Grand Tour of the Moorfoot Hills

Route Out – Gorebridge to Crichton to Tynehead to Fala Dam to Fala to Heriot to Pirntaton Farm. For route map click here.

Route Back – Pirntaton Farm to Over Shiels Farm to George Wood to Ladyside Farm to Middleton to Gorebridge. For route map click here.

A large part of this route is off road through Fala Moor and the Moorfoot Hills so make sure you remember to take a map with you so you don’t get lost. See images below for the maps we took with us.

  • Weather – Sunny and cloudy, light winds and quite warm.
  • Distance Travelled – 38.69 miles
  • Riding Time – 4 hours 31 minutes
  • Maximum Speed – 30.1 mph
  • Average Speed – 8.5 mph

The weather brightened up on Saturday afternoon, so after lunch Dad took me on an amazing cycle route through the Moorfoot Hills that he’d discovered a while ago. He told me it would be really scenic but also extremely steep in places so would be very hard. He was right…

The first part of the route is basically the same as the Gorebridge to Fala Dam route that we went on a few weeks ago. We varied it slightly by staying on the B6367 all the way from Crichton to Tynehead. This is a nice quiet road with good views of the Pentland and Moorfoot Hills but it also felt a lot steeper than it looked for most of the way. At Tynehead we turned left onto the B6458. I thought this road looked completely flat but it must have been slightly downhill and we fairly zoomed the few miles to the junction with the main A68 road at almost an average of 20mph. Then, after crossing over the A68 onto a single track road (where we saw some rather unusual looking goats), we sped downhill to Fala Dam (where we once again met up with the nice old dog that we saw the last time we stopped there). After Fala Dam there’s a really steep uphill section for about a mile until the village of Fala. Here, we stopped for a rest and some crisps in the play park before tackling one of the hardest sections of the route – the Fala Moor Road.

About 50 yards outside Fala, you need to cross over the busy A68 road to get onto the Fala Moor Road. It’s not really a road (Dad says it maybe used to be a long time ago) and it’s very bumpy and covered with loose stones making the relatively gentle slope really hard to cycle on – not at all suitable for road bikes. It was a bit of a slog really, but at least we saw 2 deer on the way up. Once at the top, the “road” becomes a bit less bumpy (thankfully) and levels out at around 300m high for a couple of miles through the moor and we got some nice views of the hills and some wind farms in the distance. The “road” ends suddenly at a sharp right turn and becomes a track through sheep and cow fields. Thanks to the recent rain and the cows, the track either side of the several gates along the way had turned into a muddy swamp which was impossible to cycle through. It was a bit of a relief to eventually reach Brothershiels Farm where we rejoined a proper tarmac road once more for the last mile until the junction with the main A7 road.

We only went on the main road for a few hundred yards but annoyingly, this was the bumpiest road surface of the day so if you are cycling on this part of the A7, please be careful and don’t go too fast in case you come a cropper… We soon turned off the main road and went under the under-pass to the other side of the Borders Railway line into the village of Heriot. After that we basically followed the railway line southwards on the Old Stage Road. This is a lovely, quiet single track road which has lots of up and downhill sections and lots of good views too (and lots of foraging opportunities!). After a few miles we reached the turning on the right for Pirntaton farm and the road started to go uphill. Dad had told me there would be some unbelievably good conker trees next to the farm – and he was right, I’ve never seen so may conkers before. We filled up our rucksack with as many as we could fit before carrying on up the narrow road as it became steeper and steeper the further into the hills we went. Eventually, at a height of about 350m, the road ran out, and we had a brilliant view of the Moorfoot Hills as we crossed a cattle grid onto the track which would lead us right over the hills to the other side…

This section was a lot of fun with loads of fast downhills but some incredibly steep uphills too. The views of the hills were amazing and we saw loads of wildlife – millions of grouse and pheasants, a heron, hares and buzzards. The track is a very good surface for most of the way – a bit like the kind of hard packed gravelly surface you find on some cycle paths –  and it only became too difficult to cycle on the very steepest parts where the surface was quite loose (I wouldn’t try this route on a road bike by the way…). Amazingly, we only had to push for a couple of very short sections. We had to cycle through 5 fords along the way (this is where the stream flows over the path). This was quite hard the first time but Dad told me to use a low gear and pedal as fast as possible otherwise I would get stuck – and he was right again and it wasn’t too bad at all actually. I only got my feet wet a couple of times! After a while we eventually managed to struggle our way at 2mph in gear 1 up to the highest point of the hill at around 525m. Here there is a small area of trees called George Wood where we stopped to forage for wild blueberries (very tasty). From there, the view was amazing and we could even see the Eildon Hills at Melrose far away in the distance. We also got a good view of the path we’d cycled up and could see exactly how ridiculously steep it was… The ride down the other side of the hill is basically all downhill (obviously) and is great fun. However, the first part is VERY steep so you have to be extremely careful not to go too fast or skid off the path into the heather… Soon enough, the slope becomes more gentle and we had an easy, fast decent (through the fords) the rest of the way to Ladyside Farm where we joined onto the B709.

The last part of the route follows the B7007 back to Gorebridge via Middleton and Fushiebridge. See the route Gorebridge to Dewar for more details about this section. Just before the high point in the road, we stopped at the entrance to the track to Blackhope  Farm and from there we got a good view back down the valley to the Hill that we’d cycled over the top of. It was quite a amazing to think we’d managed to do it. In total (according to Google Maps anyway) we’d cycled up nearly 3000 feet of accent over the whole afternoon which is almost as much as cycling to the top of a Ben Nevis (so Dad said anyway)! So when we got back to Gorebridge, we decided we deserved to stop at the Gorefry takeaway for a seafood pizza before heading home. It was a really amazing journey through the mountains and one I’ll certainly be going on again.

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