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Exploring The Machars Peninsula

Ride Date 9 September 2023

By Ren Withnell

A map of the Machars Peninsula on the Galloway coast
For your information - this is The Machars Peninsula.

Sleep did come last night, thanks to the earplugs. Sometime around 0300 I removed one earplug while I had a pee and all was not silent. Alcohol turns probably quite normal, decent, respectable human beings into selfish witless morons. As I wake around 0630 all is quiet. I'm now wishing I had the loudest Harley ever, I'd go and rev it up right next to their tents. Ah, no. You see I'm far too considerate, there's all the other decent campers who were quiet last night, they'll be wanting to catch up on the sleep they missed because of this lot.

I go and have a shower instead while pondering the injustice of the world. The shower block is great, large rooms with a loo and a sink and a low floor easy access shower unit. If my bathroom was this big and well set up I'd think I was posh. Ah, blast. A blimmin push button tap in the shower, and with a short timeout. Close, but failing to be perfect in this one last annoying detail.

It's misty this morning. It *looks* cold but it's not, hardly even cool. There's a stirring from Sharon's sleeping bag, I suspect there may be signs of life too sooner or later. She's getting better you know, she wakes from her slumber long before lunchtime these days. Waking her is far less dangerous too, if I ensure there's a hot drink ready for her I feel relatively safe.  

Looking out from the tent to the field with other camper's tents its misty and moist today
Mild yet misty. The red tents were the noisy tents.

As we're milling around we're joined by another motorcycling camper. Mike (or is it Mick?) hails from the nice bits of Manchester and is here on his - ahem - Ducati Panigale V4. I manage to insult him by suggesting it's what, around 150bhp? He corrects me, 215 bhp. Seems excessive to me. He does some serious miles on this bike and others. His family was holidaying in Portugal a while back, at the last minute he decided not to fly with them but ride there. Wow. Anyhow it seems the drunken ladies kept him awake too, he was close to "having a firm word". 

Sharon and mike or mick in the morning mist
Mike (Mick?) is recovering from a disturbed night.

Right - to business. A quick look around the campsite informs us there's a small outdoor pool onsite but it appears to only open at peak times. There's a very basic shop, more like a few shelves of non perishable foodstuffs and milk kind of thing. It's not a bad site at all and I like the location and the facilities (save for the lack of water taps). I suppose you can't do anything about the folks using the site.

Between the sides of 2 static caravans we see the ruins of Castle Cary
There is a castle at Castle Cary, and static caravans.

Next we take the 15 minute walk into Creetown. Again, yeah, I like Creetown. It is tiny, it's a one church one shop one pub kind of place. It's definitely not posh, this ain't The Cotswolds here. It's lived in, some homes are worn and tired, others smart and sharp, the footpaths aren't pristine and the net curtains in one or two windows need a clean. This means I feel far more at home, much more relaxed here than I ever could in the villages around Cirencester. 

Stone houses, the street and a regular Scottish village
Creetown, my kinda town.

We buy a few supplies from the little local shop. The lady behind the counter is chatty, we learn it does get busy around this area in the high season, otherwise it's quiet and a good place to live. I'm disappointed to hear it gets busy, I was kind of hoping we'd managed to find our own little private retreat. With a campsite. Hmmm. Think it through Ren, think it through. You do not find tourist accommodation in places where there are no tourists. 

Following our established routine Sharon is luxuriating on the back of my bike. The A75 this morning is quiet and fast, the landscape is broad and misty, there's hills in the distance I think, it's hard to tell. We take the A714 south towards Wigtown, this road again is open and flowing and I'm enjoying the ride and the mist is lifting. 

How do you describe a Scottish town like Wigtown? Scotland has regular towns that look every bit the same as my home town of Bolton, but it also has, I dunno, rural towns? England has rural towns, Scottish rural towns are about the same size, have the same kind of shops, the same kind of people but there's a difference, oh what is it Ren? Architecture? Space? 

There's this thing with the white painted houses in Scotland, true. Steeper roofs to shed the rain better? They do love a good attic room here, perhaps it's to get a better view of the rain. Stouter materials in sturdier buildings. I can't put my finger on it but it's there, they have their own character. Space. There's more space, the streets are a little wider, the communal areas bigger. 

Wigtown is this, whatever a rural Scottish town's this is. Again it's not that snobby chocolate box lovely perfection but there's a market with tarps held in place with big clamps. Sharon's already liking Wigtown as there's a book theme here, plenty of bookshops for such a small place. Unless the book has pictures it's no good to me, I can't read. We take a stroll, mingling with the sprinkling of shoppers and wondering if there's a nice bungalow for sale on the edge of town.

Wigtown market square with a cenotaph, market stalls, trees houses and cars
Wigtown on a busy bustling chaotic Saturday market day.

Even Bolton looks less godawful in the sun. As the sun finally starts to burn away the morning's mist this area changes from really quite nice to very lovely indeed. We're afforded views across the bay to, well what I figure is probably Creetown where we're camped. I won't lie and tell you it's as impressive as The Highlands, it feels more, err, Irelandy, which makes sense as Ireland's not that far away. 

Garlieston is a quiet village with a harbour, a caravan site and a handful of streets. As we park an old chap sat on the bench accosts me most politely. Of course he used to have bikes, would love another, these new fangled electronic machines are no good and so on. Sharon and I take a walk down a narrow street or two, it's now getting rather warm and sweaty in this midday sun and our bike gear.

The harbour is devoid of water leaving muddy flats and a caravan site beside the sea wall
I figure the tide is out at Garlieston, otherwise  the harbour ain't much good.

This peninsula is called The Machars and it's filled with fine farmland. There's merely undulations and small low hills here yet now the mist clears there's the continuous presence of the bigger hills inland if you care to look. There's odd houses here and there and a farmyard or two. The sea is never far away and the fields are green and the bushes dense. The roads are small and quiet. I speed up to enjoy the sensations, I slow down to enjoy the views.

The Isle Of Whithorn is another quiet village by the sea. We take a few moments to inspect the jagged sharp rocks beside the slipway, these would tear a boat and a human to shreds in turbulent weather. We also take a cup of hot strong tea from St Ninian's tearoom, which appears also to be a community centre. We sit outside on the grass, the mist hides the bay then clears again minute by minute, fascinating.

Houses and sea wall at Isle of Whithorn and the CB500X on the car park
There's no water in the harbour at The Isle of Whithorn either. Funny that.

We are being spoiled. The A747 is empty, bathed in sun, fast and pretty. Again I'm fighting myself, I go fast as that corner looks fun, Oooh I must slow down and see how the sea glistens and the land falls away. It's thrilling to open the taps then I want to soak it all up slowly. Oh dear, what a terrible predicament, poor poor Ren.

Port William is, relatively speaking, a sprawling metropolis! There's not only a shop but a proper cafe and even a chippy! We park up and spend a moment looking out to sea with the bronze statue, we enter the cafe to consider food but there's nothing grabbing our fancy. We decide it would be much better to sit out here by the sea eating chips but alas, the chippy is closed at present. 

A life size bronze statue of a fisherman looking out to sea at Port William
We take a moment to look at what he's been looking at for quite a while now.

Now I have a problem, I have a taste for chips and no chips to satisfy that taste. The coastal A747 heading north west is a joyous vista of coast and hardy bluffs, farmland and gentle sweeping bends. The coast lifts away to spikey grasses and rolling undulations and then we're back to the main A75. I take this road back to Newton Stewart in search of greasy chip satisfaction. 

Vast sandy beach, rocks to the roads, flat seas and rocky bluffs in the distance
It's a good road the A747.

The Star Fish Takeaway is more of a kebab, pizza and burger shop than a chippy, but they have chips. These chips are "acceptable" rather than wantonly delicious, Sharon and I are left just a little underwhelmed. You have to know an area to know the best places, we don't know the area. Dagnammit!

Back at the site and the noisy families are still here but the drunken ladies have packed up and left. We take a stroll around the site, we have a brew and munch on snacks and packet cakes. And we talk.  

I am struggling to work out how to convey The Machars Peninsula to you. It doesn't have the drama and majesty of The Applecross Peninsula. It's not wild or remote, it's mostly farmland and random villages. The roads are quiet and fun to ride but I could take you to better roads and not too far from here. No, I shall not be claiming there's anything amazing or spectacular here. Don't let this put you off though. It is quite lovely, I've enjoyed our day here, I'll be more than happy to return here, heck I could even see myself living here. I am perfectly content with the day we've enjoyed.

What The Machars lacks in superlatives it more than makes up for in charm. 

Hardy grass hills, a remote house and the quiet road on the Machars
It's *this* kind of a place.

I figure our noisy neighbours overdid it last night, that or someone's had a word. All is calm, all is quiet by 2100 save for the clunk of a kettle and softly spoken gratitudes. We turn in for the night. The air is still and warm, the bikes and ourselves are all good, there's no trouble getting settled tonight.

Advertise here - contact ren@bikesandtravels.com

Prologue - Galloway Coast 2023 The wheres and whys are explained in Ren's usual "looking for excuses" style. There's method to his madness, if only he could explain.
Traffic, Improving Scenery And Drink Problems And they're off! There's traffic and improving scenery, Ren dares to spend a few pence and there's some drunkenness.
Exploring The Machars Peninsula The Machars Peninsula on the Galloway coast receives a good dose of looking at today. What the area lacks in superlatives it more than makes up for in charm. 
A Long Way To Not Far There's a big job breaking out today and Ren is worried if they're up to the task. They have 4 hours to cover 35 miles, OH NO! Fear not, even Ren can get this wrong too.
Around Dalbeattie It's time to explore the area around Dalbeattie, to see what's what. It's all going rather well until Ren's vivid imagination runs away with him.
Home And Thoughts On The Galloway Coast Home time once again and Ren's mulling over the whole experience. Was it worth the effort and should a return trip be planned?

Reader's Comments

Ian Soady¹ said :-
Sometimes it's nice just to relax and not be bothered with "excitement" which is often overrated in my experience.
20/10/2023 11:44:36 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
Moore's Fish and Chips in Castle Douglas.
You're welcome.
They own some nice self catering opposite too.
20/10/2023 13:26:55 UTC
nab301 said :-
Excellent write up and photos as usual Ren .
20/10/2023 13:48:33 UTC
ROD¹ said :-
Thank you for the write up Ren.
This area looks interesting, and I am thinking this would make a good trip combined with the Galloway Forest area.
20/10/2023 14:52:56 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
"Sometimes it's nice just to relax and not be bothered with "excitement" which is often overrated in my experience." - I'm learning that while aging has it's downsides, the lack of drive for excitement leads to the ability to relax and enjoy thing.

Yeah, that's great Upt', just a month too late. Maybe next time huh, and don't tell Sharon about the self catering otherwise that'll be the budget blown.

Cheers nab301 and ROD. Yeah, the whole Galloway area is well worth a look with some of the best roads I know being in and across the forest and hills. It's also so much easier to get to for we English emmets/grockles/annoying tourists. My next goal is to explore the "Rhins Of Galloway" which is that hammerhead peninsula around Stranraer.
20/10/2023 15:02:53 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
The Mull of Galloway visitor centre caff is worth a visit Ed. The scenery is pretty spectaclia, I think you can see NI across the water. Although it's years since I've been there so I could be mistaken. Good place for spotting Woodcocks at dusk. Not good riding roads from what I recall. All sheep crap and pot holes.
I think it's the most Southern point in wee bonny Scotland and the Toon is OK'ish too. I'm also quite fond of the A77 up to Girvan before crossing inland back to Newton Stewart.
Upt. Better late than never, maybe, perhaps.

20/10/2023 16:09:53 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
If you're into your birds the Red Kite visitor centre at feeding time is a must.
20/10/2023 16:11:19 UTC
Scot-in-Exile said :-
I’ll second Moore’s of Castle Douglas for excellent fish and chips. Polar Bites in Kirkcudbright is also terrific, plus has the bonus of a good sit-in area. Lots of good cafes in Newton-Stewart too.
21/10/2023 22:14:44 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Hang on... Sharon and I were in Newton Stewart in search of chips. Castle Douglas is 30 miles from Newton Stewart. That's a 60 mile round trip for chips. I'm used to a 2 minute walk to my local Chinese, that's a long ride for chips!

The roads are full of sheep poop and potholes Upt'? My kinda roads.
23/10/2023 08:27:47 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
That's the trouble with soft townies, crying off over 30 miles. Pffffffftttttt.
But, they would be cold by the time you got back to your wigwam. And no one likes cold chippies.
23/10/2023 12:45:37 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Townie huh? Bleedin' country bumpkins reckoning they're all tough with their cold chips and 60 mile round trips just to get a carton of moo-juice (milk). Some blithering idiot tried to tell me when I were a lad that milk comes outta cows, everyone knows milk comes outta cartons (or bottles fert posh folks). Chips come outta chippies not the ground, it's only spaghetti that grows on trees.
23/10/2023 21:14:40 UTC
Scot-in-Exile said :-
Can’t remember the names (Belted Galloway excepted), but the last time I was in Newton Stewart there were at least three cafes which did excellent fish and chips. Nae need to ride 30 miles ;-)
23/10/2023 21:29:09 UTC

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