If you ever visited Kitty’s Tearoom in New Galloway, you were sitting beneath a bit of Palnackie’s maritime history. The beautiful panelled ceiling was salvaged from a captain’s cabin in a boat broken up there. The harbour although marked as a working harbour, looks like a place where boats come to slowly turn to rust. It was the outlet port for Castle Douglas and a bustling port. It is a wonderful place to spend some time just sitting and waiting for The Willow Tree restaurant to open.
March had been dry. I had read that an ounce of dust in March was worth more than gold, and a spell of good weather was ahead. The usual lush green of Galloway even in the height of summer has now faded under the heat of the hottest and driest spell of weather since the summer of 76. It is time to head for the beach.
It is always worth having a short bike ride worked out and ready to go. The warm and light evenings mean that you can start a short ride after 7 and make the most of the day with this 7 mile out and back route to Horse Isles Bay. Closer parking is possible but can fill up with cars as it did even in April on the first beach Sunday of the Spring. Biking there is a great option.
Head away from the harbour along Port Road and take a left at the Glen Isle pub. Another left onto the minor road by the school and you are out into countryside and on one of the most beautiful roads in Galloway. Too narrow to enjoy driving a car with your foot hovering over the brake pedal, you can lift your eyes and take it all in from a bike.
You take a left, though turning right for a visit to Orchardton Tower would be a good plan B. You are heading towards Almorness House with some wonderful trees lining the road and the first views back to Screel Hill. The road ends and you need to lift your bike over the gate ahead. The track down to your left is a wonderful walk for another day and full of Bluebells recently.
The riding through Drummanoch woods is bumpy but not technical, walk if you need to. Stay with the obvious track until you come to your second gate. The road curves around to the right by some of the fine dry stone dykes, beautifully crafted from huge finger crushing rock. Often the local Herdwick sheep are here and will stand in your way staring out from under heavy grey fleeces.
The bay is ahead now and you drop down to it through a tight track. You are going to shout ” WOW ” when the view opens. Time this right and you will have one of the best beaches in the area all to yourself. Many prefer White Port which is a walk over the headland after hiding your bike, but I prefer this one.
Time to sit now and take in the view across the water to The Scottish Riviera coast of Kippford and Rockcliffe. Cheese sandwiches and a flask would make the moment even more perfect. The return journey takes the same route in reverse which is never a bad thing with so much to see and enjoy and will bring you up to 7 miles pedalled in total.