Let’s try this one again now that I have sorted out the phone issues… Yesterday, I quickly posted the following message before the phone died:
“It seems unlikely that my iPhone will cope with the story of the day (see recent posts) but it was a 70 km cycle over the moor and tomorrow I head for Belfast. More details when I can give them…”
It’s now Thursday evening and I am indeed in Belfast. Cycling day 13 was yesterday and started, for one of the rare occasions, in bright blue sunshine at the campsite next to Culzean Castle (remember, the one where you don’t pronounce the z).
My route for the day had been influenced by a friend from back home. Craig was staying with his in-laws who run a B&B in a small village called Dunragit. As Dunragit, on the southern end of Dumfries & Galloway, was only a short distance from Cairnryan – the port from where the ferries depart for Belfast – it made absolute sense to take him up on his offer of accommodation that would also allow me access to the Internet to book the ferry, find a place to stay and, crucially, reserve a slot at the Apple Store in Belfast to have my phone fixed.
Continuing to cycle along the busy A-Road from Culzean to Dungarit would have been an unpleasant option so I found a route inland that proved to be a real gem for cycling. That said, the inland route didn’t branch off the main coastal road until Girvan. Prior to Girvan the lorries had to be endured; the offshore island of Ailsa Craig was a stunning distraction to my right. To my left was the rather garish distraction of Trump Turnberry. The first thing to be spotted was the over-size Saltire flapping majestically but completely at odds with its more tasteful surroundings beside one of the golf club buildings. Then came the hotel; an elongated Georgian mansion of a place. Black Range Rovers dominated in the car park. It was all rather gaudy and distasteful. A bit like the man himself. I asked a security guard speaking with a brummy accent and wearing a kilt what the locals thought of Trump. He had clearly been on the training course to fend off such questions telling me how wonderfully generous the orange buffoon had been in refurbishing the place. I cycled on.
Lunch from Greggs in Girvan propelled me up the road into the wilderness of Dumfries & Galloway. Basically, I was following the railway line to Stranraer. It’s still a functioning line although I never saw a train. For anyone taking the train it must be a real treat as it passes through remote moorland with only sheep, a few cattle, sporadic forest and the rather more unnatural fields of wind turbines. Rather them than a coal-fired power station on the horizon.
If I was passed by more than five cars during the 40 or so kilometres over the moor I would be surprised. Beautiful landscape, beautiful cycling on a single track road punctuated with sporadic cattle grids. It more than made up for the at-times challenging Ayrshire road surfaces that I had been introduced to on the previous day. You can’t have it all…
Civilisation was abruptly rejoined upon arrival at New Luce and from there on in it was a gentle descent back to sea level.
I met up with Craig and his family as I was taking the photograph above – the only one my phone could cope with before dying once again. At the B&B the logistics for the trip to Belfast were sorted and a good evening was had by all. It was a welcome pit stop along the way and I was able to head off to bed in the knowledge that I not only had a clean set of clothes in my pannier but a ferry and accommodation booked and an iPhone on the way to being repaired, perhaps…