Gatehouse of Fleet Drove Road
Start location: B727, east of Gatehouse of Fleet (NX 610 559)
End location: Stick Bridge west of Ringford (NX 682 579)
Geographical area: Dumfries and Galloway
Path Type: Drove Road
Path distance: 9km
Accessibility info: Suitable for pedestrians
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From the B727, east of Gatehouse of Fleet, head along the access track to Drumwall. The right of way follows the track crossing Irelandton Moor to Carse. Beyond Carse, head south along the public road for 500m to reach the turn-off on the left for Mark. The Military Road is said to have followed the Spout Glen, but our most recent survey indicates that it is extremely steep and thickly wooded. Instead, we suggest following the minor road to Stick Bridge. However, a Council waymarked path is said to run between Stick Bridge and Low Barcaple and as this appears to be on the line of the route it may reward further investigation. [Newsflash: route update coming soon]
This old right of way forms part of a droving route, but has also seen other uses in its long history. The route across Irelandton Moor was used by Covenanters in the seventeenth century and it also served as a military road from 1755 to 1780.
Unlike other military roads built in the mid-eighteenth century, this road was not built for the Hanoverians to gain advantage over the Jacobites, but to aid troop movements to Ireland. The road originally stretched 105 miles from Bridge of Sark to Portpatrick and much of the old road lies under the A75. Three sections further west are also described on this website; the Corse of Slakes, a short section just west of Newton Stewart and a longer section from Ardachie into Glenluce
Roy's Military Survey (1747-1755) shows that a route existed here before the military road was built; it is labelled as Road from Portpatrick to Minigaff and Ferrytoun of Cree &c to Dumfries. What happened was that such roads were re-constructed and re-aligned in places by the military road builders. Indeed it has also been suggested that much of the military road followed a Roman Road that ran from Glenlochar via Gatehouse of Fleet to Loch Ryan.
The Historical & Covenanters Trail Group have produced a very attractive leaflet showing this old route and describing the area's history; it is available at the Stewartry Museum and local tourist information centres. ScotWays may also have a few copies (out-of-stock as of August 2016), so you could try sending an SAE to the address top-right. The Trail Group lead an annual walk over the route; this feature from Visit Scotland has photographs from a guided walk and outlines this old route's attractions.