Location: South Ayrshire

Location: South Ayrshire

Map: OS Landranger 77

Distance: 14 miles (23km)

Time: 1.5 hours

Terrain: gentle hills; forest roads, quiet minor roads

Perhaps unexpectedly this forest drive, used by slow-moving vehicles, makes for a good cycle with its lochs and mountain views. Access is free for cyclists using the drive in this northern section of Galloway Forest Park.

Start from scenic Stinchar Bridge, uphill and south of Straiton, at a signed car park. Follow the minor road towards Loch Bradan, from Bhradain, meaning “the salmon lake”, though brown trout occupy it now. From there simply follow the Carrick Forest Drive to the right along the wide, stony road.

Heading east to Loch Doon it’s mainly a gentle downhill ride through pine until you reach remote Loch Riecawr, where there’s a tiny adventure playground for children.

Further on, the road descends with continuing fine vistas towards the Merrick and the Rhinns of Kells. The Whitespout Lane runs alongside, becoming the Carrick Lane before it flows into Loch Doon. The forest drive ends near here but it’s worth continuing for a mile or so to Loch Doon Castle.

Transplanted in the 1930s from an island in the middle of Loch Doon, when the hydro-electric scheme raised the water level, the crumbling castle has an 11-sided curtain wall which dates from 1300.

Return by the outward route. Fit, traffic-confident cyclists wishing to complete a circuit (an extra 21 miles) should start in Straiton and at Loch Doon continue for Dalmellington and the B741.