After an awesome family getaway in Ireland, we hopped on the ferry from Belfast to Cairnryan feeling very excited for the weekend ahead. We're heading to Gatehouse of Fleet, a quaint village in the Galloway region where Canyon is hosting a 3 day gravel festival: Raiders.
It's late afternoon (and very rainy) when we arrive at the campsite on Thursday. We quickly set up our Thule tent and hunt for food in the village. We stumble across a local pub that has delicious Scottish crab on the menu: this is me happy for the next couple of hours!
73 km | 930 m elevation
We treat ourselves to a lie-in this morning before going for a pootle into town. We wonder around the village to enjoy the cute stores that sell local goods such as Galloway chutney, mustard and biscuits before checking out the riverside: Gatehouse of Fleet is definitely worth a visit!
If you ever go, stop at The Iron Brew Cafe: their lentil soup & sourdough is to die for and it's the perfect pre-ride fuel on a wet Scottish day!
We're now ready for our first ride. At first, the weather is quite drizzly but fortunately, it doesn't last for long. Soon the skies clear out and we are blessed with panoramic views of the stunning heathland.
The gravel tracks are so smooth which means we can push the pace on the climbs and pick up speed on the long sweeping descents.
After a quick stop to take in the views across the glens to the coast, we cycle back to the campsite to freshen up before enjoying a bite to eat at a local pub, feeling very excited for the following day as the forecast is promising sunshine.
85 km | 1150 m elevation
On the menu today is 85k of lush tracks through the UNESCO biosphere which all feel very different when the sun shines!
After a quick breakfast and some last minute bike checks, off we go to explore the Galloway forest.
Everything is going smoothly until I have my first puncture at 35km in (after kindly giving out my CO2 canister, bragging about the fact that I never get any punctures...) Luckily I’ve been trained so it doesn't take too long to fix: we're ready to roll again just when the midges attack!
The rest of the ride is simply mind blowing: pine trees as far as the eyes can see, carpet of purple heather and meandering rivers. We take a break by the Brun River to refresh our faces and enjoy a snack: this is what gravel is all about! I toy with the idea of going for a dip but don’t fancy another 40km in wet bib shorts so we keep rolling.
At 3pm we're back to the event village and spend the afternoon refuelling, socialising with Stohk beers and enjoying a limbo competition hosted by Canyon. What a day in Scotland!
74 km | 920 m elevation
We wake up both feeling a little sore but excited to go again for our final day on the trails. Treated with another morning of sunshine, today is all about soaking up the natural beauty and taking photos before heading back to London.
Rolling hills, stunning climbs, rivers & reservoirs... The day keeps on giving!
I packed a cheese scone with me this morning (I bought it from our favourite cafe) that goes down a treat at the halfway point. Nothing beats a snack with a view in my opinion.
After pinning multiple camping spots through the biosphere for next year, we cycled back to the village to pack up. We're not sad though, because the drive down includes a pit stop in the Lake District to break the long journey: we definitely recommend doing this if you're not under time pressure (and pack your swim suit for a dip in one of the Lakes!).