A scenic circular, also part of the long distance Stranraer to Dunbar route.
Some suggested eating places.
New Luce - The Kenmuir Arms has an attractive beer garden by a river, food is served 1pm to 2.30pm and 7pm to 9pm. They also have accommodation or you can camp (01581-600218).
Tarf Bridge - The Torwood House Hotel is up a bumpy dirt drive but the interior of the hotel is interesting and there is an attractive beer garden at the rear. Bar lunches and evening meals (01581-300469).
Glenluce - Good choice of hotels, pubs and shops. If the weather is warm you might also consider buying food and picnicing at the seaside near Stair Haven where there is a picnic site.
Glenluce Abbey was founded in 1191 and was occupied by about 20 monks, plus of course an abbot. In the 16th century it was prey to the nearby landed families, in particular the Hays of Park who's castle, the Castle of Park is nearby. This is just west of Glenluce, access from the A75. It has been recently restored. Despite being the son of the abbot of Glenluce, Thomas Hay of Park is said to have plundered the abbey for building stone to construct his castle. Whether you approve of this or not the castle is well worth seeing and is understandably more complete than the abbey.
The lovely gardens and lakes of Castle Kennedy were designed by William Adam. They were constructed at huge expense but there was no accompanying house as it was destroyed by fire in 1716 when a maid failed to extinguish a fire in the drawing room. Only three pictures, the ruins you see, and the occupants survived.
An attractive circular route with good views of the forests, hills and coastline of Galloway. There are plenty of attractive places to picnic but also places where you could have a bar lunch or afternoon tea. The route description is anti-clockwise beginning from Newton Stewart but the information on the map will enable you to do it in either direction. Turn left off the A714 north of Newton Stewart to the B7027. The road becomes quieter but a little hillier. There's a steady climb through trees, a fast downhill, and you pass two small lochs on the left. Turn left over a small stone bridge to a minor road crossing the River Bladnoch. After this you climb gently for five miles, keep straight on at the junction with the phone box. You pass a caravan park opposite some lochs, ignore the right turn for New Luce unless you are going to Stranraer. The short diversion to look at Glenluce Abbey (a ruin) is worthwhile, take care on the steep descent. Quite near too is the Castle of Park which has been restored recently; information about both of these is in About the Route. After the abbey it's a short distance to Glenluce where there are hotels and shops.
To continue south cross the A75 taking the minor road opposite the junction on the west side of Glenluce - take care! Shortly after Stair Haven, at Glen of Luce, you join the A747 for three miles. This is not particularly busy but traffic can be fast, so take extra care until you turn left off it on to the B7005. The B7005 climbs through trees at first, then levels off in open country. Beyond this it's a gentle downhill through mixed woodland. After this the route back to Newton Stewart is a lovely ride through rolling farmland with the hills of Cairnsmore of Fleet forming a scenic backdrop. You can't unfortunately avoid a very short section on the A75 but be sure to turn off it on to the minor road on the map to avoid the roundabout at the A714 Junction.
Link route - Stranraer to Tarf Bridge
Leave Stranraer on the A75. Shortly after passing a school with playing fields turn right at a sign: Industrial Estate. After 200 metres turn left to a minor road (no sign). After this follow Southern Upland Way signs (thistle symbol on post). Turn left under a rail bridge at a T junction. After the bridge you can either go off-road by following the thistle symbols to Castle Kennedy or continue on the road.
OFF-ROAD - follow the thistle symbols through a wood then continue through Castle Kennedy Village to Castle Kennedy, take care crossing the A75.
ON-ROAD - after turning left under the rail bridge continue on past a quarry to Inch Parish Church on the A75. Turn right and cycle along the A75 footpath to Castle Kennedy Village. Taking care, cross the A75 to enter the grounds of Castle Kennedy.
Go through the grounds of Castle Kennedy following southern Upland Way Signs. Keep on the tarmac until you reach the coach park, then turn right to a dirt track with a thistle symbol post. Turn left at the public road. (If coming in the opposite direction you will see Cults Loch just before this entry point.) Continue along the minor road for five miles to New Luce. This is a very pretty village with a pub and shop. Turn right in New Luce, then first left after the pub to continue to Tarf Bridge.