Today started with goodbyes and thanks to our wonderful WarmShowers hosts, Warren and Esther. We had a fascinating evening eating in their garden and swapping travelling stories – and much else. There are some things that are only instinctively known or experienced by those who have travelled abroad by cycle for long periods. Our collective days cycling pales into insignificance compared to Warren and Esther’s 4 years on the road, but there were so many common experiences, including the incredible kindness of strangers.
The first 12 miles were pretty relaxing , mostly downhill and with little wind. We reached Kirkcudbright where we had arranged to meet our long standing friends, Malcolm and Pat, who were staying there for a week. They had just packed up to go home and we saw them for coffee by the quay. I recall this town featuring in Five Red Herrings, a detective story by Dorothy L Sayers which I must have read 45 years ago. It was described there as an artists’ community and retains its arty feel today, with gallaries and exhibitions alongside the coffee shops.
We were sad to say farewell to Malcolm and Pat but had a fair way to cycle that day and so were waved off as we cycled around the bay. The road followed Route 7, around the little villages of the peninsular to the East of the town. The wind was getting up and parts were hard but we got to Gatehouse of Fleet for a sandwich lunch in a small park – which may have been the gatehouse which gave the town its name. The sun was out, the riding was pleasant and the gentle rolling scenery of Galloway speaks for itself.
The next section was more of the same – and equally good. There was a significant climb on quiet roads to show us the interior of the area, and then a descent along terrible roads where the bumps nearly put us into the vegetation at the side.
We stocked up on provisions in Newton Stewart, which seemed a pleasant place, but apart from using the Co-Op, we did not linger.
The last 20km were out of the wind on a lovely valley which followed a river. Stunning scenery and a terrible road surface, which made it quite hard work. However the forest soon got us to our campsite at Glentrool. It was a lovely site but with one drawback – MIDGES!!! They were everywhere on this lovely site and, by the morning, we were bitten all over despite every effort to combat the little b******rs. The last time we cycled in Scoland we had finished by the end of May and avoided the little blighters, but this evening is was full on war (and we lost). C’est la vie.