The city of Nice seen from the surrounding hillside bathed in sunshine

Home Travel StoriesExploring The Galloway Coast

A Long Way To Not Far

Ride Date 10 September 2023

By Ren Withnell

Eh? What? Where am I? Ah, yes, right, uh huh, OK. Sunday morning, on a campsite, on the Galloway coast, phew. I'm not used to sleeping well in a tent, I figure I must be getting old or something. Heck it's 0730 I've even had a lie in! We'll not be having any of this nonsense today, today we have things to do.

Today we pack away the tent and make the long, arduous, difficult and treacherous 35 mile journey to our next place of rest. There won't even be the home comforts of our tent after this challenging adventure, just the hardships and discomfort of a static caravan. It's a dirty job but someone's got to do it and I figure it might as well be me, I believe I'm tough enough to take on this burden for the rest of society. 

The real problem here is the static isn't available until 1500 and we need to be off this campsite by 1100. That gives us 4 hours to travel 35 miles, an average speed of 8.75 miles per hour. I therefore deduce it might be wise to make a few diversions, take the opportunity to look around a little, to otherwise explore and seek out wild excitement. Or something like that.

I've done my research and Carrick Bay looks suitably remote. With the bikes fully laden and the sat-nav's coordinates set we depart the campsite. 11 miles of fast flowing A75 flies by and then we're onto single track lane. This is farmland once more, much akin to the Peak District for example, save for the clumps of hardy gorse (or is it broom?) clinging to anything too steep to cultivate. 

Oh dear. The road seems to have lost it's road surface ahead. We stop the bikes and ponder what to do. 

A plain gravel road leading away to the sea and shoreline in the distance
Our tarmac suddenly becomes gravel.

I can ride on gravel, perhaps a little rougher. I've lead Sharon down many a poorly surfaced roads which she has survived but neither she nor her bike are really set up for off roading, and with luggage this lane may be a step too far. But no, she'll be OK. Perhaps. Do we really need to risk damaging her and her bike? It's not that important, it's just a beach and a bay. 

But I wanna see!

Being the kind, caring, generous and loving partner that I am I abandon Sharon at the end of the tarmac and head down the track. I've convinced myself (and hopefully Sharon) this is a recce to see if the road is traversable by herself, but I'm rather enjoying about a mile of hard packed and changeable gravel and dust. There's lumps and bumps and corners and angles but it's obvious this road could be used by a family hatchback. With care. And good suspension. And knobbly tyres.

There's some curious houses here. Not of traditional materials, they look like holiday lodges but used for permanent residence. It's feels just a tad, alternative, hippy, out there, left field. An elderly lady looks at me curiously as I pass, I nod and she smiles and nods back. The beach and bay is nice enough.

I return. I advise her ladyship of the conditions and advise against her riding there. Instead, in a leap of braveness or stupidity we unload my bags, leave them next to Sharon's bike and she hops on the back of my 500. I return to the bay, this time 2 up off roading, being sure to nod again at the elderly lady. We stop a while to enjoy the scenery and calm surroundings.

The bags off ren's bike next to Sharons Kawasaki
Is it wise to just leave these here?

A beach, rocky outcrops, a lonesome house and sharon smiling at carrick bay
Carrick Bay. Sharon seems happy to be here, worth the effort.

That's just under 4 miles of off roading. I'm hard pushed to find 1 mile of off road track back where I live. Oh sure it's out there but it's all private track or footpath or bridleway, the legal trails are rapidly becoming a thing of the past. Upon our return our kit is where we left it so we load up and head out again. I'm coming back here and I'm gonna ride this track and the rest of it again someday.

I was hoping Brighouse Bay might come complete with a nice cafe for a brew, but alas it only offers a car park and toilets. Once again we take a moment to take in the beach and the pleasant fresh air, to sit a while and do not very much at all. I must be getting old, doing not very much at all comes a lot easier these days, in fact it can be quite pleasant in small doses. 

A rockys and stoney beach, sloping promontories slope into the calm sea
Brighouse Bay is rugged and lovely, sadly lacking in tea though.

The landscape changes, quite subtly, as we get towards Kirkcudbright. It feels just a little, only a little mind, but a little hardier, more angular, rugged. The roads here are quiet too, we're taking it easy along the single track but we can get things moving swiftly on the twin track B727. It feels so good hearing the engine breathing and working fully, I grin.

Kirkcudbright (pronounced - ahem - "kerr-koo-bree" apparently) makes me feel immediately at at home. It is a town, no doubt about that, but it's a small town where the Tesco is not listed as a Tesco Local but let's be honest, it's a Tesco Local. It's not perfect either, not every shop is smart, not every window pristinely painted. The high street has too many charity shops and takeaways. There is space, there is a harbour, there is a pleasant grassy bit to sit and rest, there's places to park. I like it.

We park up and take the time for a stroll around. We also find a bakery in which we purchase both savoury and sweet things. We sit upon the wall next to where the bikes are parked and eat, the pies are hot and tasty, the yum yums are sugary. Yes, "kerr-koo-bree" is rather suiting me. I wonder what it's like here in winter?

Dagnammit. There are times when I can be "intelligent" and I pride myself on my knowledge of maps. So why is it when I follow the signs for Dalbeattie sat nav is desperately trying to take me elsewhere? It takes a while to work out what the issue is, and a few miles of going in circles. Ahem. A yesssss, I see, right. It all makes sense now. 

Dalbeattie Tesco is not in Dalbeattie. Dalbeattie Tesco is in fact in Castle Douglas you see. Why is Dalbeattie Tesco in Castle Douglas? Because there is no Tesco in Dalbeattie but there is a Tesco in Castle Douglas. Assumption is the mother of all cockups. In google maps I'd gone to Dalbeattie, searched for supermarket, seen Tesco, gotten the postcode and assumed. Fool. Google maps had "slid off" to the nearest large supermarket. 

At least Castle Douglas Tesco has that which we want - supplies. We stock up and fill the gaps in the luggage with food and make our way back through Dalbeattie to Kippford, and to the Kippford Bay Caravan Park.

Dagnammit. The site is up to scratch, it's just on the side of a steep hill. The caravan is up to scratch but there's not a flat patch around it. The parking space is grassy and steep. There is much head scratching and I can see both Sharon and I flat on the floor anytime soon. A voice from across the way yells. Long story short, a kindly neighbour offers us a patch of hard gravel on a less steep parking space, one car is moved and I stick both bikes there. He's a big surly chap with an overexcited dog, but I'm thankful for his kindness.

From our caravan we see other caravans and a circle which is where the bikes were parked
Our bikes end up parked where circled, thanks to the kindly neighbour.

Inside the static we realise there's been a mistake. No milk. No milk means no tea. No tea means a slow and painful slide into insanity and despair for me. I kit up, I retrieve the bike from the parking and find the smallest, most peculiar, think Appalachian Mountains and banjos, Londis. I grab the milk and get the hell outta there. The rest of Dalbeattie looks quite drab. This is entirely unfair, the rain is here, the evening is grey now, I need to see the place in better conditions.

With bellies full this evening Sharon tells me we're going to walk down to Kippford. The grey skies have brought light rain but we have waterproofs so we head out. Kippford is grey and dull and murky. No Ren you're being unfair, you need to see it as though the sun is shining and the air is warm. I take a moment to rethink and to try and see things as they are. 

Kippford is a quiet village nestled by a river estuary (or is it almost the sea?). There is a mixture of larger properties with zigzag paths up some bluffs over looking the bay, a few more humble houses by the shore, a community centre and a pub and a small hotel, various boating facilities, and the remains of what may once have been a ferry crossing and ferry. Across the water there's trees and small hills. Kippford is perfectly pleasant, only lacking in such luxuries as a local shop although Dalbeattie is only 4 miles away.

At the end of the village the path continues. I'm not in the mood, alas Sharon is, we are walking further, there is no point in arguing. Along the single track we find the estuary opening out with tiny beaches of shell fragments between rocky outcrops and wind-warn tress. Where the land is flat enough there's the odd house, a few pristinely crisp, others again remind me of an Appalachian Mountain shack. It's not empty here but it feels remote. It is ruggedly pretty here.

A white shell shale beach, green bluffs rolling to the sea, a small island and rocks
Admittedly the scenery beyond the village is worth the effort.
The estuary, with the town in the encroaching darkness and heavy skies
It's getting ever darker as we get back to Kippford.

Somewhat warn out we eventually make it back to the static. It's too easy this, making a brew with a proper kettle, using real cups, not having to walk for 10 minutes to get water, having a sink, even having a toilet close by. Where's the challenge? Where's the adventure? Sharon puts the heating on, we sit on soft squidgy chairs, grunt at each other between surfing social media and then retire to a proper bed with real sheets and a duvet. 

A sink in the static with pots and food etc
Far far too comfortable this caravan thing.

Strange. The Machars Peninsula where we started the day is further from the populous areas. Here we are closer to the major city of Carlisle, the town of Dumfries, and the primary artery of the M6 and M74. Yet while I logically know these facts it *feels* more remote here. The landscape is marginally more angular and rugged, the roads a little more twisty, and there's these tiny clumps of houses trying to be villages. I fear I'm over romanticising this but it feels like a lost stray part of The Highlands.

To bed! It's so big and squishy and not on the floor-y and comfortable. It must be warm in here too, Sharon's stripped off right down to her thermals and only one jumper! I might get lucky folks, maybe I'll see a naked wrist or - oh my - an ankle!! Giggidy giggidy. 

Advertise here - contact

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

Bogger said :-
I'm going to have to find another Website to get my motorcycle kicks. This one is far too hardcore for my liking.

Nearly 40 miles in a DAY, then having to endure warmth, food and shelter. Not to mention a lady disrobing in front of you. Your manly hardiness and sense of adventure knows no bounds

I mean there's being on the this, wow.

I fear I may have to get from behind the curtains to read the next gruelling instalment. If I dare.


13/11/2023 12:38:34 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
Don't forget, he does it so we don't have to.

13/11/2023 16:06:17 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I do hope I've not traumatised yet another reader! Sorry Bogger, do you need me to tone things down a little? I do understand things have been, as you say, "edgy" recently. Just wait until I get around writing up our last short weekend away, now that is life right on the edge.

Thanks Upt', It is good to know someone realises the hardships and struggles I have to endure to bring these missives to you all.
13/11/2023 16:58:11 UTC
nab301 said :-
Ren , looks good , as for leaving luggage by the side of the road , I'm sure no one else would have been able to lift it...
15/11/2023 17:08:18 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Yes that's right nab301, because I'm so big and strong and butch...?
15/11/2023 21:30:24 UTC
ROD¹ said :-
Nice area Ren.
I see that Scotland are now promoting the area as the SWC 300!
It's on the list.
16/11/2023 10:38:13 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
ROD - I've just googled the SWC 300 and yes it would make a lovely trip. Of course now I've been there and it's being promoted it'll soon be filled with campervans and emmets (such as myself). Best hurry up before the chaos sets in.
16/11/2023 20:14:25 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
SWC 300?
Let's have a looksie.
Thank the lord for that....they'll all be going up the M6 into wee bonny jockland.
Dodged a bullet there.
17/11/2023 12:54:46 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Google "Northumberland 250" Upt'. You're not far from what Northumbria would like to the their answer to the NC500. Good luck...
20/11/2023 09:38:04 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
Phew that was close, they turn left at Akeld and go up the 697 to Ford and Etal.
Although called the Northumberland 250 it's interesting that it goes through three counties and two countries.
What's going to be next the Bolton and Chorley 40 and a bit.
20/11/2023 13:08:56 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I am creating The North West 50.


50 miles of grime and deprivation.

Take in the delightful scenery of rows upon rows of dull, drab, cold and damp terraced housing, explore the rubbish filled broken cobbled back streets too. Share a precious moment with friends, dining among the shards of broken glass of a bus shelter and chowing down on a questionable kebab. Admire the architecture of 1970's concrete tower blocks and the ruins of 1870's mills now being used to house telesales call centres and failing engineering shops.

Our route is a relaxing route where speed is irrelevant as you'll be stuck in traffic most of the time. Spend an hour stuck on the motorway trying to get to The Traffic, sorry, Trafford Centre. Spend a day without seeing a tree or a field getting from Liverpool to Manchester via St Helens and Warrington (an optional detour can ensure you'll not even see a nice garden either).

You don't need to worry about accommodation, there's plenty of overpriced "chain" hotels (Travelodge, Premier Inn) en route as well as a charming selection of local businesses offering moist bedding and shared broken toilets for a very reasonable price. It is advised not to camp as this can lead to arrest for vagrancy, although the more indulgent among you may choose to share a doorway with a drunk.

Finally there's the special offer. For only £275 per night you can rent "Ren's House". This mid terrace offers limited worn carpets or none at all, blown double glazing with perished seals to ensure a healthy draft, guaranteed not decorated for at least 20 years, a leak in the loft and a boiler that can be coaxed into life with only the right incantations. There's cold running water, occasionally electricity, and a definite smell of oil, petrol, diesel and WD40 (other smells come and go depending on diet and season). Sleep won't be forthcoming dues to the barking dogs and the shouting outside. We're sure you'll love this genuine authentic indulgence of "The Real Northern Life Experience".

After a 2 week stint travelling the 50 mile route and sampling the wonders of this area we are certain wherever you live, whatever situation you're going back to and whatever your circumstances are, you'll appreciate just how bloody lucky you truly are.
20/11/2023 14:20:13 UTC
nab301 said :-
Sounds good Ren , can you book be in the mid terrace for Monday Tuesday next week , assuming the beds are certified Bug free...
20/11/2023 14:55:47 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
He'd charge extra for bugs.
20/11/2023 15:28:38 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Blimey! If I'da known renting out my hovel was so easy I'd have done it years ago. Presently there's no bedbugs to my knowledge but can I certify that? Hell no.
20/11/2023 19:39:22 UTC

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