Parts & Accessories

The Big Cycling Adventure

22nd October 2021 | Marcus Leach
Today wherever our Adamo 75-4l goes, so does at least one of my bikes - with such a big boot space it can actually fit up to three bikes in - alongside Harrison’s, allowing us to swap four wheels for two and get off the beaten track. For my latest trip, I was joined by Bailey’s very own Nick Howard and the two of us set out for Scotland to explore the Big Cycling Adventure.

Motorhomes have, in my mind at least, always been synonymous with bikes. As a little boy, I remember watching highlights of the Tour de France and seeing lines of them on the roadside as the riders climbed towards the summits of iconic mountains. Later in life, it would be one of my own cycling challenges that would necessitate the need for a motorhome, my first ever experience of what has since become an integral part of my life.

Ever since my wife and I, plus Harrison, 6, and Dorothy, 3, visited Scotland as part of our Great British Adventure in 2020, I have wanted to return and explore on two wheels more of this wonderful country. It was much to my delight when I discovered a three-day gravel race to be held in and around Galloway Forest Park and it was the perfect excuse to load the bikes into the motorhome and head north once more.

All I needed now was a riding partner, which wasn’t a particularly difficult task given Nick’s shared passion for two-wheeled – and motorhome – adventures. Sadly, for various reasons, the event itself was postponed but seeing as our trip was planned, we decided to head up and explore the region independently. A decision we would not regret.

Our home for the duration of the trip is Anwoth Holiday Park in Gatehouse of Fleet, which proves to be the ideal base to explore not only the forest park but also the coast. However, for all the beauty of the little coastal roads and tracks, it is the vast tracts of wild and open land of the forest park that we have come for. After a short wet and blustery ride close to the sea on the day we arrive, our attention soon switches to exploring inland with a series of brilliant adventures, the best of which we planned on saving for the final day.

There is a myriad of tracks, trails and paths that weave through Galloway Forest Park, and most take you deep into the heart of a region largely untouched by the hand of modernity. Leaving our campsite behind, we head north on a small country lane that is flanked by trees whose leaves are starting to fall and there’s a sense of excitement as we head into the unknown. Guided by a pre-planned route provided by an affable local with intimate knowledge of the region, neither of us know what to expect – a strange feeling for both of us who usually plan all our own routes. We are not disappointed.

Over the course of the day, the route takes us through an ever-changing array of landscapes, each with its own charm and appeal. And yet one stands out above all the rest, a place that’s not actually on our loop, but instead at the end of slight detour taken ‘just to see what’s there’. The trail rises ahead of us and steadily climbs towards a mottled sky full of white clouds. We become silent as we pedal, our ears tuned to the rhythmic crunch of the gravel under our tyres as we climb towards the brow of the hill, both of us driven by the same childlike curiosity.

There’s an autumnal feel to the landscape, little pockets of rusty brown heather and small trees adorned with copper leaves contrast against the greens of the forest our new route leads us through. We can hear the babbling waters of a river as the track starts to climb gradually, our pace quickening due to our eagerness to see what’s ahead. Neither of us are prepared for the view that slowly reveals itself, one that forces us to take a sharp intake of breath and admire the sheer beauty of the world we find ourselves in.

Loch Dee stretches out before us, its steely waters gleaming under an ethereal light, framed by a series of whale-backed hills running along the far shore. Standing there, surrounded by such a vast and empty landscape, a sense of total solitude washes over us. It’s a moment neither of us wants to pass as we stand in utter silence, marvelling at the majesty of nature, privileged to witness such beauty. We reluctantly break the inertia and retrace our tracks back to the fork in the road where we pick up the original route.

Back on track we rumble past great stacks of tree trunks piled up on either side of a road that soon turns to a quagmire, ripped up by the two monstrous logging machines that sit off to the side. It’s tough going and on more than one occasion I almost lose control. I’m relieved to finally be back on a more stable surface and we arc around the top of Clatteringshaws Loch and head south as we twist our way through the forest towards the campsite and the promise of a welcome hot shower and a hearty meal cooked in the Adamo.

Cycling and motorhoming allows me the opportunity to expand my horizons and to see parts of the world, both near and far, that would otherwise remain hidden to me. We don’t always have to go far to discover new landscapes, but we do have to go. So, here’s to adventure, here’s to new discoveries and here’s to staying curious. Until the next time.

Top Tips

1. If you’re heading up to Scotland along the M6 and are looking for somewhere to break up the trip with an overnight stop, then Teebay Services has a simple, yet excellent campsite open 24/7. Not only is it reasonably priced, £22 for the night, but it also has excellent facilities and the added bonus of breakfast at one of the best service stations in all of the UK.

2. For those looking to extend their adventure further you can sleep at White Laggan Bothy on the edge of Loch Dee. This is one of the best bothys I have stayed in, but remember to pack a travel mattress and sleeping bag. Bothys cannot be booked in advance, you simply turn up.

3. At the heart of Galloway Forest Park, you’ll find Clatteringshaws Loch, be sure to stop at the visitor centre where there is an excellent cafe serving a wide variety of delicious homemade cakes. This may or may not have been the highlight of the trip for Nick.