|Distance:||95.8 miles (154.2 km)|
|Meets:||A74(M), A780, A709, A701, A76, A780, A712, A745, A713, A711, A762, A755, A712, A714, A747, A751, A77|
|Route outline (key)|
The A75 is the main through route for traffic from northern England to Northern Ireland, more specifically the ferry terminal from Cairnryan to Belfast and Larne. Consequently, its traffic tends to come in waves; it will be heavy when a ferry has just been unloaded, but the rest of the time it can be very quiet. Although it is an important trunk route (it is also a Euroroute, the E18), and has been subject to a number of upgrades over the years, it frustratingly remains mostly single-carriageway (although wide enough to allow overtaking in places), but there are three sections of dual-carriageway and several long overtaking lanes. Given the volume of HGVs bound to and from the ferry, it is possible for the car driver to get held up. Also, it's not as straight as it looks; you can quite often you can see the road clearly ahead of you, but it winds all over the place for no apparent reason! Nevertheless, it has been considered by some to be one of the most scenic trunk routes in the south of Scotland, and it is certainly an extremely pleasant drive. Some even say that it is haunted by ghosts...
Gretna - Dumfries
The A75 starts just north of the England/Scotland border at what is now junction 22 of the A74(M). Initially, it runs under motorway restrictions up until the junction with the B7076 (the old A74) at Gretna. It then forms a short dual-carriageway northern bypass for the village, which runs parallel to the railway line, before becoming a single-carriageway road bypassing Eastriggs and the town of Annan. Although the road is single-carriageway, it is built to a high standard, being mostly wide, flat and straight, with narrow hard shoulders.
After Annan, it passes the Kelhead Moss Plantation and Carrutherstown, before narrowing and proceeding towards Cleughbrae. A short dual-carriageway bypasses Collin, then the road returns to single-carriageway as it approaches Dumfries. There is a 24-hour service station just before the Brasswell roundabout, which is useful if you are on your way to catch a ferry in the middle of the night. This is also the point at which the A75 departs from its traditional route through the centre of Dumfries; the original route through the town centre has been renumbered A780. Up until this point, the A75 has not passed through a single built-up area.
The Dumfries bypass is another stretch of modern, high-quality single-carriageway with narrow hard shoulders. It passes around the north of the town. The first roundabout meets the A709, which heads north-east to meet the A74(M) at Lockerbie. This road can also provide a shorter and potentially faster route back to the motorway for lighter traffic heading south into England. The second roundabout on the Dumfries bypass meets the A701, which heads north to connect with the A74(M) (for Glasgow), and eventually makes it all the way to Edinburgh. After these junctions, the A75 bridges the River Nith no fewer than three times before meeting the A76 at Nithside. This road begins in the town centre and connects with the A75 at a roundabout that looks future-proofed for a flyover, although there is currently a pedestrian bridge where the road ought to pass. Take the A76 for a scenic drive up into Ayrshire, from which it is possible to reach Kilmarnock and Ayr itself. At Lincluden, the A75 passes through a cutting to rejoin its original route near Cargen Water.
Dumfries - Newton Stewart
Heading away from Dumfries, the A75 passes an industrial facility that casts an imposing figure over the roundabout providing access to it, before climbing uphill into the countryside. The road soon gains one of its frequent climbing lanes, which leads onto a lengthy section of dual-carriageway. Here it runs parallel to an unclassified road known as the 'Old Military Road'. This was never a part of the A75, but the winding road running parallel as far as the next roundabout at Lochfoot Burn once was. The road resumes its earlier character, following a fairly straight and gently undulating course through lush green countryside before rolling into Crocketford. Here we encounter the first of just two sections of 30mph speed limit, as the road makes its way through the village. Here there is a fairly conspicuous T-junction, from which the A712 departs on its way towards the Galloway Forest. If you have plenty of time, that road is a fun alternative to the A75, being much slower and twister than our route, but one which we will meet again at Newton Stewart.
When the A75 departs Crocketford, it runs alongside Auchenreoch Loch to Springholm. There is a popular restaurant and hotel located next to the road, with a view onto the loch. Shortly afterwards, the A75 encounters the second of its two sections of 30mph limit, at the village of Springholm. It passes over Urr Water and makes its way onward to Castle Douglas. Just before crossing the Urr, the B794 crosses over the road at a deeply staggered junction; it follows the Urr northwards into Galloway where it meets the A712, and southwards into Dalbeattie where it meets the A711. The latter road shadows the A75 at a distance, having started in the centre of Dumfries, and following the coast down to Kirkcudbright.
At Castle Douglas, the A75 passes to the north of the town via a single-carriageway. It passes over the A713, which can be reached via an extremely simple multi-grade junction, whereby the A-roads are connected by a single two-way slip road (cf. the A303/A350 junction in Wiltshire.). A long straight section of road then takes the A75 down to cross over the River Dee at the appropriately-named Bridge of Dee, and it runs alongside the river for a short stretch. At a T-junction, the A711 then turns off to the left towards the town of Kirkcudbright. Then the A762 crosses over, passing though a short multiplex with the A75, from which it heads north to New Galloway, and to the south returns to Kirkcudbright.
Then there's a small bypass for Twynholm. At this point the "Old Military Road" reappears on the right-hand side, heading towards Gatehouse of Fleet. The A75 itself bypasses Gatehouse of Fleet on a route built on reclaimed land from the sea, meeting the A755 which provides yet another chance to head for Kirkcudbright before crossing the Water of Fleet.
The A75 now runs right along the coast, past Cardoness Wood and through the village of Carsluith before bypassing Creetown. For some distance through Palnure, the triangular peninsula on which you can find Wigtown, Port William and the Isle of Whithorn (which is no longer and island) is clearly visible across the water. Shortly before we arrive at Newton Stewart, which is a small town yet the largest settlement for miles around, the A712 re-joins us from the right. The A75 used to run up the route now followed by the B7079 to meet the A714 in the centre of Newton Stewart, but today a modern bypass circumnavigates the town to the south. There is a roundabout with the A714, which stretches northwards through the town and continues to Girvan on Scotland's west coast, and southwards down the peninsula to Isle of Whithorn. The A75 leaves the roundabout with a short overtaking lane, before running along Merton Hall Moss and being paralleled again by the 'Old Military Road', which has apparently been reduced here to the status of a footpath.
Newton Stewart - Stranraer
As the A75 passes Benfield it is again a high-quality single-carriageway. It bridges the River Bladnoch, after which the B735 turns off for Kirkcowan. Shortly afterwards, the B733 heads to the same destination. The road becomes quite twisty as it winds its way towards Barlae, after which it splits into an unusual section of dual-carriageway. The two sides are far apart, and the eastbound section gives the impression of having been built later than the westbound one; indeed this portion of the road was upgraded to dual-carriageway in 2010.
The road bypasses Glenluce, then meets with the A747 which heads back down the peninsula towards Port William and Isle of Whithorn. Immediately afterwards, it bridges the Water of Luce. The B7084 departs for the southern half of the hammer-shaped promontory that marks the south-western tip of Scotland, and then the railway line from Glasgow passes overhead and turns to run parallel to the A75 for the rest of its course. The Dunragit bypass is another recently-opened stretch of road, in this case with long overtaking lanes. We pass through Castle Kennedy, where there is a rare filling station, and soon we arrive at the T-junction with the A751. This road departs on the right, taking all the traffic to the A77 and Cairnryan, from which the ferries depart for Northern Ireland.
Finally, the A75 heads through some flat and scrubby terrain, and then through farmland, before arriving in Stranraer. It passes Stranraer Football Club along a stretch that is appropriately named London Road, as if to confirm that the A75's main purpose is to serve traffic bound for England rather than Scottish desinations. Finally, the A75 meets the A77 at a crossroads not far from the harbour.
The A75 from Gretna to Annan, including bypasses, is an offline upgrade from the original route, which is now the B721. Most of the rest of the A75 still runs on its original route, with the exception of a few towns which are obviously bypassed. The ex-A75 through Dumfries, for example, is now the A780.