After arrival, we suggest you familiarise yourself with Castle Douglas with a cycle or town walk to see Crockett’s childhood home and school on Cotton Street.
To explore further afield, you can also take a short cycle to Threave Castle on a river island – ring the bell for the ferry boat!
Threave Castle (and Garden) which features in Crockett’s works ‘The Black Douglas’ and ‘Maid Margaret’ .
Stay in Castle Douglas.
Enjoy a beer at Sulwath brewery after your look around.
Day 1 - Rathan (Heston) Island Circuit – from 20 to 28 miles.
Cycle to Balcary Bay to view the island featured in ‘The Raiders,’ ‘The Dark o’ the Moon,’ and ‘The Dew of Their Youth’ as well as in the smuggling novels ‘The Smugglers,’ and ‘The Moss Troopers;’ which also feature the coastal caves and cliffs. Option for a walk and closer view from Torr point or on a group guided tour, a walk to the island should low tide permit.
We will advise on Picnic walk and lunch options. Return to Castle Douglas via Auchencairn (visit the community garden’s Crockett corner) by Orchardton Tower and Palnackie village with the old harbour by the River Urr. Return to the same accommodation in Castle Douglas.
Day 2 – Castle Douglas to St John’s Town of Dalry – 29 miles.
Cycle to Glenlochar, then north to Balmaghie kirk to see Crockett’s grave and on by the old ‘kirk road’ to Laurieston to see his memorial. This is also on the Galloway Kite Trail, with the red kite feeding station on the route. The heart of the Glenkens area is a key setting in many of Crockett’s novels and short stories set in the 19th century, and also features in his historical writing including ‘The Standard Bearer.’ Passing Blates Mill, and stopping at Woodhall (Grenoch) Loch you can imagine the young Sam and his character Kit Kennedy swimming in the heat of summer. ‘A Galloway Herd,’ Kit Kennedy’ Lad’s Love,’ and parts of ‘Cleg Kelly’ are all set round here. As you approach Crae Hill, opposite Crockett’s birthplace Little Duchrae, you can imagine bumping into many of his characters, including the stalwarts Saunders and Mary McQuhirr, (based on Crockett’s maternal grandparents,) who brought him up.
Continue north with the option for a detour loop via the old railway line at Mossdale; another Crockett location and home to characters Samuel and Eppie Tamson in ‘The Raiders.’ This takes you to picturesque Loch Stroan and back by the popular forestry drive ‘The Raiders Road’, named after Crockett’s book which at points touches The Black Water of Dee, familiar from many of Crockett’s novels and tales, offering many places to pause and let your imagination fly. Then continue north to New Galloway for lunch.
A flexible afternoon route north visits Earlstoun Castle near St John’s Town of Dalry. This area is the setting for Crockett’s Covenanting novel ‘The Men of the Moss Hags,’ and many other of his works set around the Rhinns of Kells which are visible to the west.
You have the option for an early finish at your accommodation in a local country hotel noted for good food or a relaxing riverside walk by the Water of Ken. This offers great places to sit and read some Crockett in situ! Crockett himself was a keen cyclist and his ‘Sweetheart Travellers’ includes some episodes set near here.
Day 3 - St John’s Town of Dalry to Glentrool – 29 miles.
Cycle on the signposted National Byways Cycle route to Clatteringshaws loch – for a refreshment at the tea room before heading into the Galloway Hills.
A 15 miles route, initially on a tarred road then on forestry roads takes you from Clatteringshaws loch to Loch Dee and then to Loch Trool. This follows in the footsteps of many of Crockett’s historical characters, from gypsies to Covenanters. The route is a signposted cycle route and has an occasional hill – but peace and quiet and no traffic!
To the west you are in the shadow of The Dungeon Hills which is a stronghold for Crockett’s gypsy characters across the generations, from ‘Silver Sand, ‘The Raiders’ and ‘The Dark o’ the Moon.’
We pass close by the setting of ‘Rose of the Wilderness,’ and emerge at Glenhead, a favourite spot of Crockett’s. He wrote several of his early works here and was friends with the tenant John McMillan who took him on research adventures into the hills to gain background for his novels. Tenanted until the 1990’s the house has recently been sold by The Forestry Commission who latterly managed it.
For accommodation, cycle 6 miles further on, past Loch Trool to Glentrool area, following the footsteps of characters Patrick Heron, May Maxwell and Silver Sand as well as others, where a holiday park and hotel, again with good food, are accommodation options.
Day 4 – A day in the Galloway Hills – walking or a rest day.
From your accommodation you can return to Glenhead today to experience the serenity and ambience of the area or choose a walk, hill or round Loch Trool, according to the conditions and to suit your ability. The Murder Hole, Loch Neldricken, Loch Enoch and other places are featured in ‘The Raiders Trilogy’ and other books. Merrick, the highest hill at 843 metres can be included in a circular route.
Stay another night in the same accommodation.
Day 5 – Return to Castle Douglas.
A pickup can be arranged from your accommodation in the morning to return you to the start point in Castle Douglas.
We suggest the tour can also be extended witha morning cycle downstream by the River Cree to Newton Stewart. On this route you pass the scene of the murder in the book 'Five Red Herrings' by Dorothy L. Sayers, another significant author, this time of ctrime novels in the 1930's.
You also have the option to have additional days cycling east by the National Cycle Route to visit Creetown, Gatehouse of Fleet, Kirkcudbright and back to Castle Douglas.
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