|Location Map ( geo)|
|To:||Castle Douglas (NX767627)|
|Via:||St John's Town of Dalry|
|Distance:||49.2 miles (79.2 km)|
|Meets:||A70, A77, B742, B7034, B730, B741, B729, A762, A702, A712, B795, A75, B736, A745|
The A713 is a long and very scenic A-road which crosses the hills between Ayr and Galloway.
Ayr - Dalmellington
The route starts in the county town of Ayr at the southern roundabout in a double roundabout junction with the A70, not far from the railway station. The A70 is in a multiplex with the A79 at this point, the two meeting at the northern of the two roundabouts, and diverging again beyond the station. The A713, meanwhile, heads south-east along Castlehill Road, crossing another roundabout for a supermarket, and then following a long straight through Ayr's eastern suburbs. Most of the roadside houses are detached bungalows from the early 20th Century, with a few other buildings here and there. At the next roundabout it becomes Dalmellington Road and a band of woodland lines the northern side of the road. Beyond this, more modern estates take over, with the houses predominantly set back behind service roads, and after crossing the small Annfield Burn, the High School faces onto a modern estate that backs onto the road.
The A77 Ayr bypass is crossed at Bankfield Roundabout, with fields beyond. The route starts climbing a little, passing Ailsa Hospital (psychiatric), Ayr Hospital (general), and then the private Carrick Glen Hospital, all set in parkland, but with a low hill hiding the town. The distance through the countryside of the South Ayrshire Council area is relatively short, and the East Ayrshire border is reached a mile or two after the hospitals. The summit of the climb out of Ayr is reached soon after at 118m, and is followed by a fairly rapid descent, including a shallow cutting just after the staggered crossroads with the B742. This section of the route is fairly sinuous with short straights linked by sweeping bends, having all been upgraded to modern standards in the past. At the bottom of the hill, a small burn is crossed before another long, undulating climb up to the village of Hollybush. Here the B7034 turns off to the right, doubling back to meet the B742 in Dalrymple.
Although not a big village, most of Hollybush seems to be hidden from the road, as indeed is the railway line which runs alongside for a time, the two routes separated by a thin band of trees. The route then rather abruptly sweeps round to the right at a T junction with a minor road and begins a much windier section which starts by dropping steeply down to cross the Boreland Burn. It then climbs back up to recross the railway, and follows it upstream through the Doon Valley. Apart from some small forestry plantations, the landscape looks like a typical agricultural scene of rolling green fields. However, the gentle slopes of the hills hide a long history of mining, and around a couple more bends, the large village of Patna is reached, a village which grew up as a coal mining community. Today the old miners cottages are long gone, and most of the houses are 20th century council houses, sitting on the far side of the river. There is, however, a long string of development along the A713, facing out over the River Doon which winds pleasantly through the meadows to the right. After coming into Patna on Ayr Road, the A713 follows Doonview Terrace and then Jellieston Terrace, despite most of the houses which originally bore these names having long since been demolished. Two do survive on the south side of Doonview Terrace, however, ironically backing on to the river!
Beyond Patna, the route flows easily up through the pleasant Doon Valley, low hills rising to either side of the wide valley floor. Look out, though, for a couple of memorial stones on the left related to the unemployment faced by local men in the 1920s. Around the next bend, this history of mining is put in to sharp focus with a large bing of waste material rising up ahead, sitting between the road and river. This bing appears to be related to the Dunaskin Ironworks rather than coal mining, although the industries were interrelated. The old ironworks are now a heritage site , the tall chimneys visible behind the surviving row of old workers cottages at Waterside. As recently as the 1950s there was a sizeable village here, with church and school, but most of it has now gone, with a few of the larger buildings surviving, although not all are in use. The A713 is partially on a modern alignment below the bing, with corrugated metal sheeting trying to prevent slides landing on the road. After sweeping past the bing and a riverside park, another row of cottages survives next to a chapel, marking the end of Waterside.
For the next couple of miles, the A713 is once more passing through the pleasant landscape of the upper Doon Valley. The hills are lower and the valley floor wider, although this creates a large boggy area known as Dalmellington Moss. After crossing a narrow bridge, the B741 is met at a crossroads, and the silvery expanse of Bogton Loch can be seen shimmering off to the south. The two routes then multiplex briefly into Dalmellington, where the B741 forks left onto Main Street, the original line of the A713 through the town. The A713 now follows Ayr Road and then Bellsbank Road and Carsphairn Road, a relief route for the town centre, but not exactly a bypass, particularly as these roads predate the creation of the A713 in 1922. Dalmellington is another old mining village which has a pleasant square, home to a variety of shops and businesses. However, on a dreich day there is still a rather grim and bleak feel to the place nestled high in the Ayrshire hills. The B7013 follows the eastern part of the original A713 route through the town, and emerges at a sharp fork next to the last house.
Dalmellington - New Galloway
Once past Dalmelington, the route begins what is possibly its finest section, the climb up to the watershed between Ayrshire and Galloway. The Muck Water, a small tributary of the Doon, is crossed at Kirn Bridge and again a mile later at Mossdale Bridge. Between the two, the route winds up the narrow wooded valley, before suddenly bursting out into fields, hemmed by forestry to the south. A right turn is a long dead end, which runs down the shores of Loch Doon, the largest loch in the Southern Uplands and worth a visit with some interesting engineering where the road crosses the dam, and then bridges some side channels. The A713, meanwhile, has to fight its way up another narrow winding valley, staying on the north bank of the burn most of the way. The steep, bare slopes rise sharply to either side, with dry stone walls tumbling down them and small blocks of trees remaining from recent felling. As is often the case with such roads, the way out is far from obvious, but at length, the route turns a corner and the valley seems to open out a little ahead.
This is not the top of the climb, however, and even as the slopes ease to either side, the road continues to wind upstream on the narrow valley floor, twisting this way and that until it finally crosses the burn. The forested dome of Campbells Hill appears ahead, and a couple of bends later the road emerges on the moorland of the summit. The lonely farm of Glenmuck can be spied off to the left, and then the road crosses the summit of over 300m, and begins the long descent to the south. Loch Muck soon appears off to the right, draining not north into the Muck Water, but south into the Muck Burn. Beyond the loch, the open expanse of Loch Doon finally comes into view, having been hidden by the hills so far. It is but a fleeting glimpse, however, as the route dips down a long, sweeping descent, crossing the county boundary to enter Dumfries and Galloway, Kirkcudbrightshire to be precise. As the road plunges into some forestry, it joins the valley of the Carsphairn Lane, a tributary of the Ken and Dee, which is followed for the rest of the route.
Emerging from the trees, the route contours around Holm Hill and then dips down to cross the Water of Deugh at the charmingly named Green Well of Scotland. This is a pool lying just above the road which has a long local association with myths and legends, but there isn't much opportunity to stop and explore. Just under a mile later, the route sweeps into Carsphairn, a small village of old, brightly painted cottages strung along the roadside. Just beyond the village, the B729 comes in from the left twice in quick succession as it reaches the end of its long journey from Dumfries. The A713 then recrosses the Water of Deugh at Liggat Bridge, and climbs a series of sweeping bends through forestry (much of which has been felled recently), before dropping down once more. Half way down the hill, a minor road turns off to the left and leads across a long narrow truss bridge over the Kendoon Loch.
The route then crosses some fields, passing a handful of scattered properties before entering the tiny foresters settlement of Dundeugh. Polmaddy Bridge carries traffic over the Polmaddy Burn, and then the road sweeps past the timber houses and on across more moorland fields. A pedestrian suspension bridge can be seen across the field to the left, crossing the Water of Deugh just above its confluence with the Water of Ken, and a little further on the enlarged Ken can be seen snaking through the tree lined fields as it widens into Carsfad Loch, the first of the chain of lochs visible from the roadside; Kendoon Loch, hidden in the hills to the north, is the highest of them. These lochs were built as part of an early Hydro Electric scheme for Southern Scotland in the 1930s, and have some unusual features. Carsfad Dam, for instance, is a highly unusual horseshoe shaped dam with some arched masonry walling and some gravity slopes, all incorporating a very long, curved spillway. It can be glimpsed through the trees from the road.
Below the dam, the road drops down onto the riverbank, crossing the tributary Polharrow Burn on Polharrow Bridge, just before the Ken starts to open out as the next reservoir, Earlstoun Loch. This too has an unusual curved dam, shaped a little like a hockey stick, with the road crossing over the channel that leads to the power station at the western end of the dam. The road then sweeps down to cross the Water of Ken at Allangibbon Bridge, meeting the northern end of the A762 at the western end. From here on, the A713 follows the eastern side of the valley, while the A762 continues down the western side. A sinuous series of bends then lead into St John's Town of Dalry, where the A702 is met at a T junction in front of the church, which sits back a little behind the hotel, almost but not quite in alignment with the pretty main street which climbs up the hill opposite. Having not met any A-roads since Ayr two come along in quick succession, with a third a short distance to the south!
The next couple of miles offer some spectacular views across the Ken Valley to the Galloway hills beyond, with the road winding gently over the foothills, rarely far from the river. It then comes round to a T junction next to the Ken Bridge Hotel, where the A712 turns off to the right, crossing the Ken Bridge to reach New Galloway. A couple of hundred metres to the south, after a short multiplex, the A712 turns right headed towards Dumfries.
New Galloway - Castle Douglas
The final stretch of the A713 has a different character again. After climbing the Doon Valley with its industrial past, and crossing the moorland summit, the route now enjoys a leafy meander along the scenic loch shores of Loch Ken. This is a long reservoir with many tourist spots and busy with watersports and fishing, through the summer months at least. For the first few miles, however, the road crosses fields, following a near mile long straight which offers tantalising glimpses of the head of the loch, and the tree clad slopes beyond. Patches of woodland follow, and at long last the loch appears just across a small field. After a couple more bends, the road is right on the lochside, passing the Loch Ken Marine. A string of waterside laybys and car parks can often be overflowing when the sun is out, as the road winds along the tree lined shore past a scattering of houses and a holiday park. The loch is particularly narrow just here, where the old railway bridge still spans the water.
The holiday park pushes the road away from the waters edge, and into the small village of Parton, which is scattered along the roadside for about a mile. The ragged edge of the loch - often a feature of reservoirs not created by natural processes - comes and goes from view, and while it is never far away, it is not so accessible either. This is a very pleasant journey, however, through a rural idyll of rolling fields with distant views of hills and, of course, Loch Ken. There are a handful of houses to be spied nestled between the fields, and then the small village of Crossmichael is reached, with its church sat prominently on the hillside above the road. The long Main Street is lined with rows of mostly white painted cottages, with newer estates hidden behind. There is a lochside marina, but otherwise access to the loch is not obvious. Beyond the village, a series of long straights carry the A713 along its final miles. The B793 crosses at a staggered crossroads at Townhead of Greenlaw, the western arm crossing the River Dee just below the Loch Ken Barrage.
As the route approaches its terminus of Castle Douglas, the landscape tames, but before it reaches the town, it has to cross the A75 bypass. This is simple enough, as the A713 passes under the A75 with a short S2 link road between the two routes. This is sited on the outside of the bypass, perhaps to provide better access to the industrial estate there. Castle Douglas is entered as Abercromby Road, running down between large detached properties, many of which are set back in large gardens. The town centre is reached after crossing the line of the old railway, and then the route curves past shops on St Andrew Street. This used to be the end of the route, but since the bypass opened, the A713 now TOTSOs left at a crossroads, with the B736 following the other two arms. King Street is the town's main shopping street, and the A713 now follows it all the way to the eastern end, where it meets the A745 at a roundabout next to the pleasant market green. This is the end of the route, with the A745] continuing along the ex-A75 route to meet the far end of the bypass.
Apart from the slight extension in Castle Douglas, the A713 still follows the same basic route as it did when first classified in 1922. However, there have been many minor improvements over the years, and a couple of more substantial realignments. After crossing the Ayr bypass, the climb up the hill past the hospitals has been widened and a couple of bends eased, although the addition of turning lanes and so on has disguised much of this. Then, just after the entrance to the private hospital, a farm track turns off to the left, and appears to be the old road line. Although partially lost by the construction of the new road, the two cross, with a loop on the west side of the road still partially in use as property accesses. At the top of the hill after the industrial estate, the A713 passes through a shallow cutting, with a driveway climbing up on the right hand side, perhaps following the original road line.
The junction with the B742 has been completely rebuilt, and was originally a substantial double bend with a short multiplex. The A713 formerly followed the hedge line to the right, then mad a sharp left hand turn and headed north east along the B742 to Boghall Cottages, where it turned sharp right and curved back to the modern alignment. The junction was rebuilt in the current form in the early 1970s. Continuing south, the next notable improvement is at Hollybush, where the old road line can first be seen to the right and then crosses to the left to form a longer loop over the old railway bridge. Both sections remain in use as property accesses. Apart from some very minor improvements, it is then several miles before the next realignment at Waterside beyond Patna. Here the road runs along a new sweeping line following the base of the slag heap, while the old road remains partially in use alongside the railway line.
As noted above, the A713 originally passed through the middle of Dalmellington. It was not until c1947 that the route was moved out of the town centre onto Carsphairn Road, swapping with the B7013. Just below the summit above Dalmellington, a double loop of old road survives to the left of the current line at Glen Muck, although the old bridge over the burn is gone. There are other hints of minor realignments as the road crosses the summit area, with odd strips of tarmac surviving in the verge in a couple of places, and some small laybys, however the next notable improvement starts at the Small Burn Bridge on the descent below Loch Muck. Again, the old bridge is gone, but then the old road appears in the field off to the right of the current line, and curves onto a long straight which obviously crosses the A713, becoming the minor road to Meadowhead, Lamford and beyond. At Lamford, the old line of the A713 forks right and soon becomes little more than a farm track winding across the hillside. By the time it rejoins the modern road at a large layby it is just a grassy ledge on the hill.
For the next few miles, the wide verges and meandering drystone walls are the only clues to the changes to the road, which has had numerous windy bends removed when it was widened. A loop of old road survives at the entrance to Brockloch, and the old bridge over the Water of Deugh survives at the Green Well of Scotland, along with a short section of old road to the south past Lagwyne. Beyond Carsphairn, the A713 originally used the loop of the B729 before crossing the old Liggat Bridge (demolished). A loop of old road can then be seen to the left, passing behind the ADS, and another forming part of a property access at the next bend. Another short loop of old road survives at the entrance to Bardennoch, followed by a layby a little further on, both on the right. There are a couple more similar loops to be found, and then at Polquanhity a series of twisty bends have been removed, with some of the old road surviving as property accesses, while much of it has been lost, with a bank of trees planted alongside the new road.
There are then laybys either side of Dalshangan, and in between a thick line of trees seems to have been planted to cover the wiggly bends of the old road. South of Dundeugh, any improvements are essentially online before Polharrow Bridge, which has been bypassed, with a long stretch of old road surviving, partly as a driveway, to the left beyond. As it comes alongside Earlstoun Loch, the old road can be seen curving through the trees first to the right, then the left, but the next notable realignment is beyond St Johns Town of Dalry. Here, a layby on the right crosses over to form a yard to the left, both showing the old road line. Continuing south, the road has clearly been widened and improved, but only after crossing Garple Bridge has it been realigned, with a layby on the right followed by one to the left again. After the realigned A712 junction at Kenbridge, there are various overgrown loops to either side of the road showing the old line, the last of which is still partially in use as a property access.
A layby just past Shirmers Farm is the most obvious evidence of a series of bends which have been straightened, the remainder largely overgrown. The lochside laybys and parking areas also probably show the old road line before it was straightened. At Carnearie, beyond Parton, the old road survives as property access first on the right then the left, weaving through the trees, but, perhaps surprisingly, this appears to be the last realignment, with the remainder of the route having been essentially just widened online.