|Location Map ( geo)|
|To:||Barncrosh Junction (NX714589)|
|Distance:||36.3 miles (58.4 km)|
|Meets:||A780, B793, B784, A710, A745, B736, B727, A755, A762, A75|
|Route outline (key)|
The A711 is a cross-country A-road in southern Kirkcudbrightshire. After forming the direct route between Maxwelltown and Dalbeattie, bypassing the A710 which follows the coast, it then becomes the long-way-round route itself for its remaining distance.
Section 1: Maxwelltown – Dalbeattie
The road begins at a Y-Junction with the A780 (former A75) in Maxwelltown. It leaves the town on Dalbeattie Road which is lined with solid sandstone houses and proceeds southwest. After about half a mile, the houses end and fields appear on both sides but the road remains limited to 30 mph as the council decided to join the limit with that of neighbouring Cargenbridge. Beside the road runs NCN7. An attractive milestone is to be found near here. After a mile, the road crosses Cargen Water and immediately reaches a mini-roundabout with the unclassified but busy link with the Dumfries Bypass. A few hundred yards along a second roundabout marks the entrance to the Dupont Chemical plant, a major regional employer though an ugly eyesore since all the attractive pre-war buildings have been demolished. Beyond the roundabout NSL returns and we enter a section realigned in around 1994, with wide open bends and great overtaking opportunities. On the long straight beside Goldilea House you can make out the impressive viaduct which carried the Dumfries-Stranraer railway line.
The road then makes a tight left bend and proceeds up a steep hill known locally as the "The Long Wood" with the railway embankment running tightly beside it. On reaching the top the vista opens into a wide flat plain with a ring of hills in the distance and a large amount of plantation forestry clothing the area. Seven miles after leaving Dumfries we reach Beeswing which is a long linear village with a 50 mph limit (to be lowered to 30?). After the village recent improvements have left the road wide and open with long straights interspersed with brief corners that look far worse then they are. After nine miles we cross Toll Bar Bridge which was subject to a strange reconstruction that left one half of the bridge in original granite and the other in modern concrete. The road is fairly featureless here and speeding is very easy – for that reason the local police occasionally position a mobile camera between here and Kirkgunzeon. At the entrance to the village we can see the old station, whose grounds have become a caravan park, and numerous old railway bridges in various stages of decay. A realignment to the west of Kirkgunzeon isolates an old hump-backed bridge which still sits forlornly beside the road.The improved section continues which has created a number of large lay-bys which are popular with local lorries.
After 11 miles the road passes the end of the Dalbeattie Western Bypass (built to divert trucks servicing the sawmill from the town centre) before entering the town via John Street. After initially passing a couple of modern developments and a truncated railway bridge we pass through a attractive granite streets to the town centre. At the town clock we used to meet the A710 which crossed us and continued to Haugh Of Urr but since the 1970s the road has been truncated and shifted to the west and we now meet its terminus as we leave the speed limit on the western edge of the town. At this point we have another very long straight which culminates in a traffic controlled junction and bridge. Craignair bridge is narrow and has poor visibility due to its hump back. Just over the bridge we TOTSO: the main road continuing as the A745 to Castle Douglas.
Section 2: Dalbeattie – Barncrosh Junction
The second section is considerably more minor though has seen some upgrades on its eastern section (between Dalbeattie and Auchencairn). The first few miles are very straight and open and quiet, except for a narrow winding cutting which catches many people out despite the warnings. At 14 miles from Dumfries we pass Palnackie on what must be one of the smallest bypasses in the country at less than a third of a mile – more like a glorified lay by. The next main features are the twin peaks of Screel and Bengairn which are visible as we pass the road ends for Orchardton and a small link to Castle Douglas. On reaching Auchencairn at 17 miles we are forced to negotiate a narrow bridge and a few tight bends and a steep hill, which must be unchanged since the road's inception. On reaching the top and exiting the limit we again reach a series of long straights, the last on the improved section.
Immediately after this the money must have run out for the drop into Dundrennan, while through an attractive wooded gorge is narrow and very dark especially during summer. The single-lane bridge and tight bends don't help much either. After clearing Dundrennan with its attractive ruined abbey we run by the edge of the MOD ranges with the signs warning of gunfire and sudden explosions – not your usual kind of road warning. The road here is narrow and winding and goes up and down frequently and is quite a fun drive for that reason. You cannot see much to the south here as the MOD have planted a thick layer of conifers to block the view of the range. To the north the land is quite flat and boggy. However, about four miles out of Kirkcudbright, the landscape opens up and gives a clear view of the Dee Estuary (yes another Dee) which is stunning on a sunny summer day. The road begins a steep descent which culminates in a tight right angle bend at Mutehill before passing through an attractive wooded area and a few large houses before entering the town.
Kirkcudbright has a very wide main street which is very apparent as you enter, in that cars can park down both sides and there is still plenty of room. The town is the county town of this section of Galloway and has lots of historic and attractively painted buildings. It also has an active harbour and is a popular tourist spot. We reach a crossroads in the section of the town where to the left takes us into the town centre and to the right the narrow B727 takes us straight back to Dalbeattie. However, we go straight on past the exit for the A755 to Gatehouse (over an attractive concrete bridge) and continue north. After about a mile we enter a 40mph limit and then we leave the town quickly and go back into open fields. About 2 miles from Kirkcudbright we cross Telford's revolutionary Tongland Bridge from which we can see the remains of the Castle Douglas-Kirkcudbright railway bridge. We then make a sharp right turn at the junction with the A762 which is a useful link to the A75 and enter the ill-defined village of Tongland, whose main features are its Hydro-Electric power station and dam. It also has the rather less attractive road depot (an old A75 sign used to be found there but I never got a chance to get it) and the quarry. However, once we clear this the landscape is back to fields and an attractive panorama of Screel and Bengairn from the other side. The last few miles pass through a woodland with a few unexpectedly large houses found in it. Finally we round a corner to end at a T-junction with the A75 and even though we have driven nearly 40 miles we find ourselves only 22 miles from Dumfries.