Abington To Newton Stewart
ROUTE LENGTH: 65 MILES
Reaching the junction with the M74, keep left on the A702 – do not join the motorway. The road takes you past, on your left, the site of St Constantine’s chapel.
Go in to Crawford or continue on the A702, following it all the way to Carronbridge where you bear left on to the A76. The A702 resumes on the North side of Thornhill. Turn right here. Follow the road through Penpont and Moniaive to St Johns Town of Dalry. Turn left on the A713 towards New Galloway, and then right on the A712 to Newton Stewart. Turn right immediately before you cross the river into Newton Stewart for a half mile detour to reach Monigaff church.
A detour can be made to St Constantine’s chapel, 1.3 miles to the south. Otherwise, from Abington follow the B797 through Leadhills and Wanlockhead. Turn NorthWest on the A76 for half a mile. Turn left to cross the River Nith, and then left again.
(At this point you could turn right and go to Sanquhar, 3 miles to the NorthWest, with its church and overnight accommodation).
From the bridge over the Nith follow minor roads through Burnmouth, keep to the right in Burnsands, and follow signs for Penpont.
Turn right on the A702, and after a little over a mile bear right to go through Tynron to reach Moniaive. From Moniave take the B729 until bearing left after 6 miles, and left after another 4.5.
Turn left when you reach the B7000 towards St Johns Town of Dalry. Cross the river and follow the footpath to turn left on to the A762. Turn right and then left through Glenlee. After 3.5 miles turn right on to the A712. After 10 miles turn right to come through Glenhoise and Minnigaff, passing Monigaff church. You then arrive in Newton Stewart.
Walkers can join parts of the Southern Upland Way. From Wanlockhead, it goes through Sanquhar to St John’s Town of Dalry. Continuing to the west it passes the Martyrs’ tomb at the west end of Glen Trool and passes close to standing stones at Loggangarn. The latter can more easily be accessed from New Luce. It is 5 miles from the nearest roadway.
From New Galloway to Minnigaff there is The Old Edinburgh Road. The Old Edinburgh Road would have seen a huge amount of traffic in medieval Scotland, much of it consisting of pilgrimages to Whithorn Priory. Indeed James IV was a regular pilgrim and so would have used this route. Later it became the coach road to Port Patrick, but it is now hard to follow in places.
By Public Transport
There are bus services to Abington, Crawford, Elvanfoot, Leadhills and Wanlockhead, Sanquhar, Thornhill, Penpont, Tynron, Moniave, St John’s Town of Dalry, New Galloway, Minnigaff and Newton Stewart.
To check times go to Traveline Scotland and click on Plan your Journey on left side of page.
When checking train times only you can use Scotrail
Crossing the hills into Dumfries and Galloway you traverse another frontier. The landscape is different here with hilly terrain and river systems pointing to the Solway. The cross country way is testing whatever your means of travel, but the villages with their handsome churches provide stopping places and their own rewards. This peaceful beauty belies an earlier history of proud Gallovidian independence clashing with Irish invaders, Scottish Kings, Saxon expansion from Northumbria, Norse settlers, and English invaders. Yet to this day the forests, hills and valleys retain a sense of stubborn resistance and integrity. Only the hardy warrior, the courageous missionary, or the truly penitent could maintain the necessary determination to reach their goal.
By Thornhill, Penpont, Kirkland, Moniaive, St John’s Town of Dalry, New Galloway, and Monnigaff, you arrive at Newton Stewart, gateway to the Machars of Galloway. Surprisingly few people traverse this secluded and very characterful part of Scotland which is rich in history and religious traditions, from medieval parishes to hardy religious dissenters such as the seventeenth century Covenanters.
May the Lord of Hosts
Be your guard and guide
In high hills and green pastures
By river banks and forest paths
A staff to comfort
His presence to shield
And at every stage
The blessing of strangers
The pilgrim’s welcome
And a table laid.