Welcome to our newest cycling adventure in Scotland – the Kirkpatrick C2C! South of Scotland’s answer to a classic coast-to-coast road cycling route, the Kirkpatrick C2C takes you from Stranraer in Dumfries and Galloway on the west coast to Eyemouth in the Scottish Borders on the east coast, covering 250 miles of stunning scenery and fascinating history along the way.
While the route itself is not yet signposted, it mostly follows National Cycle Network routes 1, 7 and 73. It’s suitable for experienced cyclists who can handle a few “cheeky” climbs and descents along otherwise rolling terrain. Over the course of 4 cycling days, with daily distances from 48 to 74 miles, your efforts are rewarded with stunning views of the coast, hills, lochs, viaducts and abbeys along the way, as well as plenty of opportunities to explore the rich history and culture of the South of Scotland.
Home Of The First Bike
The newly inaugurated cycling route pays homage to Kirkpatrick MacMillan, a skilled blacksmith hailing from Dumfriesshire. MacMillan is renowned for inventing the very first pedal-driven bicycle, also known as the velocipede, during the 1830s.
His innovative spirit not only revolutionised the realm of transportation but also reflected his daring sense of adventure as MacMillan undertook a memorable journey from Dumfriesshire to Glasgow and back on his new invention, covering an impressive (at the time!) distance of 140 miles over two days.
Regrettably, MacMillan never pursued the idea of patenting his groundbreaking creation or capitalising on its commercial potential and replica bikes soon flooded the market. The Kirkpatrick C2C stands as a testament to MacMillan’s enduring legacy and the pivotal role played by the South of Scotland in shaping the evolution of the modern bicycle.
A Forgotten Legend
In celebration of cyclings Scottish roots, our friends at Endura recreated MacMillan’s bike and invited Endura athletes and professional riders to ride it all the way from MacMillan’s birthplace in Thornhill, all the way to the Riverside Museum on the banks of the River Clyde in Glasgow. Watch their short film about this fascinating project highlighting a forgotten piece of history:
Over our summer recce week along the Kirkpatrick C2C, we discovered beautiful and varied scenery, and welcoming hospitality in each of the charming villages along the route. Some of the highlights for us include:
- Stranraer, a bustling port town on the shores of Loch Ryan. The medieval tower of Castle of St John offers panoramic views of the town and the loch.
- Kirkcudbright, an artists’ town with a colourful harbour, a castle (with Rapunzel in the window!) and a museum dedicated to Kirkpatrick MacMillan.
- Literary aficionados will appreciate the route’s various connections to Robert Burns, Peter Pan author JM Barrie, poet Hugh MacDiarmid, and Scotland’s National Book Town of Wigtown.
- Circled by hills, Langholm and the Eskdale valley boasts some of the quietest roads and most stunning scenery in the South of Scotland. As we cycle to the nearby town of Newcastleton, we pass through one of the most scenic parts of the route—Langholm Moor. Be on the lookout for grouse, hovering raptors and wild goats!
- Enjoy a Selkirk Bannock with your tea or coffee. A sweet bread originating from the town of Selkirk in the Scottish Borders, it typically contains flour, butter, sugar, and dried fruit. This baked treat has a rich history and is often associated with special occasions. Kind of like the Scottish panettone!
- Melrose, a picturesque town with a stunning abbey where the heart of Robert the Bruce is buried. Here you will admire one of the most impressive Gothic buildings in Scotland, as well as explore some nearby attractions like Abbotsford House and Scott’s View scenic point.
- Cycling over the Union Chain Bridge to cross from our brief stint in Northumberland in England back to Scotland above the River Tweed. It was the longest wrought iron suspension bridge at the time of its opening in 1820. Coldstream, the town just on the other side, gave its name to the Coldstream Guards, one of the oldest regiments in the British Army.
- Eyemouth, a fishing port on the east coast that marks the end of our journey. Here we celebrate our arrival by enjoying some fresh seafood or a cheeky ice cream!
Whisky & Wool
This being Scotland, there are numerous distilleries along the route to sample some of the finest whisky in the country. We’ll pass by the Craft Distillery in Stranraer and the country’s southernmost distillery at Bladnoch with its famous single malt. In the town of Hawick you’ll find the Borders Distillery, the first whisky distillery to open in the Scottish Borders since 1837.
In addition to the distillery, the town of Hawick is renowned for its knitwear industry with notable producers like Barrie Knitwear. A wholly-owned subsidiary of Chanel, they are a leading manufacturer of premium cashmere, creating luxury knitwear for some of the most prestigious fashion houses worldwide. Be sure to leave some extra room in your luggage!
It’s Scotland So Come Prepared
This is Scotland so the weather along this route is unpredictable and changeable. You’ll need to be prepared for anything. You can expect some sunny days, some cloudy days, some rainy days, some windy days, and that’s just Day 1! Pack some layers that can keep you warm, dry, and comfortable in different situations.
Add The Kirkpatrick C2C To Your Scotland Bucket List
As you can see, there is plenty to enjoy along the Kirkpatrick C2C route. In addition to breathtaking scenery, you’ll learn about Scotland’s rich history and culture, from ancient kings and queens to modern inventors and poets. You will meet friendly locals who will welcome you with their hospitality and humour. And you will have an unforgettable cycling adventure that will challenge you and inspire you to explore more of Scotland.
So what are you waiting for? Join us to experience the thrill of riding across Scotland in a short time and feel proud of your achievement. The Kirkpatrick C2C awaits you!