Dumfries & Galloway tour

Mention Scotland to most people and they will probably think of the Highlands and islands.  But there’s a great part of Scotland that is often missed on the long drive north (but not by the Scots) and that’s Dumfries and Galloway.  This is a region that offers a great variety scenery: wild moorland, lochs, forests, lush farmland and beautiful coastline. 

This variety makes for great touring country, with lots of options for circular or one way rides.  This route is a circular route from Dumfries but can easily be extended or linked with other long distance NCR routes (national cycle routes). From Dumfries follow the NCR 7 to Castle Douglas passing through Lochfoot and Haugh of Urr on the way.  This is rolling farming country with distant views of the Solway firth and the Galloway hills. 

From Castle Douglas take the A713, a quiet A road, for a couple of miles to Townhead of Greenlaw and the turn left onto the B795.  After about a mile or so cross bridge and turn right to follow the lanes to the Loch Ken nature reserve.

Continue along the lanes from the nature reserve until you meet the A762 – possibly the quietest A road in Scotland.  Follow this for about 4 miles until you reach a turn for the Raiders Road.

The Raiders Road is a gravel track that runs for 10 miles through the forest.  Although it’s also open to general traffic it’s usually fairly quiet.  This is the beginning of the forested section of the route with dense pine forest interspersed by clearings, small lochs and rivers. 

There are a few wild camping spots but it’s quite dense forest so you have to choose your spot  carefully.  There’s a fine river that runs through this section too but it’s only occasionally close to the track so look out for it.

The Raiders Road finishes near Clatteringshaws Loch. From here pick up the off road variant of the NCR 7 – rough tarmac to start and then forestry tracks to Loch Trool

Given the extent of the Glentrool Forest this section is surprisingly open with fine views of the Galloway hills

The surface is generally okay – mainly hard packed gravel but with some loose and steep sections – a bit challenging at times on a recumbent trike but manageable on any bike with 35mm+ tyres

At Glen Trool Visitors’ Centre, there’s a choice – head north on the NCR 7, climbing steadily through the Glentrool Forest and leading eventually to the Ayrshire coast. Or take a left and follow the NCR 7 southwards gently downhill on wooded lanes to Newton Stewart. Newton Stewart offers the option on a side trip to the the Machars – the western peninsular of Dumfries which has good cycling possibilities.

Continuing on our route, follow the NCR 7 uptill to Creetown and Gatehouse of Fleet. The route continues through Borgue, from where there’s a worthwhile loop down to the coast at Brighouse Bay before following the coast into Kikcudbright..

From Kirkcudbright it’s a undulating ride back to Dumfries, following the NCR 7 and the same route as the one taken outwards from Castle Douglas.



Dumfries is easily accessible by road – M6 and A75 or by train. West Coast train to Carlisle and then the local train to Dumfries.


Most of this route follows the Sustrans NCR 7. The most useful map is the Sustrans Lochs & Glens South sheet as it covers the surrounding areas as well as the route.


There are lots of campsites in the area and also caravan sites some of which take tents. A Google search is probably the best way of getting current information on campsites as some sites seem to come and go.

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