Missing links: Holywood and Ellisland

This is the latest in our series of detailed ‘missing links’ posts as we explore the gaps in the active travel network in and around Dumfries. Coming in no particular order (as we manage to write them up) we continue with another community that is so close to being well connected, but just isn’t quite there.

Holywood is around 4 miles from the centre of Dumfries, only a little further than Locharbriggs is. As well as people living there, there is the primary school taking children from beyond the immediate area of Holywood. This could be a quick win, as there is an existing footway along the A76. At the moment it is a shared footpath (for pedestrians and cyclists) only as far as New Bridge. From here to Holywood the footway is for pedestrians only, meaning technically people shouldn’t cycle on it.  

A76 road and shared use path.

This footway could be widened for the half a mile to Holywood, creating a traffic free and direct route to and from the town.

Ideally the existing shared use path would be better maintained. Broken glass is a common problem on this stretch as well as large muddy puddles in wet weather. The various access points could also be improved by giving people on foot and bikes priority. Having dropped kerbs round the corners makes navigating on a tandem, trike, or adapted cycle more difficult. A raised table crossing (similar to the photo below) is a great way to do this.

An alternative route entirely uses the A75 bypass as a bridge to cross the river from Nunholm to the Gullyhill road bringing you into Holywood from the south east. Using the A75 as a crossing is only really possible on foot as it involves pushing a bike up to the bypass on a steep, stepped footpath and crossing the crash barrier on each side. This is also a very narrow path and due to the nature of the A75, quite unpleasant as a person is buffeted by every passing lorry. 

A75 route map

With the addition of a ramped crossing up to the bypass this could be a viable route for more people. It is however an unlit route, whereas the A76 is lit as far as New Bridge. 

Looking further up the road, Ellisland is a short ride from Holywood through lovely countryside.  Being one of the homes of Robert Burns, we’re including Ellisland as extending the route to here is a good tourist opportunity. The route takes in the back roads from Holywood but the last half mile on the A76 is unavoidable. This road has fast traffic and puts off many a person on a bike. 

A76 road

So close but yet so far – from the Ellisland turn, the Holywood road is just around the corner

It may be possible to put in a shared use path alongside the A76  from where the back road from Holywood comes out, all the way to the track to Ellisland. Or maybe there’s a cross country route that could be explored? A riverside route linking to Friars Carse would add even more scope for leisure and tourism rides and link up to the road to Allanton, opening up even more routes for journeys by bike.

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