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Day 14. Saturday, 11/06/2011: Dumfries to Irvine

Actual riding distance 129km. Ascent 757m. Total distance 1442km. Total ascent 13307m.

North of Dumfries.
After our normal breakfast we left Dumfries in a rather non-standard way. The GPS was programmed with the most direct route ignoring any NCN routes and we made a very quick getaway in doing so. Once out of Dumfries we followed the National Byway route rather than take the main road further north.

Our route was going to take us up out of the Nith valley, over into the Ken valley and again up and over into the Doon valley. The summit of the first pass is at 309m and the second at 302m. From Dumfries to Moniave the road generally follows the Cairn Water at a reasonable gradient. We had been recommended a tearoom in Moniaive by Ron’s parents and were very disappointed to find it didn’t open until half an hour after we arrived. There was an alternative but the cake display fridge had malfunctioned and all the cakes except a few scones were frozen solid. We opted for the scones needless to say.

Mossy wall in the forest.
Leaving Moniaive we met forest that shaded long sections of the road and here moss was growing profusely over the dry stane dykes. This looked very impressive and was on a par with mossy walls I had seen on the Mile Dorcha near Loch Arkaig and there the rainfall is very high.

Summit of climb from Moniave.
The road climbed in a comparatively gentle fashion up to the 309m summit but the view over into the Ken valley from the summit was poor due to the winding nature of the valley and the gentle gradient. In addition the westerly wind was now blowing quite well so we had to pedal down most of the descent to make reasonable progress.

Tearoom in Carsphairn.
We made another tearoom stop in Carsphairn at the building that seems to provide the village with most of its needs; post office, store, tearoom, hardware etc. There was quite a good selection of victuals available and soup and cakes were consumed ready for the next climb.

Into Ayrshire.
The last big climb took us over into the Doon valley where we had decided to visit one of the museums near Dalmellington. All of these seemed to have closed so we went along the road to the Heritage museum but this also was closed. The air of despair in this part of Ayrshire was quite apparent in Dalmellington, Patna and other smaller villages along the way.

Pass above Dalmellington.
The country side however was quite spectacular and in particular the valley that the road followed down into Dalmellington. The steep sides were striking after the open expanses seen higher up. Somewhere along this road Ron was noticing a clicking sound coming from his headset. Closer inspection revealed that it had managed to get overtightened so the Allan keys were dug out to get it sorted. A mechanical faff to Ron!

Burns cottage, Alloway.
Not finding anywhere for lunch yet we opted for a visit to the new Burns Museum in Alloway. This was heaving with people and despite the cold weather there were signs around warning of soft tar due to high temperatures. What they did have was a functioning cafe so we were at last able to get a late lunch.

Alloway Kirk.
The collection of Burns memorobilia around Alloway is spread out a bit so we had the chance to walk around and stretch our legs.

Brig o’Doon.
We visited Alloway Kirk and the Auld Brig o’Doon and the Burns Memorial and gardens which are quite close together. It is quite disappointing that the brig does not really serve any useful function as the only path over it disappears into a narrow muddy path between banks of nettles.

Statue of Tam o’Shanter and Soutar Johnnie.
Next to the Burns Memorial is a building that contains statues of Tam o’Shanter and Soutar Johnnie: my five greats grandfather. One of these days I will have to find out where he is buried.

From Ayr we made our way up to Irvine to our stop for the night. To say this was the pits would be an understatement. We discovered that we had room only so no breakfast and there was no personal presence there from the proprietor. The password of hardcash17 for the wireless gives a flavour of the mentality of the owner. The saving grace was that just along the road was an absolutely wonderful Italian restaurant with great staff and customers that made donations to our causes. Our thanks go to them for a great night in a great place.


Day 14 map
Day 14 track

Day 14 elev
Elevation plot Day 14