Cycling in Dumfries and Galloway
Cycling in Dumfries and Galloway
Sparsely-populated, well-forested Dumfries and Galloway is one of Britain’s great unsung regions for touring, especially cycle-camping. It really is away from it all: even on ‘main’ B-roads you might go over an hour without seeing a motor vehicle, and at night the dark unpolluted skies give the best stargazing in the UK. The scenery is often similar to the English Lakes just an hour south, but with a tiny fraction of the visitors.
Here you find Scotland’s highest village, Wanlockhead at the end of the hugely scenic climb up B979, as well as its ‘Land’s End’ – Kirkmaiden, at the southern tip of the Rhinns of Galloway. Stranraer up the road (or rather, nearby Cairnryan) has a ferry to Belfast.
Two long-distance routes take you through D&G: NCN7, through the only major town, Dumfries, and the fabulous Galloway Forest Park (the off-road section is thrilling, but you need mountain bike tyres); and NCN74 linking Gretna Green and Glasgow, much of it on the old A74, giving you the curious experience of a dual-carriageway-width cycle path.
Mountain bikers have all they could ask for, either exploring the many forest areas with a map, or at the trails-rich 7Stanes centres across the region, such as the one at Ae (Britain’s shortest placename). Family-specific trails are harder to find; this is really a region for independent travel.
So, take a map and explore the thrillingly remote scenery on the minor roads round Eskdalemuir down to Langholm, for instance. Climbs are steady, downhills a delight. A good base is in handsome Moffat, a town with splendid cafes, accommodation, pubs, camping, and the world’s narrowest hotel.
Cycling groups and clubs in Dumfries and Galloway
Dumfries and Galloway CTC (Dumfries and Galloway)
Touring and sociable activities, on and off-road riding, and campaigns locally
Port William Cycling Club (Port William)
Links to local cycle hire and repair options
Kirkcudbright Flyers (Kirkcudbright)
Wheels of Fleet at Gatehouse YMCA (Gatehouse)
Project for bike hire/repair centre to support and encourage local cycling
Dumfries Cycling Club (Dumfries)
Members take part in road, mountain bike and indoor track cycling.
Cycling Dumfries (Dumfries)
Pressing for better cycling conditions in and around the town; rides and annual bike breakfast
Paths to Freedom (Dumfries)
LGBT The Big Bike Revival event on Saturday 24 June 2017
Belles on Bikes Dumfries and Galloway (Dumfries and Galloway)
Helping get women on bikes
Annan Youth Cycling Club (Annan)
Covering most cycling disciplines with rides on Saturday mornings
What to take with you on your ride
The only thing you really need for cycling is a bike. And maybe a phone, and credit card: in Britain you’re only a call away from any service you might need.
But unless money is no object, it’s wise to take a few things with you on a day ride. A saddlebag or rear rack and panniers are best for carrying stuff. A front basket is second best. A rucksack is third best. Your sweaty back will soon tell you why.
Cycling short distances in jeans and t-shirt is fine, but on a long or strenuous ride – over ten miles say, or in hills – those jeans will rub and the t-shirt will get damp and clingy. Shorts or, yes, lycra leggings and padded shorts will be much comfier, and merino or polyester cycling tops wick away the sweat, keeping you dry and comfy. (They don’t have to be lurid colours.)
If rain’s in the air, pack a rainproof top. If it might turn chilly, take a fleece or warm top. But the thing you’re most likely to forget is the sunblock.
It’s remarkable how often you enjoy being out on the bike so much that you suddenly realise it’s getting dark. So take lights (which are legally required at night). They’re price of a sandwich, take no space, are easy to put on thanks to tool-free plastic clips, and the batteries last for ever.
Take a puncture repair kit (with tyre levers) and pump. Make sure it fits your valves, which will be either ‘Presta’ or ‘Schraeder’ – realising they don’t match is a very common roadside discovery! Carrying a spare inner tube (make sure it matches your tyre size) makes puncture repair much easier: mend the old one back at home. If you do get in trouble, some kindly passing cyclist will probably stop to help.
Using a helmet is a personal choice – they’re not legally required.
Cycling makes you thirsty, so take lots of water. Long-distance riders talk about ‘the bonk’ – a sudden loss of energy rendering you almost stationary. It’s miraculously and instantly cured by eating something sweet. On short rides you’re unlikely to run out of energy, but just in case, take a snack like flapjack, banana, chocolate or jelly babies.
Taking a packed lunch or picnic will save you money, though that hot drink and cake in a cosy cafe could yet prove very tempting!
Your phone GPS could be invaluable for showing where you are when lost; you can download free detailed UK maps and GPS software before your trip.
Paper maps are still useful, though, so take one: no power source or wifi signal required, and they’re great for suggesting possibilities or changes of plan.
What have we missed? Recommend your favourite routes using the comments box below.
Cycling routes in Dumfries and Galloway
Getting round Dumfries, 7Stanes routes, and more
Cycling events in Dumfries and Galloway
Weekly easy-paced jaunts by Cycling Dumfries in Jul and Aug for all ages
15, 50 or 75-mile route through lovely D&G countryside; entry £5-£20
30, 67 or 102-mile routes on quiet Galloway lanes; entry £25
Make sure your bike is working
(from our partners, Halfords)
Creaking cranks, wobbly wheels or slipping saddles are the last thing you want, but Halfords' guide to basic bike maintenance will keep you rolling smoothly. Whether you’re a regular commuter, a leisurely weekend rider, or prefer to tear it up on a serious MTB trail, signs of wear and tear might keep you off the saddle from time to time. Whilst we can’t promise to banish those roadside mishaps, we can help keep your bike tip top with our top tips!
You’re heading out on your lovely bike, with a pannier packed with your essentials. A glorious route lies ahead, but then you run into a spot of bother! Most of the time there are handy hacks you can do to tide you over whilst out and about, and we’ve taken a look into the most common bike problems and solutions…
Clicking saddle? Check that the bolts connecting the saddle to the seat post are not loose. Tighten until the saddle is firmly secured using an allen key from your trusty toolbox!
Squealing brakes? This could be down to dirt or oil on the brake pads. Give it a quick wipe down, then when you get home take the brake pads off and readjust.
Squeaky derailleur? A little lube should help. Remove any excess.
Creaky pedals? Dry pedal bearings, loose crank arms or a worn bottom bracket could be the culprit. Once home, remove and lube the pedal bearings, tighten and lube the crank arms, or replace the bottom bracket if it’s still making a fuss.
Some of the problems you find with your bike might need a closer look, and here’s where we can help!
Wobbling disc rotors, spongy brakes and rattling bolts needn’t be as pesky as they sound for long enough to keep you off your bike! Call and see us with your two wheels at your local Halfords, or with any other bike bothers you might have.
From as little as £15 a year, Halfords will take the labour out of looking after your bike. Halfords offer a range of care packages, they provide free fitting on all parts and accessories bought from Halfords, and even include an annual service worth £50 as part of the plan!