I had been dreading today, the thought of walking for 5 hrs along the A75 held little appeal to me. Anybody that has driven along this road will know how busy it gets, especially with the number of lorries on their way to the ferries at Stranraer.
My options for covering this section of the coast were limited; I could divert inland (quite a bit) on quieter roads or I could negotiate a route along the A75. I studied my map and using Google street view, and could see that parts of the road could be bypassed by quieter roads running parallel to the A75. I could also see that only about 5 miles of my route along the road would be on verges, other sections along the road had a footpath. The verge along most of the road was also quite generous.
So off I went, first by driving from my hotel in Creetown and parking in Newton Stewart, then catching the 07:05 #502 bus to Gatehouse of Fleet. I walked out of Gatehouse towards the A75 and began an initial 3 mile stretch along the road. Even at this time of the morning the road was busy, not so much with cars but the large lorries which thundered past me creating a whirlwind of eddies. At times it was like walking up the hard shoulder of the M1.
After a couple of miles I relaxed a little, but still using all of the verge to keep a safe distance. I was relieved when the signs for a small road to my right meant I could divert on a minor road which ran parallel with the A75 for 3 miles. I could enjoy the views from this qiuet road, with its elevated position offering great views across Wigtown Bay to The Machars. My quiet road returned to the A75 and I was faced with another 2 miles of verge walking. I made good progress and was pleased to see Carsluith Castle, which meant I could continue through Carsluith along a section of the “old road” for a few miles. I returned to the A75 again, but this time along a footpath. Although the footpath was the same distance from the road as my verge-walking, it sort of gave more confidence. The next diversion off the A75 was the road into Creetown, where I had spent last night. This would see me off the A75 for quite a way, although I could still hear the noise from the road all the way to Newton Stewart.
I walk through Creetown, passing the clock tower with its wonderfully carved wooden door. Although the road I am on ultimately leads back to the A75, I will make a right turn where cycle route #7 makes climbs slightly and joins an old railway route long since used. The route moves slowly away from the main road and eventually leads to Graddoch Bridge. I remember this area from 2011, where I parked my car when climbing Cairnsmore of Fleet. Here I join a quiet lane which leads to the Old Bridge at Palnure. I cross the Palnure Burn and continue along an old military road through Stronord and Balckcraig. The road climbs steeply uphill over Daltamie Hill and then down towards the A75 which I rejoin along an excellent cycle path.
I soon reach the final turn-off for the day as I follow the New Galloway Road and cross the River Cree into Newton Stewart. I take 5.5 hours to complete the journey and although not the best of walks I am glad it is over.
NB: I also publish all my Scottish Blog entries on the excellent Scottish Hills website, I use the same narrative, but larger photos and a few extra ones. They can be found here:
Distance today = 19.5 miles
Total distance = 1858.5 miles