Scotland offers some of the best riding in the British Isles. And you don’t even have to go all the way to the Highlands to sample it. Some of the top roads are just over the border from England.
Dave Smith from the Buccleuch Arms hotel in Moffat is a keen biker, and knows the area like the back of his hand. He regularly devices riding routes for his guests, so we asked him for some inspiration for a cracking ride in the Scottish Borders. This is the route he suggested…
The route that Dave planned is a circular one, and can be ridden in either direction, but we did it clockwise. The scenery along this route varies from pleasant to breathtaking. The roads seem to be fairly quiet, but services are geared towards tourists, so you will find petrol, food, drink and things to do off the bike. And wildlife is about in abundance.
From Moffat, the A701 takes you down to Dumfries. This is a big, fast A road, a nice warm-up for the rest of the ride.
The A76 heads north from Dumfries, towards Thornhill. The road passes fields of cows and farms, and the riding is easy.
The B797 then leads to the Mennock Pass through Wanlockhead, the highest village in Scotland, at an elevation of around 466.6m (1,531ft). The road is small, and the village high. If you start your journey further away, remember that temperatures can be quite different when you arrive to the Borders, especially when hitting high ground. An extra layer can make a huge difference in how much enjoyment you get from your ride.
You might well spot a Golden Eagle gliding in the sky round here as years of careful conservation activity in the area have seen a significant increase in Golden Eagles nesting in the Scottish Borders. At the moment, there are around 30 nesting pairs in the Borders region.
Our route continues towards Libberton on the A73. From there, we take the B7016 to Biggar. Biggar, then the A72 to Peebles.
From Peebles the route continues towards Selkirk on the A72, following River Tweed, where you might spot a few of fishers trying their luck.
One thing to note about the whole length of the route is that there’s a lot of sheep round here. Most of the time they are not a problem, but from January to March they can be a bit more jittery than normal because of lambing. Also, when the lambs are still young, they will run to their mothers across the roads regardless of what’s coming at them.
Just before Selkirk, the route takes a right towards Moffat on the A708.
After a coffee and cake at the Waterwheel café and salmon viewing centre, right at the start of the A708, we abandon the A roads for smaller Broads, and start winding our way towards Eskdalemuir on the B709. Before we reach Esdalemuir, there’s the Samye Ling Buddhist monastery. Not what you’d expect around the Scottish Borders, but it’s beautiful and tranquil, and in a strange way it fits in.
After Eskdalemuir we turn right to B723 towards Boreland, then right again for the last stretch to Moffat. Time for some grub, and a well-earnt drink.
Where to stay
There’s plenty of choice, but we stayed at the Buccleuch Arms in Moffat, run by Dave (who planned the route) and his family.
In addition to great rooms, food and drink, they have garages for bikes, routes of the area, and all manner of bike-related services you might need on your trip.
For further information, visit www.buccleucharmshotel.com