A sharp overnight frost and a crisp cold morning greeted the participants on our first magical history tour – perfect autumn cycling weather. Half-a-dozen well-wrapped up cyclists met at 10:30 at the museum for a brief chat from Fiona Wilson, Museums Access Officer, before setting off on our tour of the docks around the Nith.
As we crossed the suspension bridge, Fiona pointed out how the river had been narrowed and deepened to make Dumfries – once considered the Liverpool of the north – a viable port. Passing into Dock Park we also spotted the granite bollards where ships had once been moored – and the old benches from the original Infirmary. Then it was up through Castledykes Park and the Crichton (taking the hills at a very easy pace) to the Bankend Road. With the sun shining and the wind at our backs (as we discovered when we turned for home) people soon warmed up and the road was quiet enough to cycle and chat as we went.
We then turned and cut up and over the sharp hill – stopping at the top to admire the views in all directions – before dropping into Glencaple. Fiona pointed out where the Bog Dock for New Abbey would (roughly) have been but in a biting wind, the attractions of the excellent new community-run cafe soon made themselves heard and we made an impromptu stop for coffee and bacon rolls.
The ride back was along the slightly busier Glencaple Road, which made for a less sociable experience, although on the whole the cars passed the group with care. We paused at Kingholm Quay – the only really working dock, albeit just for leisure boats at the moment – and then back along the Nith to the Kirkpatrick Macmillan Bridge and back to the museum via Troqueer.
The museum had done us proud with hot tea and coffee and biscuits waiting for us and a chance to chat some more about cycling and other matters. In all, an enjoyable and sociable day out. You can see our route on the Down the Docks page (which will be updated with some of the historical information shortly) and if it sounds like fun you can join us on the next one, Saturday 24th November when we’ll be exploring the area around Irongray.