Kirkcudbright to Newton Stewart

We left the Anchorlee Guest House shortly before 10 a.m. in bright sunshine. We crossed the river Dee and headed south, the estuary widening to our left. As ever when riding next to Scottish beaches, I kept an eye out for otters but of course there was none. We climbed into Borgue but the pub, which claims to serve tea and cake, isn’t open on a Tuesday, so we didn’t stop there. We carried on along the west side of the peninsula, heading north, and noticed how much stronger the wind had become now that we were against it.

Something called Cream o’ Galloway appeared on the Garmin’s screen and we thought that an establishment thus named ought to sell tea and cake. So it did, but as a working farm selling tickets to the city-dwelling masses so that they can see what a cow looks like and hopefully understand that cows give ice cream, it was crowded with the hoi-polloi.

When we emerged the wind was stronger still and several times we simply ground to a halt. After two miles or so of very hard work, NCN7 left the road and dived through a wood towards the Gatehouse of Fleet, which gave us some very welcome respite from the vicious headwind. Just before we reached the pub for lunch, we were treated to a bout of hail.

We emerged from the pub around 2.30 into rain. Given the remote nature of the next few miles, we invested in a few calories in the form of fig rolls and then continued our northward trudge along NCN7. The countryside was wild and magnificent, even though we were scarcely higher than some of the roads we regularly cycle in Essex, and as we climbed so the rain turned to snow. Mostly we suffered a headwind but, more and more, as we turned towards the west, so we had a cross-wind which would batter the panniers like sails. On one occasion I involuntarily left the road, fortunately at a point where a flat gravel area saved me from something more embarrassing or dangerous.

Eventually we reached the summit and then began a lengthy descent, almost 4 miles of it. Now we were on the north side of the hill, we could see how much the snow was settling above us – a stark contrast to the balmy days this area was enjoying only a week ago. We reached Creetown, which looked pretty scruffy, so we didn’t stop, but joined what would once have been the A75, a wide frost-pocked road carrying little traffic but what there was was too fast. Shortly we found our way onto the disused railway which serves as NCN 7.

For the first time, I began to feel cold, which was quite remarkable considering how long we’d been cycling in heavy snow. My fingers were becoming painful with cold, but the rest of me was warm and dry, a fact that I put down to the excellence of the Paramo jacket.

Eventually, at around 6 p.m., we arrived at the B & B, 36 or so miles covered in about 5 hours’ cycling. After a quick cup of tea we found the nearest eatery and ate.

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