Crichton Challenge conquered (with bubbles to celebrate)

The day dawned dreich, but the sun appeared in time for the ride start at 2pm. A select group arrived to take on the challenge of The Crichton, a new route for this year.

Enjoying the sunshine before heading off

From the park, busy with bouncy castles and live music at the bandstand, we tackled climb one, up through Castle Dykes Park. We took a little detour down to the quarry garden to admire the recently restored painting and the very new Robert the Bruce statue.  These pieces of art tell the tale of Robert the Bruce’s occupation of the castle that once stood nearby.

Robert the Bruce statue in the old quarry at Castledykes Park

Our little detour did mean an extra hill for the challengers but this was taken in our stride as we ascended all the way to The Crichton. With most of the up hills done it was time for a well earned break. We’ve been carrying out litter picks on our rides but as The Crichton grounds are so well looked after there wasn’t anything for us to do! Instead we enjoyed the sunshine, cakes and some bubble blowing antics in the beautiful surrounds of the rock garden.

Arriving at Kingholm Quay

From our rest stop, we set off for a tour around the Crichton – past the church, Easterbrook Hall, via the college and past the farm. We then enjoyed a long downhill from The Crichton into Kingholm Quay. It was busy on the river, so we stopped to watch the boats going past before the final leg back to the park.

Boats at Kingholm Quay

There was a lot packed in to our 4 mile ride, which just goes to show there is adventure to be found not far from the front door.



Ride Routes page ready – are you?

If there’s one thing we’ve done a lot of in Cycling Dumfries it’s go on bike rides. We’ve added a ‘Ride Routes’ page to our website to share our favourite rides with you. So if you’re stuck for ideas take at look at the page for some inspiration.

There are a mixture of rides starting at 3 miles and going up to 26 miles. Each ride page gives you a flavour of the ride – how hilly it may be and points of interest to look out for on the way.

summer road ride
The road from Kingholm

Compiling this list has been a great reminder of how fantastic the scenery is in Dumfries and Galloway. Even on a short 3 miler from Dock Park to Kingholm Quay you take in the wild river Nith, detailed old buildings and a braw view of Criffel. Take a longer ride out of toon and you’ll come across historic features covering the last 2000 years. Stone circles, old crannog sites and castles in various states of crumbliness.

All of this set to a backdrop of spectacular scenery and beautiful views, inhabited by some cracking plants and wildlife. Otters, badgers, red squirrels, nightjars, barnacle geese, red kites, osprey, wild garlic, samphire, bluebells, purple hairstreak butterflies . . . And a scattering of lovely tea rooms to top it all off.

We are surrounded by a rich heritage, so what better way to enjoy it than on a bike ride.


Seasonal Cycle rides

With the shorter days it’s even more satisfying to make the most of the daylight hours. So come along and explore the region, and its cafes, by bike.

All rides are free and lycra is not a necessity. The routes range from 20 to 25 miles and include a café stop at about the half way point, so think of it as two rides of 10 or 12 miles. We will cycle at the speed of chat and never leave anyone behind.

Meet on the Whitesands at Devorgilla Bridge for 11am. Rides will be cancelled in the event of really diabolical weather – check the facebook page or twitter for updates on  the day. All the route information for individual rides can be found here.

seasonal cycles 2018If you can, please print a copy of the seasonal cycles 2018 poster and stick it up on your local noticeboard or at work.

Last of the summer cake – I mean rides

After a delayed start due to a flat tyre (well it wouldn’t be a summer ride without one!) we were off and battling the strong wind round the Maxwelltown Cyclepath. As we headed out of Cargenbridge there was  bit of dodging to be done on the shared use path alongside the Dalbeattie Road – a route obviously popular with horse riders too!

We then made our way along the Mabie Farm Park road before heading past the giant pink marshmallow hay bales to Mabie Farm Park.  From here we cycled up a little known track to bring us out at the sawmill in Mabie Forest.


The proof is in the pudding! Here we enjoyed the final cake offering of the last summer ride before heading back the way we’d come and this time with the wind behind us – weeeeee!

It’s not over yet. The night’s may be shortening and the brambles ready for picking but there’s no need to put the bike in  the shed. Our annual Bike Breakfast is coming up in September and Beat the Street starts next week, which sees Dumfries turned in to a town size game. We’re hoping to form a team so please let us know if you’d like to be part of it! Either email us or message us on facebook.

Valentine’s Ride

Love your bike? Treat it with a ride out to Sweetheart Abbey. We’ll be heading out of Dumfries along the old military road, crossing the Dalbeattie Road at Beeswing. Then it’s an easy few miles down the Loch Arthur New Abbey Road.

In New Abbey as well as admiring Sweetheart Abbey, we’ll head to the tea room or pub for a bite to eat. The abbey was founded by Lady Devorgilla in memory of her husband John Balliol.  After his death she had his heart embalmed and placed in an ivory casket, which she is said to have carried with her forever after, finally being buried with it on her death.

Sweetheart Abbey Nith Scotland Galloway Dumfries

Despite a chequered history and an early demise in the 16th century, this 700 year old ruin has survived various wars to stand almost complete.The blood red sandstone and graceful architecture are nestled below the bulk of Criffel amongst green rolling hills and patches of woodland.

It’s through this countryside we’ll head back, leaving New Abbey to the north along the coast road for a short section before turning off to follow Kirkconnell Lane. This will bring us out near Mabie Forest, where we rejoin the coast road for another small section and then take the Mabie Farm park road returning along the shared use path to Cargenbridge and back in to town.

Past halfway on our fifth summer ride

With a starting number of 13, including our two ride leaders, we headed off from Dock Park along the Whitesands to begin our ride to the 12 Apostles near Newbridge.

After negotiating the Buccleuch Street Road bridge by foot due to the closure of Loreburn Bridge, it was a steady ride via Cuckoo bridge to the crossing on the A76. We were delighted to be joined by an extra four riders at  Lincluden, so the group of now 17 continued through Lochside to the Irongray Road which provided a tougher than usual ascent due to a strong headwind. This was however rewarded with an enjoyable freewheel into Newbridge, for the final push up to the stone circle.

A regular sight – taking the Buccleuch Street bridge by foot due to the closure of the pedestrian and cycle bridge.
The freshly cut field provided an enjoyable stop complete with cake AND biscuits. The stones made an excellent assault course for the younger ones who were quick to scramble over each stone, suggesting the purpose of this stone circle could well have been a playground.

The perfect rock to pose on.

As we regrouped for the return ride a red kite was spotted soaring above us, one of the closest sightings to Dumfries. After some deliberation we headed back the same way, as a few riders agreed the shared use path along the A76 can be a broken glass hotspot. The only down side was the enjoyable hill into Newbridge is a testing hill on the way back up. So in true Tour de France spirit when the going got tough we simply ascended on foot.

Several groups peeled off on the way back, so we arrived back at Dock Park with six cyclists. Another summer afternoon well spent. So with only three rides left, if you haven’t had chance to join us yet, please do! We’ll be venturing out into the wild west of Dumfries along the Glen Road next week.

Winter wonderland by bike

A wintry lane

It seems a bit premature to mention winter when we are still enjoying the autumn colours and mild weather, but this year’s Winter Rides are back by popular demand.

They are longer than our summer rides, anywhere between 20 and 25 miles, so are suitable for people who feel up to the challenge. As with all our rides, we happily go at the speed of the slowest, and if anyone wants to stop and ‘admire the view’ at the top of any hills, they should feel free.

Be prepared for the elements – these are Winter Rides after all – and bring cash for a lunch or coffee stop which is planned it to every route. The rides will go ahead regardless of the weather unless, in the opinion of the ride leader it would be unsafe or no fun.

The rides take place on the third Saturday of the month starting from the St Michael’s Bridge entrance to Dock Park at 10am. The programme is as follows and we are sticking to our tried and tested routes from previous years:

  • 21st Nov 2015: Ruthwell Cross – a visit to Ruthwell Church and its Anglo Saxon cross, and back for lunch at the Glencaple  cafe – 24 miles
  • 16th Jan 2016: Auldgirth –  all via cycle paths and quiet rural roads – no A76 required. 21 miles
  • 20th Feb 2016: Caerlaverock – the castle and the wetland centre, with a choice of lunch destinations… 22 miles
  • 19th Mar 2016: Loch Arthur – a chance to sample some award-winning cheeses and try out their new cafe – 20 mile

There will be no ride during December as many people are enjoying the festivities, but we shall continue through to March, when hopefully there will be lambs gambolling in the fields and daffodils bobbing their heads at us . . .

These jaunts are a reminder of how we can continue to enjoy the area by bike, even in winter, when many think there are no riding days to be had.