Looking across to the snow capped alpine mountains seen from the back seat of a motorcycle

Home Travel StoriesExploring The Galloway Coast

Home And Thoughts On The Galloway Coast

Ride Date 12 September 2023

By Ren Withnell

Alas it is time to depart and return to the mundane. It is time to go back home, back to work and back to normality. It's Sharon's fault, obviously. She should have been richer, worked harder, pushed her career further and made more money. She might have had enough by now to keep me in the luxury I deserve. Pffffft.

And of course the sun is out. Not that the weather's been terrible on this trip, not by a long chalk, however I'm sure we'd have appreciated the beauty of this area more in glorious sunshine. One advantage of the caravan being on a steep hillside is we have a fair view across to the hills in the distance. One disadvantage of the caravan being on a steep hillside is it seems prudent to move the bikes to the flat parking at the bottom of the hill and load the luggage there. It's not far really.

Across the top of a few static caravans we see a big angular hill and trees around the base
It's them thar hills looking good in the sun.

We load up and depart. We stop at Morrisons in Dumfries to fuel up. We stop in Penrith for a brew. We stop at Lancaster services for a pee, a brew and to say our goodbyes. We part company on the road where the M61 splits off from the M6 south of Preston. That's it, all done, till next time.

So what's my thinking of The Galloway Coast? 

Note above how I've managed to sum up our return journey in one short paragraph. There's nothing really to report because for Sharon and I living in Merseyside and Greater Manchester - The Galloway Coast is not that far away. At around 4 easy hours ride this puts the area in the "long weekend" category I'd say. It's a bit too far to pop up for a night unless the weather is great, but far away enough to not feel like we're camping in the back yard. 

But should we return? 

Closer to home in North Wales we have bigger hills, impressive mountains and monumental scenery, it would be a lie to say The Galloway Coast matches North Wales in this aspect. The Yorkshire Dales and The Peak District are both an easy match for the Galloway Coast too. If you measure your pleasure purely in terms of "biggest" or "most beautiful" or "wildest" then nah, don't bother, it's lovely but not the loveliest.

Stunning steep welsh mountains and a little snow make for an impactful view
You'll find scenes like this in Wales, not on the Galloway coast.

If you want the best riding in the UK then you'll find some of the best inland of The Galloway Coast in the Galloway Hills. The A712 from Crocketford to Balmaclellan is a cracker if you like twisty and gnarly and bouncy (CB500X country). If you prefer fast and sweeping the A76 from Dumfries to Cumnock will fill ya boots. We enjoyed some wonderful lanes and roads along the coast, they were great - but not the greatest.

I imagine by now you're getting my point. So do I desire a return visit? Why yes. But why if it's not the "...est"? 

Regulars may recall we had a great holiday in Devon earlier this year. The holiday was great because we were with friends, Devon is nice enough but we didn't find Devon all that special a place for the act of motorcycling per se. This trip has introduced us to an area where the riding is good (not the best but still good), the towns and villages are pretty (not the prettiest but still pretty), the scenery is charming (not the most charming but still charming), and all this comes within an easy afternoon's ride. 

But there's good roads in Wales and North Yorkshire and and and  - and places closer to home too? Yes there are and I'd recommend a visit to Wales and North Yorkshire for sure. What we found was Galloway is just a little quieter, and it feels more remote, more forgotten. We were there in mid September, outside of the school holidays but still within the holiday season. I'd welcome people's input regarding how busy the area gets at various times of the year.

There's another, er, less tangible aspect. It's all about the "feels" as da kidz wud say deez days innit. The human brain is split in twain. There's the pre spoken word, pre human, pre mammalian brain that works incredibly fast, the part of your brain that knows you're in danger and applies the brakes long before you can say "What the HELL!". You know if you want pasta for tea the moment you're asked, your human brain then has to justify your other brain "Err... no thanks, we had that the other night."

I just felt right there. These last few paragraphs are my human brain trying to justify my ancient feelings. So yeah, I guess I shall be returning.

The next area I wish to explore is "The Rhins Of Galloway". I, we have been to Stranraer a few times now on our way to and from Northern Ireland, we've stopped in a swish hotel there once too. However I've yet to explore the hammerhead shaped peninsula, it appears to be rather nice. 

A map showing the area around Stranraer and the Rhins Of Galloway peninsular is circled
That's the bit I wish to explore, it's a little further than Kerr-coo-bree.

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

nab301 said :-
Nice , on your future planned trip , I've been to Stranraer on a bike just once many moons ago ,( actually the end of September 2005) but it was only a stepping stone of a whistle-stop tour on the way to Ullapool via Fort William , and you'll be pleased to hear it didn't involve camping although to be fair it was while not unpleasant , very wet and windy .
04/12/2023 14:35:00 UTC
CrazyFrog said :-
I can recommend Castle Bay camping site at Portpatrick, about 5 or 6 miles south of Stranraer. It has magnificent views over the Irish Sea from its cliff top location, with a ruined castle completing the view. There's a lovely cliff path walk down into the town where there's a couple of cafes, three pubs and a couple of shops. Transport the whole lot to Devon or Cornwall and you wouldn't be able to move for the crowds.
Posted Image
05/12/2023 08:05:51 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
Drummore, Maryport and The Mull are quieter areas of D and G, there's a bleakness and remoteness about the peninsula. I think Drummore had somewhere for camping, maybe, maybe not? I think we've been down there twice but in the middle of winter. It can be a little wild at that time of year. You'd need a bob hat.
Like just about any area, it can be overrun with groccles so beware of the Scottish school holiday dates which are different to England.
Thanks for the write up Ed.
05/12/2023 08:13:16 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Thanks gentlefolks. The campsite looks good CrazyFrog and the prices are acceptable too. The website makes no mention of a shop onsite but google streetmaps suggests there's "something" which could be handy. There appears to be only one small shop in Portpatrick and the village looks lovely.

I'd like to get to the Mull Lighthouse, the most southerly part of Scotland. This means I'll have been to Ardnamurchan, most westerly, Dunnet Head, most northerly which means after that I'll have to go to Keith Inch, the most easterly. Don't know that part of Scotland at all so it'll be a good excuse.
05/12/2023 13:08:26 UTC
CrazyFrog said :-
There is a small shop in the reception area selling the essentials Ren and a pub just over the road too, if you don't fancy the 10 mins walk down into town.
05/12/2023 19:31:34 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I think I'd manage the 10 minute walk into town CrazyFrog, however there seems to be the one small local shop in Portpatrick.
06/12/2023 20:11:53 UTC

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