This version is on quiet back roads.
Drumlanrig Castle is a fine mansion of pink sandstone standing in the woods of Nithsdale. It was completed in 1690 by William Douglas. He died in 1695, ruined it was said by the expense of building it. His son James Douglas, performed a crucial role in the Treaty of Union between England and Scotland, some of the negotiations took place at the castle. Cyclists from Edinburgh may notice some similarity between the castle and George Heriots School in Edinburgh. Both were planned by the same architect, William Wallace.
The formal gardens are lovely, there is a very attractive walk to a lake.The castle eventually passed to the Dukes of Buccleuch and it is due to them that the castle has become a treasure house full of beautiful works of art. There are many lovelyl rooms containing, amongst other things, Rembrant's masterpiece: An Old Woman Reading. There is also a good tea room in the former kitchen.
The area is noteable because the village of Keir Mill was 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. 160 years ago Kirkpatrick Macmillan made the crucial step of inventing pedals. You can see the smithy where he worked near Keir Mill. Look out for a brass plaque on the smithy where Kirkpatrick MacMillan worked just before reaching Keir Mill. You might also like to look for his 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 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 outward part of a circular route from St Johns Town of Dalry to Drumlanrig Castle. The route via Moniaive uses quiet public roads.
Leave St Johns Town of Dalry going east (uphill) on the A702 and continue on it for just over two miles. Turn left to a minor road signed Lochinvar. After you pass the loch and a small historic schoolhouse turn right at every public road junction until you get to Moniave. There are open views most of the way but the final descent into Moniaive on the B729 is through a forest.
The pretty village of Moniaive has two hotels serving food and a post office/shop. Keep straight on in Moniaive, passing in front of the Craigdarroch Arms Hotel signed Thornhill. Immediately after, by a garage, turn left, signed Tynron. This is a very steep climb then a steep descent. In Tynron make sure you cross over the river (Shinnel Water). After Tynron turn left on to the A702. There's a mile on this (fairly quiet). For Drumlanrig Castle turn left at Penpont. The entry point to Drumlanrig castle is 3 miles up this road. This is not the main entrance to the castle so don't miss the turning. The castle has a tea room.
If you are not going to Drumlanrig Castle but heading for Mennock you could take a left turn before Penpont, up the Scar Water road. This is really beautiful but quite hilly. If you are going to Mennock avoid going on the A76 which carries heavy traffic.