Ettrick Valley Circular Route

Route – Ettrickbridge to Ashkirk to Alemoor Reservoir to Tushielaw to Ettrickbridge. For route map click here.

See route on Strava.

  • Weather – Sunny and reasonably warm with only a slight breeze.
  • Bike type – road bike
  • Distance travelled – 31.74 miles
  • Riding time – 2 hours 42 minutes
  • Maximum speed – 32.2 mph
  • Average speed – 11.8 mph
  • Height climbed – 2116 feet

A while ago, Dad discovered a really nice cycle route in the Borders and he kept telling me it was his favourite route ever. Eventually I gave in to his pestering and agreed to try it out – and he was right, we had an amazing day out in one of the most beautiful parts of Scotland.

The route starts in the village of Ettickbridge, about 5 miles from Selkirk, one of the main towns in the Scottish Borders. As the name suggests, it is located right next to the Ettrick Water and we immediately crossed a bridge over the river and headed East along the Ettrick Valley. The valley is extremely picturesque and the views got even better as the quiet road climbed gradually uphill for a mile or so. Soon enough, we turned right off the “main” road and onto a very narrow minor road (signposted for Ashkirk). As we approached the turn off, the minor road appeared impossibly steep but Dad told me that it looks a lot worse than it is – and he was right. I even sped away ahead of Dad at this point, stopping only so we could get a photo of the view behind us. The road flattens out for a short distance before climbing steeply again after another right turn, heading up and up and up, with the views of the hills all around getting better all the time. There were even some snow patches next to the roadside, that’s how high up this road was and Dad was convinced he spotted a Golden Eagle as well (I’m sure it was just a Buzzard though…). We actually cycled this way around the same time last year when we stopped here to roll our Easter eggs. This time, we stopped at the cattle grid right at the highest point on the road and had a quick snack – not boiled eggs this time but carrot sticks and celery!

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The next few miles are basically all downhill until the village of Ashkirk. The road has a nice smooth surface and is very quiet but there are quite a few sharp corners and it is quite steep so we had to be careful not to go too fast at times. Along the way, we had a nice view as far as the snow covered Cheviot Hills just over the border in England. We turned right in Ashkirk and cycled along the side of a river, through the trees and past a golf course for a couple of easy miles before the next steep hill of the day. It was quite a long but reasonably gradual climb which took us up to a very high and remote part of the Borders. After crossing another cattle grid, the views of the hills and the valley below really open up and the cycling was also brilliant: along here you get a few miles of easy, fast, slightly up and down high level riding. It’s probably one of my favourite sections of road anywhere. At the end of the high section, there’s yet another cattle grid so we stopped here for an early lunch. This time we did have some boiled eggs, along with oatcakes, cheese and Parma ham…

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After the cattle grid the road forks into two. We chose the right option and sped down the long gradual hill for ages, enjoying the amazing scenery all around us. We saw some amazing Beech trees and some lovely horses ran over to see us at one point. Soon enough we got to the bottom of the hill at the junction with the B711 road near Roberton. We turned right and then almost immediately turned right once more, staying on the B711. This road goes steeply uphill straight away but it was worth it as the views behind us to the South were incredible. The Cheviot (the highest of the Cheviot Hills) could clearly be seen from here. From the top of the hill, the next 10 miles or so are fairly easy, mainly quite flat and the road has a nice new surface in places. It takes you through some of the remotest parts of the Borders, following a small river through the hills, with really no settlements along the way apart from a couple of farms. I bet it is very bleak in a snow storm (and there were many remnants of snow drifts to be seen today) but on a warm sunny day like today it was extremely nice. Alemoor Reservoir is particularly peaceful and well worth stopping to enjoy the view. Also, as you cycle along, keep your eye open for the ancient stone signpost which tells you it is 9 miles to Hawick.

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Eventually, we reached the end of the road and reached the Ettrick Valley once more, crossing another bridge over the Ettrick Water at Tushielaw (which is little more than a couple of houses, a hotel and a farm) and turning right onto the B709. After a few hundred yards the B709 turns left and heads uphill, heading for the Yarrow Valley. We went straight on though, onto the B7009 which took us through the Ettrick Valley for the final 8 miles or so back to the car in Etrrickbridge. It’s possible that this is my favourite road for cycling on ever (even better than the high road earlier on today). It is so pleasant for cycling on: the views of the hills and valley are stunning; the road surface is good; there are no real hills, just a few undulations and it is mainly slightly downhill and very fast; and incredibly, the road is almost completely traffic free. If you think this route might be too long and hilly for you, you should at least make sure you cycle along some of the Ettrick Valley on the B7009 – it is amazing and you won’t be disappointed.

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Cycling in the Snow

Route – Gorebridge to Crichton to Tynehead to Heriot to Middleton to Carrington to Gorebridge. For route map click here.

See route on Strava.

  • Weather – Dry, reasonably mild, some sun, some cloud, some mist and no wind.
  • Bike type – road bike
  • Distance travelled – 27.54 miles
  • Riding time – 2 hours 26 minutes
  • Maximum speed – 27.1 mph
  • Average speed – 11.3 mph
  • Height climbed – 1887 feet

In my previous blog I mentioned how difficult it had been to get out on our bikes this winter due to the constantly cold, icy and snowy weather. Well, at the end of February and the start of March we had a week of very heavy snow and all the roads that we normally cycle on were blocked with snow drifts higher than me. It was brilliant fun! Apart from the fact that cycling was impossible… Finally, by last Sunday, the roads had been cleared and the snow had thawed enough to allow us to go out for a ride. And with a fair bit of snow still on the hills and at the roadside, it made for one of the most scenic cycle rides we’ve ever had.

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We started from the house as usual and headed out of Gorebridge along Vogrie Road, heading up the minor road to Fushiebridge. Just before Fushie the road forks in two so we took the left option and tackled our first steep hill of the day. I raced Dad up the hill and left him for dead (he claims he was admiring the remains of the snow drifts so that’s why he was so slow). At the top of the hill we got some fine views over to the Moorfoot hills on the right, still covered in large patches of snow. Then we sped down the other side to the Borthwick crossroads where we headed straight over and onto one of the smoothest roads around, heading for Crichton. The melting snow had caused a bit of flooding so we had to take it easy at times. Soon enough we were heading down the stupidly steep road into the gorge near Crichton Castle. Because of all the blind corners and the fact that the road was wet, Dad made us go as slow as possible so that we didn’t crash. I thought he was going stupidly slow though and found it hard not to crash into him… Then it was on to the 2nd steep hill of the day, the endless climb up through the ancient Beech trees until we finally reached the hamlet of Crichton at the top. We’d only gone about 5 miles but I was knackered already!

Next we turned right onto the B6367. This is a lovely road, very quiet for a B road, only a few short hilly bits and quite a nice surface to cycle on. It’s also got some nice views of the Midlothian countryside with the hills in the distance. After a couple of miles we reached Tynehead and turned right along another lovely smooth section of fairly flat road for a mile or so until we came to the junction with the main A7 road at Fala Hill. As we have discovered previously, the A7 really isn’t too bad to cycle on as it’s reasonably quiet and is nice and wide so it’s easy for cars to overtake. Today, we were only on the road for a mile or 2 and it was almost all downhill and we soon came to the village of Heriot where we turned right onto the B709. We stopped here for a quick snack of carrot sticks and crisps before heading onto one of the best cycling roads in the world. This section of the B709 is quite flat and follows a river along the valley as it twists and turns, with hills on either side. The views are amazing, especially so today with all the snow around. There were quite a few flooded parts along the way but the water wasn’t too deep and it was safe enough as long you went slow. At one point Dad also spotted a dead stoat or ferret (he’s not sure which – see picture below) lying in the middle of the road. It looked like it had quite recently been run down by a car judging by the blood that was trickling out of its mouth.

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After a few miles of perfect cycling, we came to the junction with the B7007 and turned right and cycled up the gradual hill as the road took us up and over the top of the Moorfoot Hills. Although the road takes you up over 400m, it’s not steep at all, yet Dad was going so slow at one point that I had to tell him to speed up! There was still a lot of snow piled at the side of the road near the top and we saw one of the most amazing giant snow drifts as well. Thankfully the road was perfectly clear though so there was no problems getting over the hill to the other side. In fact, we saw many other cyclists on this road today – it was probably the first time any of them had managed to get out on their bikes for weeks as well.

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After zooming down the other side of the hill with grand views of East and Mid-Lothian in the distance, we turned left onto the very bumpy and muddy narrow road to Middleton. There was much less snow remaining here but there is a snow gate on the road so we stopped to photograph it before having another snack (apple and Yorkie bars). At the crossroads next to the farm we turned left and skirted around the back of the Limeworks. This road was badly flooded in places and there were quite a few pot holes to avoid so we had to keep our speed down. A mile or so further along, next to Castleton Farm, the road was in a similar state so be careful if you cycle this way in the near future. After turning left for a short section along the B6372, we then turned right at the bridge and sped along the very nice, quiet and relatively flat road to Carrington. It’s the quietest village in the world – you never seem to see any people or vehicles apart from other cyclists passing through. After that it was a couple of miles downhill along the minor road to Gore Glen (watch out for pot holes here as well), an annoyingly steep hill to climb out of the glen and then another steep climb back to Gorebridge via the new Kirkhill View housing estate and Arniston Park.

As is often the case, we were home in time for lunch – carrot and corriander soup and crusty bread. Despite all the hills, it had been one of the best cycle runs I’ve ever been on and I’d highly recommend it – especially in the snow!

Gorebridge to North Berwick (vol. 3)

Route out – Gorebridge to Mayfield to Elphinstone to New Winton to Pencaitland to East Saltoun to Bolton to Haddington to Drem to Dirleton to North Berwick. For route map click here.

Route back – Scotrail train to Edinburgh then Borders Railway train to Gorebridge.

See route on Strava.

  • Weather – Dry, cloudy and cold but not much wind.
  • Bike type – road bike
  • Distance travelled – 32.24 miles
  • Riding time – 2 hours 45 minutes
  • Maximum speed – 29.1 mph
  • Average Speed – 11.7 mph
  • Height climbed – 1771 feet

There seems to have been a lot of cold weather this winter compared to normal. I don’t mind this because we’ve been able to go out sledging and building igloos but it has been virtually impossible to get out for a decent cycle run for months now due to the snow, ice and wind chill. Amazingly, even though it was still very cold today, there wasn’t much wind at all and the roads weren’t slippy for once so Dad and I decided to venture out on our bikes.

We left the house at 9:30am and took our usual route through the houses, uphill out of Gorebridge and onto the B6372 heading east. Almost immediately we turned left onto the quiet narrow road that heads steeply up to Camp Wood. As we climbed, we got a fine view over to the snow-covered Moorfoot Hills on our left and at the top of the hill, we were able to see right over to East Lothian and the snowy Lammermuir Hills to the south. The Moorfoots and Lammermuirs always look much more impressive when covered in snow I think. From Camp Wood we sped off down the hill to Mayfield with a great view of the equally impressive and snowy Pentland Hills on our left as we free-wheeled down the smooth road.

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After skirting around the edge of Mayfield, we started climbing up another steep narrow road for half a mile or so until we reached the highest point of the route at d’Arcy. After cycling only 2.5 miles so far we’d already climbed 300 feet – possibly one of the hardest starts to a route ever! From d’Arcy, we turned left and cycled along the quiet high road (there was even some snow at the side in places) and we enjoyed some amazing views over to Edinburgh and the Pentland Hills once more. We then turned left at the next junction and headed north towards Whitehill for a few hundred yards before turning right onto the rather bumpy but very scenic road to Fordel Mains farm, along which you get some of the best views in Midlothian as you look down upon Edinburgh and Fife in the distance. Soon enough we were speeding down the hill along the (very quiet) A6124, out of Mid and into East Lothian where we had to stop at the traffic lights at Crossgatehall.

When the lights changed to green we turned right onto the B6414 and climbed up the gradual hill for a couple of miles to the village of Elphinstone. This road is reasonably quiet and you get some good views on your right of the Lammermuir Hills as you cycle along. Just past Elphinstone we turned right at the sign for “Research Centre” and after half a mile or so of easy riding (passing the research centre on the way – no idea what they research there though) we turned right onto another B road briefly before a quick left turn onto another narrow and flat but smooth back road which took us quickly to the B6355. This is a nice road, not too busy and it has a good surface. It’s also very scenic, with good views of the hills in front of you. We even spotted a couple of rather grand

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turreted gatehouses to private Estates near Pencaitland so we stopped to have a nosey as usual. Not far after East Saltoun, we turned left onto the B6368 and sped down the hill to a nice little village called Bolton. We didn’t stop though and carried on along this road, following the River Tyne until we came to the town of Haddington.

As you enter the town, there is a bridge across the river with traffic lights and it was here that I had my first ever crash. As we approached down the hill towards the bridge, the lights changed to amber and even though there would have been plenty time to get across, Dad apparently disagreed and decided to stop for some reason. I must have braked too hard and my back wheel skidded on the damp road surface and I ended up on the floor. Thankfully there was little damage to me (just a small bump to the knee) or the bike but it was a bit scary at the time. It was lucky the road was quiet and there were no cars anywhere near us at the time. So after dusting myself down and having a quick bag of crisps and an apple, we were back on the road again. We left the town as quickly as possible and took the road signposted for Camptown. This is a lovely road that takes you steeply up into the lesser known Garleton Hills. At least it should be a lovely road as it’s a nice smooth surface and you get great views behind you of the lammermuirs and then a fine view of the Firth of Forth as you descent the other side of hill. Unfortunately, far too many cars seem to use this road (probably as a short cut) and many of them drive far too fast and overtake when it’s not safe to do so. So take care if you decide to cycle this way.

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In fact, taking care is the main piece of advice for the last 8 miles of the route from here to North Berwick. We’ve tried out a few routes to North Berwick now and each time, the section from the Haddington area northwards has been entirely unpleasant. Even though the roads are only B class, do not be fooled by this. They are very busy (busier than most A roads in Midlothian), have lots of bad corners and there are a lot of bad drivers out there. At one point just before Drem, a white van decided to overtake us even though there was a car coming the other way. Shortly after that we observed the worst piece of driving ever on the B1345 near Fenton Barns when an impatient driver decided he could wait no longer to get past so he decided use a layby on the left to undertake us! Dad couldn’t believe it and indicated this to the driver by holding up one of his fingers…

Thankfully, the rest of the journey was less eventful but was completely spoiled by the heavy traffic. We were glad to turn off briefly into the peaceful village of Dirleton and then onto the shared use cycle path next to main road that took us to our destination. After all that, we decided to go for a well deserved ice cream before getting the train home. As much as I like East Lothian, I think we’ll be sticking to the much quieter and more pleasant southern and western parts of the region from now on.

Gorebridge to Newcraighall

Route out – Gorebridge to Edgehead to Whitecraig to Newcraighall. For route map click here.

Route back – Newcraighall to Brunstane to Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh to Gilmerton to Eskbank to Newtongrange to Gorebridge. For route map click here.

See route on Strava.

  • Weather – dry and sunny but very windy and cold.
  • Bike type – road bike
  • Distance travelled – 25.7 miles
  • Riding time – 2 hours 10 minutes
  • Maximum speed – 25.9 mph
  • Average speed – 11.8 mph
  • Height climbed – 1400 feet

A couple of Sundays ago Dad and I managed to get out for a cycle to Edinburgh, or to be exact, Newcraighall on the Eastern side of the city. Unfortunately we were fooled by the weather though. Looking out the window at lunchtime, it had looked like a lovely sunny day, perfect for a bike ride. Sadly, as we cycled along the B6372 from Gorebridge towards Edgehead, we soon discovered that it was very windy and it was blowing straight from the north. This was 90 degrees to our direction of travel, making cycling in a straight line very tricky and the wind chill was very severe too. As well as making us cold, the wind also slowed us down a lot (especially me…) but rather than turning around and heading home, we soldiered on and we actually had quite a nice time.

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After turning off the B6372, we headed extremely slowly into the wind up the steep hill through Edgehead. Eventually we reached the top of the hill and got some brilliant views over to Edinburgh and Fife in the distance. Soon we turned right onto the narrow and bumpy road to Fordel Mains Farm and we stopped at our usual spot around halfway along to enjoy the views of Arthur’s Seat and the Pentland Hills. We didn’t stop for long though as we had to try and keep warm… After the farm we took the A6124 and sped down the steep hill as fast as we could manage without freezing to death (probably only about 20 mph today). Another cyclist zoomed past us at about twice the speed! We stayed on this road for a mile or so more of gentle free(ze)-wheeling until we reached the roundabout just outside Musselburgh. Here we turned left and cycled through the village of Whitecraig (not much to see there) and then turned right at the mini-roundabout, following the signs for Cycle Route no.1. Soon after that we turned left and followed the cycle route off road onto well surfaced cycle path that takes you right into the centre of Edinburgh with very few road sections. The path was quite quiet today (not many dog walkers around) and relatively sheltered from the wind so I enjoyed this part of the ride as we skirted round the golf course in Musselburgh and Queen Margaret University before reaching Newcraighall train station. We didn’t see any trains today annoyingly.

Soon we came to another station at Brunstane. This is the toughest section of the route as you have to cycle up and over the footbridge to get to the other side of the railway line. With our road bikes, we found this impossible so we just pushed our bikes but if you have a mountain bike, you may manage to cycle up those wooden steps. Not long after that we came to a signpost pointing to Rosslyn Chapel. We hadn’t been this way before but knew it would take us in the direction of home so decided to give that signposted route a go. It turned out to be quite a nice route, well signposted and mainly on quiet residential streets and shared use paths, taking us through Craigmillar with its amazing

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high rise flats, passing right alongside the Royal Infirmary and then taking us through Moredun and Gilmerton. It was all uphill and quite a struggle at times but eventually we came to the outskirts of the city, not far from the bypass, and we got a great view southwards to the Moorfoot Hills in the distance. We could even see Gorebridge from here. So we free-wheeled down the new shared use path at the side of the busy Lasswade Road and at the mini-roundabout we ignored the sign for Rosslyn Chapel and turned left and cycled for about half a mile on a fairly busy “C” road until another mini-roundabout where we popped off the road again onto another shared use path next to the A772. (Interestingly, there is a new cycle path being created that runs alongside the “C” road on an old railway line. It looks like it will be finished soon so we are planning to be the first people to use it!) Anyway, we stayed on the path for a while and it took us past Dobbies Garden Centre before we reached the busy A7 road. Here we had to be very careful crossing over onto the path at the other side of the road.

After that we took the B6392 road until Eskbank Toll roundabout in Dalkeith. It’s a busy road at times but it has a cycle lane at the side of the road to keep you safe. Then we cycled down the hill past Newbattle Abbey on the B703, before a rather long and slow uphill slog through Newtongrange for the last couple of miles to Gorebridge. It was a hard cycle, much hillier than you would imagine and very cold and slow because of the annoying wind. Thankfully, Dad made homemade pizza for tea (with king prawns, black olives and mushrooms) so that was excellent!

Gorebridge to North Berwick (volume 2)

Route out – Gorebridge to Pathhead to West Saltoun to Pencaitland to Boggs Holdings to Longniddry to Aberlady to Gullane to Dirleton to North Berwick. For  route map click here.

Route back – North Berwick to Edinburgh train, then Edinburgh to Gorebridge train.

See route on Strava.

  • Weather – sunny with light winds and pleasantly warm.
  • Bike type – road bike
  • Distance travelled – 30.07 miles
  • Riding time – 2 hours 1 minute
  • Maximum speed – 31.6 mph
  • Average speed – 14.9 mph
  • Height climbed – 748 feet

During the school holidays in October we only had a about one day when the weather wasn’t either wet or very windy or both. So, Dad and I made the most of that day and went for a cycle to North Berwick in East Lothian which is, conveniently,  home of our favourite ice cream shop. We had cycled there before earlier this year but this time I decided to take Dad a much more direct route which is mostly flat or slightly downhill for almost the whole way so it was a nice easy ride.

The route began with a climb straight up and out of Gorebridge to the top of Lady Brae (basically the only hard hill of the day), but soon we were speeding along the B6372 in the sunshine, passing Vogrie Country Park, heading East towards the the coast far away in the distance. This road is sometimes a bit busy with traffic but not today, and it was a pleasant ride along the smooth road surface for a few miles. Just after the village of Dewartown we turned right and zoomed down the steep hill into Ford, admiring the impressive Lothian Bridge viaduct on the left as we climbed quickly up a short steep hill into Pathhead. The viaduct carries the traffic along the busy A68 road and when we reached the village, we had to wait for a good couple of minutes for a break in the traffic before we were able to cross the road and continue our journey on a minor road which took us downhill through some woods and then past some lions guarding a grand

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entrance to a country estate. We stopped long enough for a photo before carrying on along a flat and narrow single track road which took us out of Midlothian and into East Lothian. There had been a lot of potato harvesting recently around here and annoyingly, a good part of this road was thick with mud. Even going as slow as possible we managed to get ourselves and our bikes caked in mud. Dad got dirt stuck between his brake pads and discs and it was making a terrible grinding noise so once the mud ended and when we got to the junction with the B6371, we stopped and he used some water to clean out the brakes. Thankfully the horrible noise stopped…

The next part of the ride took us through quiet East Lothian countryside along lovely wide and smooth road with almost no traffic at all. Not far past Glenkinchie distillery we arrived in the tiny hamlet of West Saltoun, home of my favourite bus stop. Very few buses actually stop there but amazingly, we timed it perfectly as just after we stopped the EVE 123 Gifford Circle bus drove past. This may not sound all that exciting to you, but it was for me because I love buses! Anyway, we sat in the shelter to have a snack of crisps and apples before carrying on.

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After a short straight section of minor road, we turned left onto the B6355. This road was a wee bit busier and was also rather muddy in places but soon we reached Pencaitland which is a lovely village. We didn’t stop there though and carried on, straight over the crossroads next to the war memorial and then turned right onto the B6363 which immediately took us through the oddly named place called Boggs Holdings. As well as having a weird name, it also has some of the most horrible, bumpy, worn out road surface you will ever cycle on (a mountain bike with full suspension would be recommended here!) and it’s also quite busy with traffic for some reason. Eventually the road surface improved and we crossed over the busy A1 road and then had a fun long downhill stretch until we reached Longniddry. Just outside the village, we got our first view of the sea so we stopped to enjoy the view and have few oatcakes.

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The last 10 miles or so of the route is mostly along a main road, the A198, which is quite a busy road. However, it is very flat so you can go at a good speed, nice and wide which allows cars to overtake safely, and also has some sections where there is a designated cycle lane. So it’s not too bad to cycle on it and it is actually very popular with road cyclists. The views of the coastline, beaches and golf courses as you cycle along are stunning too. We also saw plenty of buses along the way too including the East Coast Buses X6 and 124 and Prentice Coaches 111! Just after leaving Gullane, we spotted that there is a shared use cycle/walking path running alongside the road so we hopped onto that to get out of the traffic. Normally we find that these shared use paths are busy with dog walkers etc. but not today and we had a very enjoyable ride along this section. Soon we came to the end of the path and we had a choice of going back onto the road or diverting through the historic village of Dirleton. We chose the historic route where we cycled past the castle where my Uncle Andrew got married (so Dad said anyway as I can’t remember that far back) and also passed by yet another bus. As we left the village we rediscovered the cycle path again and this took us the last mile or so to North Berwick. This section of path was a smooth surface but also very bumpy because of all the tree roots and other stuff trying to grow through the tarmac. So be careful here. In town, we stopped for lunch at Greggs as usual before stuffing our faces with ice cream (2 scoops for Dad!) at Alandas. Then we headed to the station to get the train to Edinburgh. We changed trains at Waverly Station and got the Tweedbank train the rest of the way home. Completely by chance, when we stopped at Newcraighall station, my Mum, sister Isla and baby Catriona also got on the train. They’d been out shopping all day but I think I much prefer cycling all day!

Redford to Lunan Bay

Route out – Redford to Leysmill to Braehead of Lunan to Lunan Bay. For route map click here.

Route back – Lunan Bay to Inverkeilor to Letham Grange to St Vigeans to Woodville to Guynd to Redford. For route map click here.

See route on Strava here.

  • Weather – mainly bright and warm with sunny intervals but 1 horrible heavy shower just before we finished the route.
  • Bike type – road bike
  • Distance travelled – 29.2 miles
  • Riding time – 2 hours 2 minutes
  • Maximum speed – 31.1 mph
  • Average speed – 14.4 mph
  • Height climbed – 1257 feet

Annoyingly, I had to go back to school this week after the summer holidays. The school holidays are far too short I think. Never mind, it will soon be Christmas… Anyway, a few weeks ago we went to stay with my Granny and Granda for a few days and we took our bikes with us, hoping that there would be at least one decent day to go cycling and luckily there was…

We left Granny’s house in the village of Redford in Angus just after breakfast on a sunny Saturday morning. First we headed north along the B961 road for a mile or 2. This is a fairly quiet road with a nice surface for cycling on. It’s also downhill for a long straight section, and we flew past farms and fields with the Grampian hills far away in the distance. We also passed by a self-service potato shop/shed thing called the Spud Hut along the way. We didn’t stop to buy any tatties though… Soon we came to a crossroads and turned right on to a quiet narrow road, passing more farms and the no.36 bus, crossing over the busy A933 road before coming to the village of Leysmill. After Leysmill, it was mostly a flat ride for a mile or so to the Chapelton crossroads. Here we turned left onto the B965 for a short distance but instead of following this road into Friockheim, we went straight on up a short hill, over a bridge to the other side of the Lunan Water and then turned right onto another very narrow and deserted back road which took us right past Boysack Quarry.

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Shortly after the quarry, we came to a junction with the option of going downhill to rejoin the B965 or to head up a steep hill. We chose the difficult way (obviously) and it was worth it because, after the long slog to the top, we got great views across to our destination Lunan Bay as well as fine views back towards the hills in the west. There is a long flattish section to this road along the top which is fun to cycle on and we actually saw quite a lot of other cyclists heading in the opposite direction to us. Eventually, we came to the junction with the busy A92 road which goes from Montrose to Arbroath. I spotted some wild raspberries so we stopped here to stuff our faces for a wee while before braving the main road. Luckily we only had a few yards on the A92 before turning left into Braehead of Lunan where we got amazing views down the hill to the beach below. It was downhill from here all the way to Lunan Bay and soon we turned off into the beach parking area (the road goes through a farm yard and it is very bumpy and has lots of speed bumps too so watch out here…). We had said to Granny that we’d be there by 10am and they (Granny, Granda, Mum and Isla) could meet us if they liked to have a walk along the beach. It turned out that they had only just arrived seconds before us so that was well timed!

After a quick stop at the cafe for a drink, we chained up the bikes and headed for the beach. Lunan Bay is a brilliant beach with amazing sand dunes and when the tide is out far enough, you can go and explore some caves in the cliffs at the north end of the beach. Today the tide was out so that’s what we did. You can also see the East Coast railway line from the beach and I spotted a Virgin train and several Scotrail trains in the hour or so we spent there.

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We said goodbye to everyone and headed back onto the road, going left this time past the ruins of Red Castle, up a steepish hill and then turning right to head mostly downhill along a rather narrow but smooth road to the village of Inverkeilor. Here we came to another junction with the A92 but we managed to cross straight over safely enough to join the B965 for around 5 miles of pleasant and fairly flat cycling along the quiet country road. We passed lots of farms along the way and got a good view of the quarry we’d passed earlier on. Soon enough we arrived back at the Chapelton crossroads again but instead of heading straight on to go back the same way, we turned left onto the Arbroath road. This road seemed relatively busy compared to the other roads we’d been on but after only a short distance, we turned right onto a quieter road that led us around the side of Letham Grange golf course. We didn’t see much of the course from the road but there was a lovely old archway so we stopped to photograph it.

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Next we turned left onto yet another nice quiet road in the middle of nowhere. This road was really flat and took us around the back of the Condor army base before we eventually arrived at the outskirts of Arbroath at a place called St Vigeans. Here we turned right and although the road was fairly busy, there was a cycle lane to keep us safe. At the junction with the A933 we had to wait ages before there was a suitable break in the traffic before we could turn right. Luckily we turned left almost immediately off the busy road and onto a more suitable single track road through a tiny place Millfield (which used to a have a bike shop where Dad got a mountain bike when he was about 15) and then right onto a lovely smooth and straight road for a mile or so, up and over a large hump to another tiny place called Woodville. Dad spotted some early brambles so we stopped to forage of course.

A few yards after Woodville, we turned left at the crossroads onto a narrow and very straight road which Granda calls the “diagonal road”. If you look at the map you’ll see why he calls it this… It’s a mile or 2 of gradually uphill cycling past endless field until you come to the Guynd at the junction with the B9127. Annoyingly, it came on a very heavy shower at this point so we got rather wet despite putting our waterproof jackets on. At the Guynd, you go sharply down into a dip and then back up the other side before you are rewarded with another long, straight and flat section. This road goes past a solar energy farm which is something you don’t see very often. Where we live, you see fields full of wind turbines all the time but here, there were fields full of solar panels…

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After that, we turned right onto the B961 to head the last mile or so back to Redford. First we had to climb the steep hill that takes you past the old war memorial and then just after that, you can see the very distinctive Carmyllie Hall on the left. We stopped to photograph it before speeding back down the hill into the village to arrive at Granny’s just in time for lunch – home-made minestrone soup and Aberdeen rowies!

Gorebridge to Ormiston (the long way)

Route out – Gorebridge to Edgehead to Elphinstone to Tranent to Ormiston. For route map click here.

Route back – Ormiston to Pathhead to Crichton to Gorebridge. For route map click here.

See route on Strava.

  • Weather – mostly bright and sunny and quite warm with hardly any wind.
  • Bike type – road bike
  • Distance travelled – 25.9 miles
  • Riding time – 1 hour 47 minutes
  • Maximum speed – 32.4 mph
  • Average speed – 14.4 mph
  • Height climbed – 1440 feet

Last week when Dad was off work we went for an early morning ride to East Lothian to take in some roads we hadn’t cycled on before as well as some we’d been on millions of times. We left the house not long after 7am and it was quite chilly at this point so I had to put my jacket on despite the sunshine breaking through the clouds. From the house it was straight up a steep hill to get out of Gorebridge, but once at the top of hill we got onto the B6372 and raced quickly along the smooth road slightly downhill for 2 or 3 miles. This is usually quite a busy road but at this time in the morning we saw very few cars as we passed by the beautiful Vogrie Country Park on our way to the village of Edgehead.

Edgehead is a lovely quiet village which would be a nice place to live I think. My favourite bus (Borders Buses 51/52) passes through here several times each day but we didn’t see it today. The village is also on the side of a steep hill but on our new road bikes, we made it to the top of the hill more quickly than usual. From the top you get a nice fast section of straight road for a bit and then the road heads steeply downhill heading for Whitehill. Just before Whitehill, we turned off onto a narrow and rather bumpy road that leads to Fordel Mains Farm. Halfway along the road you get one of the best views in Midlothian as the road is high up, overlooking Edinburgh, Arthur’s Seat, The Pentland Hills, Fife and East Lothian. We stopped here for a quick drink and to enjoy the view.

After Fordel mains Farm we crossed a bridge that took us to the other side of the main A68 road and then turned left onto the A6124. This is a fairly quiet road despite being an “A” road. This section is also very fast and all downhill for half a mile or so. Soon we passed the sign welcoming us to East Lothian and arrived at the traffic lights at the Crossgatehall junction. Here we turned right onto the B6414 to head for Tranent. We’d never been on this road before but found it reasonably pleasant to cycle on, not too busy and quite a good surface. It goes gradually uphill for a short while and on the way up, we found a large patch of early brambles so we stopped to stuff our faces before carrying on. Soon enough we were heading gradually downhill again, speeding through Elphinstone village and not long after that, arriving at the town of Tranent. We cycled through the town centre and this was quite busy with traffic but soon we were cycling out into the East Lothian countryside once more on the B6371. This is a lovely wide and smooth road (slightly downhill too) which passes by the Hibernian FC training ground just before we came to the village of Ormiston.

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Ormiston was very peaceful this morning and we decided to stop at a bench have a bag of crisps and a drink before heading home. We left Ormiston along a very quiet, narrow road, passing a new housing development that is being built before entering the countryside again. When we passed a house along the way, some stupid-looking dogs decided to run up to the fence and bark their heads off at us for some reason. Maybe they could smell cheese and onion crisps on my fingers or something… After about a mile of easy, flat cycling, we came upon the junction with the A6093  road. This is a lovely smooth road but also quite busy with traffic and we had to wait for a while before turning left onto it. Straight away, we passed an East Lothian sign again which means that at some point after leaving Ormiston we had actually gone back into Midlothian. I didn’t see any Midlothian signs though… Anyway, after a few yards, we turned off the main road and onto the B6367, heading uphill for a wee bit until we actually did come to a sign telling us we were back in Midlothian. After the sign it was a nice long, straight and flattish ride through the trees and fields until we came to Pathhead. Just before the village there’s a house on the right that has a vintage Shell petrol pump in the garden so keep your eyes open for that. Dad forgot to stop for a photo of it though.

In Pathhead we had to wait for a minute before crossing over the busy A68 road but we were soon back onto the mainly traffic-free B6367, heading gradually uphill to Crichton, which is basically a couple of houses, a church and a ruined castle. It’s worth heading off the “main” road to visit the church and castle, but today we didn’t bother and cycled straight down the Colegate Road hill. This is a very steep hill which takes you through the Beech trees, down into a gorge and then back up another steep hill on a very narrow but smooth road. There’s a quite a few corners on the way down and it was on one of these that Dad couldn’t slow down enough and his back wheel skidded on the damp surface causing him to crash into the muddy grass verge (luckily for him there were no nettles at that point). Amazingly, his bike suffered no damage but he did get quite a few cuts on his legs and elbow and (so he says) an amazingly huge black bruise on his “upper hip”. I was in the lead at this point so missed everything. I did wonder why it took Dad so long to reach the top of the next steep hill though as I had to wait there for a few minutes before he appeared…

After that excitement, we had an easy mile of so of cycling through deserted Midlothian countryside until we came to a crossroads. We went straight on, up to the high point of the route where we got some amazing views over to the Moorfoot and Pentland Hills before speeding back down another very steep hill (Dad was more careful this time) and then a nice gentle cycle for the last mile or so back to Gorebridge along Vogrie Road. We made it home long before 10am and it turned out to be our fastest average speed ever!