AS THE Borders and South of Scotland gears up for the soft launch of the new Kirkpatrick C2C, South of Scotland’s Coast to Coast cycling route, an experienced cyclist has road-tested the route and set a fastest known time.

Riding for a local charity and working in collaboration with the South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA), cycling enthusiast Josh Wood, 38, cycled the new 250-mile Kirkpatrick C2C road route from Stranraer on the south-west coast to Eyemouth on the south-east coast in 23 hours and 8 minutes.

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The SSDA asked Wood to share his feedback of road testing Scotland’s new long-distance cycling route as part of its process to help support local businesses, communities and partners get ‘cycle ready’ as they prepare for an influx of visitors.

Peeblesshire News: Josh WoodJosh Wood

The route start and end signs will be installed this summer, with full route signage completed by Spring 2024.

Wood, a cycling instructor and passionate advocate of active travel, rode the Kirkpatrick C2C for local charity, Mossburn Community Farm, which cares for animals and offers animal-assisted therapy.

He said: “The route was so beautiful and varied, with stunning views across the sea contrasting with some amazing wild open spaces and lots of lovely small towns and villages.

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“Even though I was going as fast as I could to set the fastest known time, I saw lots of wildlife along the way including hedgehogs, owls and deer. I felt as if I was completely away from it all even though I was actually never far from a coffee stop.

“I live in Dumfries and Galloway but the whole route helped me rediscover how much there is on offer in the South of Scotland especially in the Borders where I don’t ride in as much. The route is a great challenge for experienced cyclists and I’d encourage riders to come and give it a go!”

Peeblesshire News: Opening of Kirkpatrick C2C, South of Scotland’s Coast to Coast cycling route

David Hope-Jones OBE, SSDA Chief Executive, said: “During this soft launch phase, we are sharing full details of the route in digital formats and inviting experienced riders to trial the route, during which time we will be collecting feedback and using that to support businesses on the route to be ‘cycle-ready’.

“Ultimately, the route is aiming to attract a wide audience and is designed to show the very best of the South of Scotland: attracting new visitors, bringing in new business and helping power the visitor economy.”

Councillor Scott Hamilton, Scottish Borders Council’s Executive Member for Community and Business Development, said: “The Kirkpatrick C2C has the potential to bring visitors and associated economic benefits to communities right across the region, and I am delighted at the speed with which all the partners involved have been able to get it established.

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“There is a significant focus on cycling in Scotland this year as hosts of the first ever combined UCI Cycling World Championships and we are making real progress with many of our investments into cycling and active travel in the area, from the Kirkpatrick C2C to the Mountain Bike Innovation Centre and our multi-use path network to name but a few.”

Named after Kirkpatrick Macmillan, the 19th century Dumfriesshire blacksmith who invented the first pedal-driven velocipede, the Kirkpatrick C2C will take experienced riders on an unforgettable journey through breath-taking landscapes with dramatic coastlines and beaches, rolling hills, shimmering lochs, historic tweed mills, Victorian stone viaducts and romantic ruined abbeys all peppering the route.

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The Kirkpatrick C2C can be tackled in the 8-Day Explorer approach or the 4-day Challenge approach. The Explorer approach takes cyclists across the country in eight stages, with daily cycling distances varying from 21 miles (Newcastleton to Hawick) to 51 miles (Dumfries to Newcastleton).

Meanwhile, the Challenge version can be done over four days, starting with a 74-mile stretch from Stranraer to the charming artists’ town of Kirkcudbright and finishing with a 59-mile ride from Selkirk to Eyemouth.

The route is expected to prove a huge draw for the South of Scotland – initial projections suggest the new route could attract up to 175,000 new visitors to the region, with a direct spend of £13.7m per year.