Monday, 14 August 2017

Back Roads to England

This is the fourth in my "Back Roads" series. It's a simple concept. I pick a destination and figure out a route there and back on minor roads. I'm looking for great biking roads, scenery, history and adventure!

In this episode I'm heading south, to England. The main road is the M74 (in places called the A74(M) for obscure reasons) There is also the old A74 now de-trunked and designated B7076 & B7078. But I'm looking for a more scenic and winding route. 

Studying the map I found a road I'm sure I've never been on. It starts in Carronbridge and heads for the Lowther Hills and the Forest of Ae.

I know I've complained about this before but come on guys, some road signs on  back roads would be helpful. We don't all have satnav.

But I found the way. The weatherman said it would be sunny but this was not really true.
Lost again. I'm sure this sign once contained useful information like "this road is a dead end in 2 miles".

Cattle grid in the hills.

Robert the Bruce statue in Lochmaben.

Silted up harbour in Annan.

This was interesting. The "Devil's Porridge Museum". The what? This is a new  museum on the site of a large First World War munitions factory that produced cordite. Cordite being the propellant in bullets and shells. The place was huge employing 15,000 workers, mostly women, to mix nitro-glycerine and guncotton to produce a paste. This was dubbed "the devil's porridge" by writer Arthur Conan Doyle who visited the factory. I didn't have time to go inside but I'll make a note to return.

Workers making cordite

Near Gretna I came across these cars waiting to race in a rally stage.

The motorway at the Scottish border

The River Esk at Longtown

Heading back into Scotland

The road between Canonbie and Langholm has been closed for some time because of a landslip. The local council don't seem to be in a rush to fix it but this earth mound placed to stop traffic is easy to get past.

They don't bother fixing pot holes either

Suspension footbridge in Langholm

Another excellent "Back Roads" run. I found some new roads and some interesting places. The day was slightly marred by uncharacteristicly bad behaviour from the CBF. It started misfiring and spluttering. Later that evening when I fuelled up it left a pool of petrol on forecourt. Oh well, excuse me, I've got a carburettor to strip……


  1. Nice write-up, that large pot hole you found is about a mile from my house, next time you go by call in and visit another FJ, Border crossing at Penton Linns is on my way home.

    1. I'm glad you like the post. Dumfries & Galloway is probably my favourite area for bike runs. You recognised the pot hole! - it really is a small world.

  2. Back roads are definitely the best, but it sounds like you have one of the same issues we see with no street signs on some of the backroads. You'd like to think you know where you are but sometimes you just have to guess.

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. The road into the Lowther Hills was a tricky one. I've never ridden it before. It doesn't really go directly to anywhere just access to farms so there's not much to sign. It also follows a looping route so you have to start going northeast to go south. I don't want to fit satnav so I'll have to keep relying on map-reading.

  3. Back road riding is my favourite too. This is how you gather all these little snippets. Well done Stuart. And more please?