Monday, 9 June 2008

Day 8: Dumfries to Largs (88 miles)

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We left Dumfries along the A76 but soon turned off it onto a series of minor roads that runs parallel to it for about 30 miles. This was a lovely ride in the morning sunshine along tiny single-track roads. After about 20 miles we reached Drumlanrig Castle where we stopped for coffee and scones and afterwards inspected the small cycle museum there, which includes a replica of what was one of the first-ever bicycles, built from wood by Kirkpatrick Macmillan.

After coffee we continued along minor roads as far as Kirkconnel, where we had to rejoin the A76. When wed reached New Cumnock we stopped for lunch, which we bought from the village shop and ate sitting on the grass opposite.

Then it was back onto the A76, which we followed as far as Kilmarnock. By now it was getting quite busy and although we made rapid progress along it headwind had picked up and the combination of this and the busy traffic meant that we were all relieved to leave it behind when we got to Kilmarnock.

We went into the centre of Kilmarnock for our afternoon stop. We found a coffee shop in the pedestrianised area and sat outside eating sandwiches and drinking coffee.

Kilmarnock seemed a dismal place, inhabited by dismal, unhelpful people. The sun seemed to agree; it went behind a cloud as we entered the town and only reappeared when we left it. To cap it all, one of a flock of pigeons that seemed to be looping over the town centre decided to, er, drop its load on top of me. Fortunately I was wearing a cap.

We left Kilmarnock on the A335. When we reached the village of Dunlop we turned onto the B706 to Beith and then the B777 to Kilbirnie. By now the headwind had picked up in intensity and was becoming a real challenge. The final section along the A760 to Largs was very hard work, with big gusts of wind slowing us down considerably. By now the weather was noticeably cool and threatening, though it remained dry.

Eventually we saw the sea appear on our left and we started a long descent into Largs, where we checked into our sea front guest house at about 8pm, rather later than usual.

Vital statistics: Distance: 88 miles. Average speed 12.1 mph (low because of that wind). Total mileage from Land's End: 637 miles.

Tomorrow: Day 9 Largs to Inverary


  1. Hope the wind dies down! Lovely weather so we're not at all jealous, oh no.

  2. Hi All, interesting stuff about Dumfries - incidentally, my husband's family are related to the Kirkpatrick's (of the wooden bike fame). In fact my husband's middle name is Kirkpatrick, as is our eldest son's. Bet you're glad technology has moved on! Splinters come to mind!! Keep up the good work. Ann

  3. Alas, modern opinion seems to be that Macmillan's bike is a fiction, dreamed up by a relative much later. There's no primary-source evidence for his miracle machine.

    Shame, as he also invented the first gramophone, nuclear reactor and iPod as well.

    Rum business about that pigeon. It's supposed to be good luck though? Hope you get a nice tailwind today!


  4. PS - Now I remember why Kilmarnock struck a chord. A rather nasty chord, probably something like G flat diminished minor seventh. When I was little our family holiday was to drive up to Kilmarnock and stay there for a week. That's where I got my persecution complex from.