Newton Stewart to New Lanark
I struggled to get out of bed for breakfast at 8.00 am today. I slept well, but the early start yesterday was probably taking its toll. I was away on the dot of 9am, and within a couple of minutes had taken the first wrong turning of the day! It was soon corrected, and I was beginning a steady climb up into the Galloway hills. Although overcast, the day was dry, and was to continue to improve.
I passed a dam at Clatteringshaw, and would have stopped for a coffee at the centre there, but it wasn’t yet open. I had been told about it by a Mancunian who had relocated to Newton Stewart ten years ago after falling in love with the place while on holiday. He didn’t need to work, having taken early retirement, but worked three evenings a week in the local Costcutter, as it was a good way to keep in touch with the community. He was extolling the fact that there was a caring community in Newton Stewart, and I had to agree that in these days of isolation and ‘me first’, it was a rare thing indeed, and something to be treasured.
As I continued my climb into the hills, I came upon signs warning me of red deer, wild goats and red squirrels. Although I kept a lookout, they were just as elusive as the Belted Galloways had been yesterday. What I did see, which took my breath away, was a large bird of prey, circling over the fields. It disappeared before I could get the camera out, of course, but lifted my spirits.
They were soon dashed when a couple of minutes later I rode hard over a hole that I didn’t see in time in dappled shade, and I punctured my back wheel. I think that it was a ‘pinch flat’, where the inner tube gets nipped, normally caused by the tyre pressure not being high enough. I certainly couldn’t find anything in the outer tyre to cause it. I replaced the tube and pumped it up. I then thought that I would check the pressure in the front tyre. It was a bit low, so I pumped that up as well. When I unscrewed the adapter, however, the valve unscrewed as well, and I lost more air than I had put in! This happened once more, so I gave the valve a good tighten with pliers and was then able to get the job done.
As well as feeling tired today, there was a bit of a headwind, and these two, combined with the hills and the puncture, really slowed me down. By the time I stopped for lunch in Penpont at 1pm, I had only cycled 42 miles. Armwarmers and gilet were off, however, and the tan was getting topped up.
I felt strengthened after lunch, and the rest of the day passed unremarkably. Although I did not see any Belted Galloways, I did see my first Longhorn cattle, looking suitably shaggy and miserable. I also saw a charming sign on a railway bridge, exhorting drivers to ‘Please, Please drive carefully, and look out for small animals’. Chance would be a fine thing. I did once think that I spotted a pheasant in a field, but that was it.
As Dumfries and Galloway came to an end, I saw a lorry being loaded up with freshly felled timber from an enormous pile by the road. It must be big business up here.
South Lanarkshire welcomed me with the strapline ‘Thriving on safe driving’. As most of the metal snow poles at the side of the road had been belt out of shape, this might more accurately have read ‘Striving for safe driving’, but maybe I’m just being picky.
At one stage, a herd of cows in a field started running towards me as I passed them. I was very glad that this didn’t happen yesterday, with no fence and wall to separate us.
Coming into Lanark I stopped at Halfords to replace the punctured inner tube, which had a 1/4 inch split in it, and which I didn’t think would mend well. I arrived, down a steep hill, at the youth hostel at 5pm, with 85 miles done. The hostel is in New Lanark, ‘new’ being a relative term, as the buildings date from the eighteenth century. I think I noticed a sign as I entered Lanark that it was founded in 1140, so compared to that it is new.
It is a lovely place, and thankfully there is a hotel down here, as I don’t want to climb back up that hill more than once. I have just had fish and chips, and am about to order pudding. Plenty of calories for tomorrow!
Day 2 statistics
Miles ridden: 85.1
Feet climbed: 4602
Wildlife types warned about but not seen: 3
Wildlife types not warned about but seen: 1