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Cyclist gives thumbs up to new regional route

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By Fiona Reid
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Cyclist gives thumbs up to new regional route

A FASTEST time to beat has been set on the new Kirkpatrick C2C, South of Scotland’s Coast to Coast cycling route.

As it prepares to launch, experienced local cyclist Josh Wood from Shawhead was invited to road test the 250 miler – and completed it in just over 23 hours.

And his efforts also raised much needed funds for the Mossburn Animal Centre at Hightae.

Cycling instructor Josh, 38, was invited to try out the C2C from Stranraer to Eyemouth by the South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA).

Sharing his feedback, Josh said: “The route was so beautiful and varied, with stunning views across the sea contrasting with some amazing wild open spaces and lots of lovely small towns and villages.

“Even though I was going as fast as I could to set the fastest known time, I saw lots of wildlife along the way including hedgehogs, owls and deer. I felt as if I was completely away from it all even though I was actually never far from a coffee stop.

“I live in Dumfries and Galloway but the whole route helped me rediscover how much there is on offer in the South of Scotland especially in the Borders where I don’t ride in as much. The route is a great challenge for experienced cyclists and I’d encourage riders to come and give it a go!”

The new route is expected to be a huge draw for the South of Scotland, with initial projections suggesting it could attract up to 175,000 new visitors, with a direct spend of £13.7m per year.

The start and end signs will be installed this summer, with full signage completed by spring 2024.

Named after Kirkpatrick Macmillan, the 19th century Dumfriesshire blacksmith who invented the first pedal-driven velocipede, it can be tackled as an eight-day explorer or a four-day challenge. Daily cycling distances can therefore vary from 21 miles to a 74 mile stretch, with stops including Newcastleton, Hawick, Dumfries, Kirkcudbright and Selkirk.

Explaining more about the soft launch, David Hope-Jones OBE, SSDA chief executive, said: “During this phase, we are sharing full details of the route in digital formats and inviting experienced riders to trial the route, during which time we will be collecting feedback and using that to support businesses on the route to be ‘cycle-ready’.

“Ultimately, the route is aiming to attract a wide audience and is designed to show the very best of the South of Scotland: attracting new visitors, bringing in new business and helping power the visitor economy.”

VisitScotland destination development director Gordon Smith added: “This new route will help inspire visitors to the region, while promoting sustainable travel experiences to the benefit of visitors, communities and our environment.”

And Dumfries and Galloway Councillor Ian Carruthers, said: “This is good news and I hope both serious and leisure cyclists will come and visit our region and try out The Kirkpatrick C2C, or at least part of it.”

Meanwhile, digital assets for the route have been released online at www.scotlandstartshere.com/kirkpatrickc2c, including

downloadable gpx files of the route, route maps and suggested itineraries, key landmarks and places to stay, eat, drink and visit.

A Scotland Starts Here Club has also been created on Strava.

Photos: The South of Scotland Destination Alliance/Duncan Ireland

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