A bikeride through Crawfordjohn




May 2012
60 km



This is another tour I had wanted to do for some years. But it had always been put on the backburner due to my unhealthy scepticism of the Sanquhar to Kilmarnock road. A road which gave me a lot of pain and troubles on the Wanlockhead ride back in 2006. But I decided to give it another try this year. I got my bike repaired (so I thought) and prepared myself for this ride.



I woke up to a hot morning at 0500 and set off to the railway station in Paisley after I had stocked up on a lot of drink bottles. I was going to need them, I thought. The train took me first to Glasgow Central Station and then the one hour long train journey to my now familiar start off point in Lanark. Lanark is situated high above Glasgow and pretty much on the verges of the Southern Uplands. It is therefore an excellent start off point for rides into these mountains and hills. I disembarked from the train and went down the A73 to the bridge crossing Clyde before I joined A70. Both myself and the bike was working fine. The heat was becoming a problem though when I cycled up the A70 towards Uddington. The ride up A70 is a pretty hard ride and the heat at around 0900 did not make it easier. This was going to be a sweat-fest and I was glad I had brought with me a lot of water. After a descent into the valley again, I reached the roundabouts under the busy M74 and chose the ex Glasgow to London road; the now traffic free B7078. A road that climbs up alongside M74 to a moor. I had big problems with this climb back in 2006 and it had made me fear it. But this year and despite the hot weather, I had no problems with this pretty long climb. I guess an improvement in my mental attitude and physical form is the reason for the sudden improvement of this road.



Looking back down the hill




Looking south on the B7078 road from the top of the climb

The climb was merely one kilometer long before it topped out and the road descended down to a moor. The road was desolate and only the faint noises from the nearby M74 disturbed the idyllic sound of silence. The tarmac on this old road was a bit broken up and the long, long descent down to the moor not particular enjoyable. I reached the crossroad to Crawfordjohn and took this road (B740) straight west.



From the road to Crawfordjohn, looking back at B7078 towards Uddington

The road had mercyfully a lot better tarmac and it climbed up to a small hill, then descended down to a bridge before a short, vertical climb took me up to a small hill. Crawfordjohn appeared beneath this hill.



Crawfordjohn

Crawfordjohn was a pretty vibrant community when it was the crossroad on the roads crossing Scotland from east, west, north and south. But it was first bypassed by B7078 and then finally by M74. It is now the byword for “remote” and “backwaters”. I only met a handful of cars here and the place felt dead when I cycled through it. No shops, no pubs...... nothing. But it is still an idyllic place and absolute well worth visiting on a bike or in a car. It is still an important crossroad with roads going over to M74, Muirkirk, Wanlockhead and Sanquhar. All of them superb bikerides.
The road climbed out of Crawfordjohn before reaching the crossroad between Muirkirk and Sanquhar. I took the B740 towards Sannquhar down past a river before the road climbed a bit again to a top pretty high (10-20 meters) above the valley floor below. This ride was even better than I thought and I was thrilled about it.



Looking back towards east on the road, 3 km from Crawfordjohn




The valley floor below, looking north

I cycled on and the road descended down to a farm at the end of this moor. Some line dancing sheep in the middle of the road was greeting me. But they disappeared when I lined them up for a photo shoot. So I was left to take two photos of the road and the landscape instead.



Looking back at the end of the road




The top/the beginning of the canyon taking me down to the A76 & Sanquhar

I was really looking forward to this long ride down the canyon and it did not disappoint. The road surface was excellent and the landscape excellent. I will let the following pictures tell the story about this 10 km long canyon.



Looking back up the canyon towards the top of it




A side valley of the canyon




Looking down the canyon




Looking down towards the end of the canyon

A small climb took me out of the canyon before the final descent down under a railway bridge to the busy A76 a kilometer north of Sanquhar. I took the road up the valley towards Kilmarnock and was looking forward to a meal in Kirkconnel. I arrived in this small village and found a sandwich shop. A small sandwich followed before I started on the 15 km bikeride up to New Cumnock. I had big problems on these 15 km back in 2006 and was apprehensive when I started to climb up to the graveyard. But the climb was pretty easy even in this baking hot heatwave.



Looking down the valley towards Kirkconnel




Looking up the valley towards the hidden New Cumnock

The road was easy until I heard a crack from the rear wheel and it became very wobbly. The supposed fixed rear axle had snapped again. I was furious about it and continued on the pretty easy ride to the railway station in New Cumnock where I accidently caught a train with a minute to spare. I was both lucky and despondent over having to fork out more train fares again for something I had been assured had been fixed by the cycle repair shop.

The train fare was very cheap this time and I arrived back in Paisley again through Glasgow one hour later. I was very angry about the rear wheel which had given me nothing but problems since I had bought it three months previously. I filed a warranty claim and got my money back after an angry exchange of words. I felt ripped off and that is indeed what I had been. I took my bike minus the rear wheel to a nationwide bicycle repair centre a couple of streets away and got it fixed there with the old rear wheel (which I brought them the day after) I had been assured was damaged beyond repair by the other repair centre. A claim the nationwide repair centre refuted.


Conclusion



This bikeride was meant to be a 120 km long bikeride on the A76 & A735 over Kilmarnock and Stewarton back to Paisley. Due to the rear wheel breaking down again, that was not to be. On paper and in reallity, this is an excellent ride and I will return to complete it one day. The ride over Crawfordjohn to Kirkconnel and New Cumnock is an excellent ride and highly recommended in itself.