In September 2015 I spent a very enjoyable few days cycling in the Galloway region (specifically its western half) of southwest Scotland. It’s taken a year but here are some highlights in photos.
It’s a stunning and very underrated area, probably overlooked in favour of the Highlands and Islands, but ideal for a cycling break with its quiet roads and forest trails.
It’s also very convenient for ferry travel from Belfast to Cairnryan. Even as a foot passenger, you can easily travel onwards by bus to towns such as Newton Stewart, where bike hire is available.
Bruce’s Stone and Loch Trool: located within the massive Galloway Forest Park, the monument commemorates a victory by King Robert the Bruce against the English in 1307.
Clatteringshaws Loch: also within the Forest Park and reachable from Loch Trool via an off-road, alternate section of National Cycle Network Route 7. Puncture kit (and ability to use it) essential.
Wigtown: the main town on the Machars peninsula and Scotland’s ‘National Book Town’ since 1998. There’s a great vibe here with lots of interesting little cafe/second hand book shop hybrids. A great example of how a government initiative can transform a town.
A rural scene south of Wigtown, looking back on the Galloway Hills.
‘St. John’s Garage’: an eye-catching sight on the way into Whithorn.
Whithorn: another attractive town, near the southern end of the Machars peninsula.
Neat houses in the picturesque little fishing village of Isle of Whithorn (which is no longer an island). St. Ninian’s Tearoom is a great place to stop for a bite in the village.
View of the harbour, Isle of Whithorn.
St. Ninian’s Chapel, Isle of Whithorn: built around 1300 and dedicated to Scotland’s first missionary and saint. There are great views from here to the English Lake District and Isle of Man.
The harbour at Port William, on the western end of the Machars peninsula, with the hills of the Isle of Man visible beyond (P.S. the man on the left is a sculpture).
The Mull of Galloway, Scotland’s most southerly point, seen from near Port William.
Northwestern end of the Machars peninsula, with the Rhins of Galloway across Luce Bay on the left.
Looking down on the charming seaside village of Portpatrick. The village is only 34kms/21 miles from the County Down coast. The trail here is the start of the Southern Upland Way coast-to-coast walking route.
View across to the County Down and Antrim coasts, with the Belfast Hills beyond, taken above Portpatrick.
The County Antrim coast seen from Portpatrick: Kilroot Power Station on the left with the town of Whitehead on the right.
A view across Luce Bay back towards the Machars peninsula, taken from the hills behind Portpatrick.
Fishing boat on Luce Bay with the Machars peninsula beyond.
Approaching the Mull of Galloway and Scotland’s southernmost lighthouse. The Isle of Man is just about visible again in the distance on the right.
Descending into the town of Stranraer after a hilly cycle from Portpatrick. The town sits at the bottom of Loch Ryan.
The Galloway Hills seen from near Newton Stewart.
Some useful links:
http://www.kirkcowancycles.co.uk (bike hire/sales & maintenance in Newton Stewart – great service)