|Location Map ( geo)|
|To:||Solway Gate (NY006760)|
|Distance:||3.9 miles (6.3 km)|
|Meets:||A75, A711, A710, A76, A781, A701, A709, A756, A75|
|Route outline (key)|
The A780 makes up the bulk of the former A75 through Dumfries. Unlike the A756 and A781 this road is signed occasionally on the ground, though for a bulk of its journey it is still marked by green primary signs with the A75 placed in brackets. The A780's primary purpose is to connect up the dangling ends of A roads that used to terminate on the A75.
Summerhill - Solway Gate
We shall start our journey at the western end of the Dumfries Bypass - this is done to ensure we can drive the full route including the one-way section in the town centre. The modern road starts at a full roundabout with the A75 and heads south for a hundred yards before turning tightly to the left as we reach the old alignment of the A75. If we look to the right we can make out the old bridge and a small section of road lined with trees that leads back towards the A75 junction at Garroch Loaning. (There is none of the original alignment of the A75 for 5 miles to the west of Dumfries numbered as the A75 as the point where the Dumfries Bypass stops is the same point as where the Cargen-Glen improvements begin. Cargen Glen has the distinction of being the only dual carriageway in Galloway.)
Continuing on the A780 we pass under the former railway bridge of the Dumfries-Stranraer railway line (Paddy Line). The bridge is intact though hasn't carried any trains for many years since the ICI/Dupont plant switched all freight to the roads. However the track is intact to the boundary of the plant. The A780 is NSL here (unusual for a road inside the bypass) and we pass a garden centre and the Dumfries golf course (they cross the road here to continue a round - it used to be a site of many near accidents). We are still in fields here but that won't last much longer as we suddenly turn left into the suburbs of Dumfries. Prior to the construction of the bypass it was no unusual for the queue of vehicles to stretch right outside the town. We meet the A711 Albert Street at a complicated Y-junction which has an attractive fountain in the middle and then pass an acute T-junction for the A710 (entrance route for traffic of the A781) which is still a horrendous exit during the evenings. We are dropping gently towards the river now past the sandstone buildings of Maxwelltown (formerly a town in its own right but now basically a suburb of Dumfries) before reaching the junction with the A76 (yes the A76 still continues into the town centre). The A76 junction is a mess of lights which have become worse since a priority bus lane was introduced which reduced southbound traffic to a single lane and virtually invalidated the presence of a left turn lane onto the A780. However we go straight on to the Buccleuch Bridge (the traditional boundary between Kirkcudbrightshire and Dumfriesshire).
At the far end of the bridge we reach a second set of lights - which unusually for Dumfries is usually in phase with the Glasgow Street (A76) lights so traffic actually moves quite well. Joining us from the right is the A781 Whitesands but we go straight on. Buccleuch Street is lined with solid sandstone municipal buildings crowned with a church at the far end and makes a stunning entrance into the town. At the top end we meet a set of traffic lights with Castle Street (but can only turn right) and make a strange semi-circular route around Greyfirars church. This used to a be a full roundabout around Burns's statue until the bypass was constructed when they removed the ability to drive down the High Street. The area around Burns's statue is now reserved as the town's second main bus stop (the first being the Whitesands).
This next section of the A780 used to be the A701 and is called Academy Street. We pass over a set of pedestrian traffic lights before we reach a TOTSO junction at the start of the former A75 Dumfries inner loop roads (the other parts being the A756 and latterly the A781). We turn right onto Loreburn Street and bid a fair farewell to the A701 as it begins its long journey to Edinburgh. Loreburn (there was a Lore Burn but it was paved over) is a one-way road that runs parallel to the High Street. Most of the street is built up but the gaps show that at various times it has been widened to try and accommodate the traffic. Although it starts as a two-lane single carriageway it narrows quickly to a single lane with the departure of Newall Street. As far as I can remember the pain on the road still refers to this being the A75. We pass over a set of traffic lights with Great King Street (the second half of an access loop to the town centre) before making a 90-degree turn left onto English Street. After a hundred yards the southbound lanes (we only had northbound) return as we pass the entrance to Shakespeare Street and the other end of the A781 On the right are the council's headquarters, a beautiful 1930s sandstone edifice that was threatened with demolition not so very long ago.
In front of the Cairndale Hotel (Dumfries's biggest) a set of traffic lights marks the departure of the A709 to Lockerbie (and a quick route to the M74) but we continue round to the right to be immediately stopped by another set of lights. These are here for the lorries on the low-bridge alternative route. We, however, continue straight on over the railway (this one's still open) to a newish roundabout, which marks the southern end of a link road primarily constructed for the police headquarters which is on our left. All the land used to be goods yards for the railway. The road, now called Annan Road, has been widened to allow parking and two lanes of traffic. It strikes out to the east and after a few moments the A756 joins us from the right at a roundabout. At this point we have joined up all the strands of the A75; that road used to carry westbound traffic through town. From this point getting out of the town is fairly easy: the road is level, wide and has good visibility. However it has been tempered with the introduction of unnecessary speed limits and roundabouts.
As we approach the roundabout for the road to Georgetown (a huge sprawling modern housing development) we catch sight of the first of the old A75 milestones, we have made it a mile from the town centre! The roundabout is fairly quiet and does not need to be there - neither does the plethora of pedestrian crossings. Continuing east the town thins and fields starts to be seen; however the limit stays resolutely at 30mph, even though the old signs that supported the NSL are still visible. After another 1/2 mile we pass over a new roundabout for a car showroom - and nothing else, although I think there is a possibility of expansion. We can now see the A75 on the left slightly raised on a low embankment, and eventually we join it at another roundabout. It is only at this point that we leave the speed limit. It's quite a shock for the A75 drivers heading east because there have been few improvements to the old route beyond the end of the bypass, so to go from a fast open single carriageway to a narrower one is strange. The end of the A780 is marked by a cacophony of modern developments - a petrol station / a Travelodge and a Brewsters (or whatever it calls itself now).
It seems to me remarkable that a single route through the town centre of Dumfries could spawn three three-digit A roads when it was rerouted. It shows the relative surplus of 7 prefix roads as I couldn't imagine many other places where the A756, A780 and A781 could even be accommodated, yet alone contemplated.
Original Author(s): Galwegian-Elliot