Day 1 - The Nith Estuary National Scenic Area - 25 miles.
You start your tour by cycling on the signposted National Cycle Route from Castle Douglas to arrive at Haugh of Urr village, in the River Urr Valley. After passing an old tower house, we suggest a popular farm shop cafe which makes its own bread and cheese. You continue to enter the Nith Estuary NSA and the quaint village of New Abbey. Here you can visit an Old Corn Mill - which still works and the imposing Sweetheart Abbey, with an award winning tea room next door – maybe for lunch! You continue with views over the Solway coast through another village to arrive at the coast to a seaside village for your accommodation and a popular pub restaurant with a quirky interior! The village was the departure point by boat for thousands to America and Australia in ther late 1700's and early 1800's.
Day 2 - The East Stewartry Coast National Scenic Area - 22 miles.
You start on quiet country roads today and soon come across the cottage museum where John Paul Jones, the founder of the US Navy was born. Our route takes you along an old avenue to rejoin the road and on to Southerness Point with lighthouse. Continue along the coast road to have a look in Mersehead RSPB Nature Reserve, with a beach walk an option.
You then cycle through some interesting villages and communities as you enter the East Stewartry Coast National Scenic Area, part of which was known by the Victorians as 'The Scottish Riviera. A path takes you by one scenic coastal village to the next one and your hotel with popular restaurant.
Day 3 - From the River Urr to the River Dee - 29 miles.
You are never far from the coast today as you cycle from one river estuary towards the next. Again you pass through several villages through an area known for smuggling and frequented by Robert Burns (national poet) when he was an exciseman.
Take a short detour to Balcary Bay beauty spot and visit Dundrennan Abbey, where Mary Queen of Scots spent her last night in Scotland before arriving at Kirkcudbright artists’ town, popular with tourists. See the castle, old High Street, museum and art galleries. Good food options here also!, including queen scallops from the fishing boats and a harbour side fish and chip shop!
Day 4 - Fleet Valley National Scenic Area - 24 miles.
You begin on a sign-posted cycle route by the River Dee estuary with the first option to visit Brighouse Bay, a location popular with Kirkcudbright's artists in the early 1800's.
Further on you arrive at the coast with Islands of Fleet offshore as you enter the Fleet Valley National Scenic Area.
This stretch of coast is one of our favourites - with a bicycle ideal for exploring the best parts. Your reward is an award winning ice cream farm and visitor centre stop option before passing a hotel with golf course (upgrade accommodation available here) and staying the night in Gatehouse of Fleet where a weekly pub music ‘jam session’ takes place.
An extra day option to Cairnsmore of Fleet Nature Reserve with Biosphere and Dark Sky Park - 5A
From Gatehouse you can take an extra day to head into the hills to visit Cairnsmore of Fleet Nature Reserve - with a different upland terrain to which you've been used to. It is a peaceful location 7 miles from Gatehouse and the inspiration for the chase in the novel ' The Thirty Nine Steps' by John Buchan and also 'Five Red Herrings' by Dorothy L. Sayers.
As well as a disused old railway viaduct and way-amrked walks, a small visitor centre interprets the ecology of the area. A picnic is suggested today, either in the hills or by the Big Water of Fleet river.
Day 5 - The Galloway Forest Park back to Castle Douglas - 20 miles.
Your way back to Castle Douglas is along the edge of the Galloway Forest Park on an upland road with some stunning views over the Galloway hills. Beware of wandering sheep on the road!
At the village of Laurieston an award winning 'Galloway landscape' photographer has a gallery. Nearby is Bellymack Farm and red kite birds of prey feeding station where you can see a daily feeding spectacular with up to a 100 red kites swooping to the bird table. The tour continues by Loch Ken with Ken Dee Marches nature reserve a short detour option before returning to Castle Douglas for a well earned beer at the local brewery.
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