A 41-mile circular: Newton Stewart - Glen Trool - Clatteringshaws (27 miles, part off-road) then return to Newton Stewart (14 miles). Also a road route Newton Stewart to St John's Town.
The Bruce's Stone is at the top of the hill on the north side of Loch Trool. This massive granite memorial celebrates Robert the Bruce's first victory over the English leading to his subsequent success at Bannockburn. This is also the start point of a popular hill walk to the Merrick (2764 feet), the highest hill in southern Scotland. Clatteringshaws Loch was formed in 1935 when the River Dee was dammed. The water is piped to Glenlee power station. This was the first large scale hydro-electric power scheme that was developed in Scotland; it preceeded those in the highlands which were all developed after World War 2. The wild goats which you may see as you cycle through this area are feral goats (domestic goats which have gone wild). Their young are born in January and February so you are likely to see them if you are going through in the spring. If goats are disturbed they make an explosive hiss through their nostrils, this can carry half a mile. Roe deer are also quite common.
Circular Route (described clockwise)
In Newton Stewart bike over the bridge to Minnigaff, cycle past the youth hostel (old school) and turn left (north). The road winds past a church and along the east bank of the River Cree. After three miles it passes the Wood of Cree bird reserve. Turn right half a mile after you cross the Water of Trool, then turn right at a T junction by the Water of Minnoch. There's a visitor centre here with a tea room. The Glen Trool road climbs steeply, ending at the Bruce's Stone commemorating Robert the Bruce's first victory; the view is pretty good too, and you can see the next section of the route which is off-road. Continue down a steeply plunging dirt track crossing two bridges and cattle grids to enter oak woods. A newly constructed dirt road takes you across the Glenhead Burn. Turn left to continue east at the T junction. There is a climb then a fast descent to Loch Dee.
Pass Loch Dee and White Laggan Bothy (rough shelter). You can stay there for nothing but you need a sleeping bag, stove etc. The only point that needs care is to look out for the left turn crossing the River Dee. You'll be flying downhill at that point so it's easily missed. When you get to the A712 turn right. After a mile you pass Clatteringshaws Visitor Centre (tea room). You can return to Newton Stewart on the A712, this is fairly quiet but it's best to avoid most of it by using the Old Edinburgh Road (entry at Black Loch car park, number 27 indicator on the road) and the minor roads near Minigaff. These are both prettier and quieter than the A712. The Old Edinburgh Road is a dirt road.
Newton Stewart - St Johns Town by public road (22 miles)
In Newton Stewart bike over the bridge to Minnigaff, cycle past the youth hostel (old school) keep straight on at this point (ie don't turn left). This first section is attractive with views of Penkiln Burn and mixed woodland. The road up the Glen is a dead end so remember to take a right turn after two miles (there is only one right turn). When you meet the A712 turn left. Despite being an ""A"" road the A712 is fairly quiet. The route is a well graded climb to Clatteringshaws Loch. On the way you pass the Wild Goat Park where wild goats congregate during the tourist season hoping to be fed. The visitor centre at Clatteringshaws Loch has excellent wildlife displays and a tea room. The loch itself was formed in 1935 when the River Dee was dammed. The water is piped to Glenlee power station.
After Clatteringshaws Loch Visitor Centre continue up the A712 for just over a mile then turn left up a minor road signed Glenlee. After Glenlee it's only two miles to St. John's Town of Dalry. Turn right at the T junction in the village then left at the A762. When you get to the power station turn right to cross the river (Water of Ken) joining the A713 to get to Dalry.