Drumlanrig castle - From the low country to the highlands and beyond - CycleBlaze

August 26, 2018

Drumlanrig castle

Our B&B hosts, Kate and Ian, have obviously recovered from the shock. Most of their guests, surely, arrive by car (of a size suitable for Scottish country lanes) and follow genteel pursuits while staying in Moniaive. 

After hearing of our mountain-biking experiences and witnessing our muddy van, bikes and selves at the end of each day, they recommend that we try riding the trails at a local castle for a change. Mountain bike trails on castle land? Why not?

So this morning we drive 20-odd minutes north-east to Drumlanrig Castle and set ourselves up for a rainy ride. A quick inspection of the castle buildings reveals an actual bike repair shop tucked into the old stableyard - a promising sign. It's closed, to our cost - as we'll find out later. We also see even more promising signs leading to the Castle tearooms. But first, the ride.

At the end of the stately drive we're met by this impressive sight - built in the late 1600s for the first Duke of Queensbury. For "Outlander" fans (that's me), Drumlanrig was used as a location for the second series.
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A before-the-ride selfie - clean and dry
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Strava tells me we ride only 9km today, but we have so much fun.   There are both walking and biking trails on the castle estate and we do our best to follow the appropriate signage but often lose our way. Progress is slow - it takes two hours to ride those 9 km, which suggests lots of pushing bikes through mud - and there's quite a bit of uphill too. These trails are a different world from the 7stanes tracks. Nothing too technical but certainly exhilarating.

We return to the van muddy and saturated and desperate for a sustenance. This is when we realise the true worth of our humble Ford Transit. After putting bikes safely away in the back, we climb in after them and, in complete privacy, are able to change out of wet things into café-appropriate clothing. The  tearoom, when we finally make it there for lunch, is part of the original castle kitchen and there's a variety of old cooking utensils on display.

But, to go back to that stableyard bike shop: There is an excellent bike wash available for riders' use, and the shop is now open. We chat to Rik the mechanic while washing the bikes and discover that we had indeed wandered far from the mountain bike trails onto walking routes on our ride. No wonder it was hard work! Maybe we will return to Drumlanrig - unfinished business . . .

We spot the castle away in the distance at the highest point of our ride
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For the rest of the afternoon, we head north to Glasgow to pay our respects. Time is limited and the rain continues to fall, but we enjoy the chance to park the van and wander a small portion of the streets, watching locals go about their business. 

Just going about his business . . .
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I'm not sure who the distinguished chappie is but the road cones certainly add something to his memorial
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Today's ride: 9 km (6 miles)
Total: 180 km (112 miles)

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