This is the return part of the circular route - all on quiet roads.
This return route goes through the village of Keir Mill where the world's first pedal powered bicycle was invented. Prior to this there had only been hobby horses - you pushed on the ground with your feet. In 1842 Kirkpatrick Macmillan made the crucial step of inventing pedals so enabling effective propulsion. These were attached to levers and then attached to the rear wheel. This proved a success. He never patented his idea and it was widely copied. You can see the smithy where he worked near Keir Mill.
Fellow villagers thought him mad for dreaming up the idea. Look out for a brass plaque on the smithy where Kirkpatrick MacMillan worked just before reaching Keir Mill. He rode his cumbersome machine 68 miles over rough roads from his home to Glasgow to visit his two school teacher brothers. In June 1842 the inventor was fined 5 shillings for speeding at 8 mph into the Gorbals and knocking down a little girl in the crush that awaited this devil on wheels. The magistrate was sufficiently impressed to ask Macmillan for a figure-of-eight demonstration in the courtyard, and is said to have slipped him the money for the fine. You might also like to look for his gravestone in Keir Mill graveyard. It's in the old graveyard which is on the right down a lane 50 metres beyond the church leaving the village. It's the only grey coloured gravestone. A reproduction of his bicycle is on display in the cycle museum in Drumlanrig Castle together with many others, all of later date.
This describes the return part of a circular route from St Johns Town of Dalry to Drumlanrig Castle and return. This return route is on quiet back roads.
Leave Drumlanrig Castle via the west back entry passing a woodland walks sign and a pond; turn left on to the public road. After this just keep on to Penpont, cross the A702 and continue to Keir Mill. Look out for a brass plaque on the smithy where Kirkpatrick MacMillan (the inventor of the bicycle) worked just before reaching Keir Mill. You might also like to look for MacMillan's gravestone in Keir Mill graveyard. It's in the old graveyard which is down a lane 50 metres after the church leaving the village. It's the only grey coloured gravestone. One might have thought that it would be lovingly cared for by groups of cyclists who regularly came with flowers but this does not appear to be the case.
After Keir Mill the route continues south following the River Nith until you turn right at Glenmidge. Midges may not be present, but the glen is easily identifiable as the hills by the road suddenly get very steep. After this cross the B729 to Dunscore. (Village shop, real ale in the George Hotel). The correct route going west out of Dunscore is a descent to the river (Cairn Water). A climb south (church and graveyard) is the wrong way. West of Dunscore the route is a narrow quiet road through moorland and forest until you reach the A712. At Balmaclellan there's a village shop and a shoe-making workshop The tea rooms of St John's Town of Dalry are not far either!