffee from the cafe just opposite the Abbey we headed along the A710 on our bikes. Despite the A710 being a coastal road, it doesn’t actually go along the shore and it wouldn’t be until near the end of the day when we would actually have a stop where we could touch the sea. Despite the grey clouds we still had some nice views though.
We had planned to stop for a riverside lunch in Dalbeattie but couldn’t find anywhere to our liking, so we carried on out of town along the A711 and ended up sharing lunch in a field with three cows (though they only appeared when we were closing the gate to leave). Our next stop was Palnackie, a port since 1660’s once an important port for Castle Douglas until it was usurped by the railway line built in 1861.
Further along the A711 we came across the wickerman, once highlight of the music festival held near Dundrennan but cancelled forever last year.
We stopped for a wonderful afternoon tea at Dundrennan itself before having a quick visit of another Cistercian Abbey, Dundrennan Abbey was the last place in Scotland that Mary Queen of Scots rested before seeking safety with cousin Queen Elizabeth of England who eventually beheaded Mary.
We finally get down to the seaside (well estuaryside) at Mutehill after a lovely swish down the hill.
After passing through the busy town of Kirkcudbright we crossed the River Dee and headed up hill along the A755. We crossed the A75 and descended into Gatehouse of Fleet and our overnight stay.
We had cycled 73.4km with 664m of ascent (according to my Strava app) and I was looking forward to having a rest.