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Motoring: Wonder of autumn in Galloway; Lots to see just off M74.

IN Part 11 of our popular series Great Drives,aimed at pointing you in the direction of some of the most interesting and scenic motoring routes in Britain, we take you toDumfries and Galloway, a holiday region often overlooked by visitors speeding north on the A74(M).

The routes are circular, so you can join at any point,and are brought to you in association with Thomas Cook's Signpost GuidesACredit subject to status. Licensed credit brokers. Written details on request. Models shown for illustration purposes only. New RRP prices refer to when the vehicle was new.pounds 99 secures any vehicle for up to 14 days. MILD climate warmed by the Gulf Stream, 200 miles of beautiful coastline and a forest park with herds of red deer -just a few attractions of Dumfries and Galloway. And there's nob etter time to visit the region than autumn with the reds,golds and browns of its changing foliage.

An ideal starting point for this 120-mile route is Dumfries,just 14 miles west of Lockerbie, which is on the main A74(M) motor way connectingEngland and Scotland.

Visit the Robert Burns centre or have a drink at the Globe Inn -the celebrated poet's favourite pub -before leaving Dumfries on the A710 south toNew Abbey seven miles away.

Outside town, theSolway Firth comes into view as the road meanders through pasture and woodland.

At Kirkbean,naval buffs can visit the cottage where John Paul Jones,``father of the American navy'', was born in 1747,before stopping off at Sandyhills after 18 miles for a stroll on the Colvend beach,one of the most scenic in the region.

Continue on the A710 toDalbeattie with its sparkling cottages built from local granite, then take theA711 toKirkcudbright 18 miles away.

Along the way, you will pass both Palnackie and Auchencairn, the latter situated on a hillside with fine views across the bay.

The ruins of Dundrennan Abbey, built in the 12thcentury,are worth a visit for their austere Gothic beauty. This is where Mary, Queen of Scots, spent her last night before fleeing to England.

After a visit to Kircudbright,cross its picturesque bridge and continue on the A755, turning left on the A75.

At Cardoness castle, a 15th-century ruin, head right on the B796 for one mile to Gatehouse of Fleet. Six miles further along the A75 is the turn- off for the Cairnholy Cairns (neolithicchambers) and a mile beyond are the roadside ruins of Carsluith castle,a 16th-century tower house.

Staying on the main road, you will pass Creetown before reaching Newton Stewart, best known for its mohair rugs and salmon fishing.

This is the starting point of the scenic A712 through Galloway Forest Park -a haven for birds and animals, including the golden eagle and wildcat as well as the Wild Goat Park, with its native animals and red deer herd.

At the other end is the village of New Galloway, which holds the distinction of being the smallest royal burgh in Scotland.

Taking the A 713 along the shores ofLoch Ken, you reach castle Douglas after 13 miles. From here,it's another 18 miles along the A75back to Dumfries.

For more information and suggestions for accommodation and food along the way, see Thomas Cook's Signpost Guide toScotland (pounds 14.99).

Points of interest on or close to the route -New Abbey, Colvend Beach,Dundrennan Abbey, Gatehouse of Fleet,Cairnholy Cairns,Galloway Forest Park
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 26, 2003
Words:570
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