We ride the Kirkpatrick C2C, a new 250-mile route across lowland Scotland and stopping at bike-friendly hotels and cafes along the way
The weather-beaten curves of a battered stone wall guide me out of Langholm, an idyllic old textile town tucked between the hills of the Esk valley, eight miles north of the English border.
As I pedal slowly around a steep corner, a lamb and her mother, grazing on the grassy fringes, scurry off up the road. I appreciate their show of faith in my cycling abilities, but on gradients of 9%, I wouldn’t have been able to keep their pace even if they’d crawled off. I pause for a breather at the MacDiarmid Memorial, a huge, metal sculpture of an open book, embellished with images from the work of the great poet Hugh MacDiarmid, who was born in Langholm.