Grand Tour of Northumberland

Route Out – Coldstream to Cornhill on Tweed to Town Yetholm to Kirknewton to Wooler to Harthope Valley. For route map click here.

Route Back – Harthope Valley to Chatton to Belford to Lowick to Ford to Crookham to Braxton to Cornhill on Tweed to Coldstream. For route map click here.

See route on Strava.

  • Weather – mainly bright, sunny and reasonably warm but very windy at times and cloudier later in the day.
  • Bike type – road bike
  • Distance travelled – 67.93 miles
  • Riding time – 5 hours 22 minutes
  • Maximum speed – 36.9 mph
  • Average speed – 12.6 mph
  • Height climbed – 4500 feet

It’s a long time since I’ve posted anything on here but don’t worry, I haven’t thrown away my bike and started playing computer games day and night… In fact, I’ve been cycling more than ever and I’ve really just not had enough time to write about any of the brilliant routes that Dad and I have been riding recently. But it’s the school holidays just now and today is very windy so there’s no hope of a bike ride, so I’ve decided to rewind to a sunny day exactly 1 year ago to tell you about a really nice route we cycled on in North-East England.


It’s less than an hour’s drive from our house to the town of Coldstream which is basically the last place in Scotland before you head across the border into England. So we started the route here and immediately crossed over the River Tweed via a magnificent old bridge and entered the Northumberland region of North-East England. After a short time on the reasonably flat and smooth A697 road, we came to a village called Cornhill on Tweed where we turned right onto a minor road that took us mainly south and slightly uphill through some lovely, peaceful countryside with views of the Cheviot Hills in the distance. After a very long straight section of road, we came to a cross roads and went straight over onto the B6352 which took us over the border and back into Scotland again. This is a very nice part of the country and to be honest, you can’t tell whether you are in Scotland or England around here – it all just looks the same.


The road more or less follows the Bowmont Water for quite a few miles until reaching unusually named Town Yetholm. After crossing a bridge over the river on the left, we soon came to the similarly named Kirk Yetholm as the road headed north-east again, following the river but on the other side this time, and skirting right round the edge of the Cheviot Hills. This is a really nice, quiet road with fantastic views of the hills and the river valley. It has some ups and downs but nothing too hard at all. Soon, we crossed the border back into England and a sign told us that we had entered the Northumberland National Park. The road keeps going around the edge of the hills in almost a semi circle for quite a long time and Dad and I agreed that this was one of the most scenic and enjoyable stretches of road we’ve cycled on. Eventually, we arrived at a junction with the A697 road again and turned right heading for Wooler. We could have taken the main road all the way from Coldstream and saved ourselves 10 miles or so but I think it’s fair to say that taking the long cut on the quiet, picturesque back roads was a good idea.


Wooler is supposed to be a nice old market town but there was some sort of gala day taking place so we couldn’t cycle through the town centre when we were there. Instead we diverted around the outskirts on the main road and then followed a sign on the right which pointed to cycle route no.68 (also known as the Pennine Cycleway) and the Harthope Valley, which is where we were heading next. This part of Cycle Route 68 is really hilly with lots of short but steep ups and downs so it’s hard going but the views are good at least. Soon enough we came to Middleton Hall where we turned right onto a very narrow, straight road which looked as though it was climbing vertically up to the sky – it looked that steep! The sign warned of a 1:5 gradient and it definitely felt like it. As the road headed up into the trees, it was hard to even keep our front wheels on the ground and we both ended up zig-zagging across the road to help us keep going. Thankfully, it wasn’t a long climb and after a short section of flat, we crossed a cattle grid and finally we got our first view of the Harthope Valley. This must be one of the most scenic valleys in England and I would definitely go back there to have a walk in the hills one day. We sped down a very steep slope into the valley and cycled along the narrow road, following


the river further and further into the hills. It was all slightly uphill and into a very strong wind so the going was very slow. It was also surprisingly busy with cars full of people heading out to enjoy the beautiful countryside and although the views were stunning, I was glad to finally reach the end of the road at a farm. From there we turned around and sped back down the hill, wind-assisted, in half the time it had taken to cycle up the valley. That really was great fun! We then had to cycle up the short but stupidly steep hill to leave the valley behind, before heading down the scary 1:5 gradient road back to Middleton Hall as safely as we could.

We then turned right onto route 68 once more for a short while, cycling through deserted rolling countryside. After a few miles we turned left and arrived at the A697 yet again where we turned right and cycled south-east for less than a mile before taking the next left turn onto the back roads again. We were now heading generally north-east again, though miles and miles of almost traffic free roads through fields on barley and wheat on mostly quite flat gradients. This was a really pleasant area to cycle in. Eventually, a couple of miles north of the village of Chatton, we turned right onto the B6349 and started heading uphill once more. This was a long gradual climb that seemed to go on forever. Thankfully the views behind and to the left were incredible, and you could see practically the whole of Northumberland. The Cheviot Hills looked amazing from here.


From the top of the hill, we sped down to the town of Belford where we stopped at a shop to buy more water to keep us going for the journey back. Then we turned left, up another short but steep climb until we could see some nice views of the Northumberland coast a few miles away on our right. We could even see Holy Island and Bamburgh Castle away in the distance. Just before reaching the extremely busy A1 road, we turned left onto a more suitable minor road which more or less stayed parallel to the A1 for a while before heading west at Fenwick. From this point on the ride became a bit of a struggle. It had clouded over by now and the wind was really strong and blowing straight into our faces, making progress very slow as we cycled along the B6353 in more or less the same direction and slightly uphill for what seemed like forever. Thankfully, we eventually arrived in the historic village of Ford and the road suddenly became very fast and steeply downhill for a bit, passing a castle along the way, before we turning left across a bridge over the River Till and then quickly right again to head for Crookham.


After Crookham, we took a very quiet and narrow back road to a place called Branxton which was signposted as being the site of the Flodden Field battle which took place between English and Scottish armies in 1513. Despite the signage, we didn’t really notice the battle site – it must just be a random field now and soon enough we were back onto the A697 once again for an easy few miles back to Scotland where we rounded off the day with a fish cake supper for tea.

It had been a long but really enjoyable day out, despite the wind making things difficult for long periods. Northumberland is a beautiful part of the country, perfect for cycling. I have been back there several times since – hopefully I will find time to tell you about those adventures before too long!


Gorebridge to Blackhope Scar (nearly…)

Route out – Gorebridge to Fushiebridge to Middleton to Gladhouse Reservoir to Moorfoot to Moorfoot Hills. For route map click here.

Route back – Moorfoot Hills to Moorfoot to Carrington to Gore Glen to Gorebridge. For route map click here.

  • Weather – mainly sunny and very warm but cloudy in the hills. Very little wind.
  • Distance travelled – 24.05 miles
  • Riding time – 2 hours 13 minutes
  • Maximum speed – 32.7 mph
  • Average speed – 10.7 mph
  • Height climbed – 1099 feet

Saturday was Gorebridge gala day. It’s a great day out if you enjoy bagpipes, junk food, expensive rides and even more expensive bouncy castles, surrounded by hundreds of noisy drunk people and screaming kids… It’s actually really not that bad but this year Dad and I decided to give it a miss because the weather was nice, so we went cycling instead. My sister Isla (who is only 7 years old) came with us too. It turned out to be her longest ever bike ride. It also turned out to be a bit of an adventure so read on…

After an early lunch of boiled eggs and soldiers, we took a familiar route out of Gorebridge along Vogrie Road and out into the Midlothian countryside. The narrow road took us through some Beech trees, high up above the Borders Railway line and soon we were at the lovely place called Fushiebridge where we stopped to look for trains as we crossed over the bridge to the other side of the train track. Sadly no trains to be seen today. We then sped down the hill until reached the junction with the main A7 road where we saw our first cars of the day. Rather than cycle on the busy road, we turned left and took the pavement along the side and cycled for a few hundred yards until we reached the Midlothian Council gritter depot. At that point we (very safely) pushed our bikes across the A7 and took another very quiet, narrow and very smooth road for about a mile or so (passing the Middleton Limeworks and climbing a massive hill) before we came to the crossroads at Middleton where we stopped for our first snack of the day (apple, orange and banana for me, Isla and dad). From Middleton, we got an amazing view back through the trees to Gorebridge which looked surprisingly nice in the sunshine with Arthur’s Seat in the background.

Next we followed the signpost for Bonnyrigg and cycled around the back of the limeworks quarries. You get some of the best views of the Pentland Hills, Edinburgh and even East Lothian along this road as it’s very high up. It’s also almost traffic-free but it is part of Cycle Route no.1 so you normally see lots of cyclists. Not today though strangely enough, despite the good weather. We turned left at the next proper junction, speeding past Outerston Farm and fields of sheep as we headed in the direction of the Mootfoot Hills. At the end of this road, we turned left again and up a steep hill and a mile or so of deserted back road later, we had arrived at Gladhouse Reservoir which looked nice in the sunshine with the Moorfoot Hills behind it. We stopped here for another snack (Yorkie buttons for Isla and oatcakes for me and dad) before heading along the smooth, mainly flat narrow road around the side of the reservoir.

After a few minutes we reached a junction and turned left onto another quiet and equally smooth road for only a few hundred yards before turning left at the sign for Moorfoot. Straightaway, we got an amazing view of the Moorfoot Hills as we cycled the half mile or so to Moorfoot Farm where the proper road ended. There, we followed a bumpy track, climbing gradually as we went, passing the ruins of Hirendean Castle and following a stream (which was actually the River South Esk) further and further into the hills. We’d never been along here before so weren’t sure what to expect and it was really quite hard to cycle on but we managed reasonably well. Even Isla didn’t complain too much… Eventually, with Bowbeat wind farm not too far ahead on top of the hill and just before reaching a small hut, the path forked in two. Dad checked the map and worked out that the left path would eventually take us to the top of the hill and to the highest point in the area called Blackhope Scar (651m high) which lies right on the border between Midlothian and the Borders. I’d always wanted to go there so we went that way. It was far too steep and bumpy to cycle on though so we left the bikes (and helmets) and decided to take a walk up to the top of the hill. It was a short and easy walk to the top and we got an amazing view of the wind farm as the sun came out from the clouds. Unfortunately, the path ran out about 100m below (and probably 20 minutes from) the summit and the grassy ground was very squelchy and boggy and we didn’t have walking boots on, so we decided (or rather Dad decided) it wasn’t worth getting wet feet for the sake of getting to the very top. So we headed back down the bumpy path to our bikes and we sped downhill along the bumpy track back to Moorfoot.

Leaving the hills and the Moorfoot road behind, we turned right and headed uphill on the quiet road until the junction with the B6372. We turned right and cycled for a mile or 2 along a very straight road, mostly downhill and with loads up humps and hollows to make it fun. Just outside Temple, we turned left and followed another quiet road for a mile or so to the village of Carrington where we turned right onto the very narrow back road to Gore Glen. This road is all downhill for about 2 miles and is great fun to cycle on. Just watch out you don’t go too fast down the very steep section just before the Glen as there’s a sharp bend at the bottom of the hill and it would be easy to end up in the trees… Then there was another steep hill to get up from the Glen and back to the junction with the A7 main road. From there we turned left and headed up one last hill into Gorebridge through the new housing estate and then Arniston Park before heading home. It wasn’t the longest cycle route in the world (though it actually was a world record for Isla!) but it was certainly one of the most interesting, most scenic and most enjoyable.

Gorebridge to Dalkeith the Long Way

Route out – Gorebridge to Dalhousie to Capielaw to Rosewell to Bonnyrigg to Eskbank to Dalkeith. For route map click here. Note that Google Maps doesn’t seem to know about all of the cycle routes through Dalkeith (no.196 and no.1). After Bonnyrigg, just follow the all the blue signs and this takes you mainly off road via Eskbank Station and Newbattle Golf Course until Dalkeith Campus.

Route back – Dalkeith to Crossgatehall to Cousland to Fordel Mains Farm to d’Arcy to Gorebridge. For route map click here.

  • Weather – sunny and cloudy, quite warm and very windy.
  • Distance travelled – 23.32 miles
  • Riding time – 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Maximum speed – 37.5 mph
  • Average speed – 9.3 mph

Today, Dad and I decided to go the long way to Dalkeith so that we could investigate one of the few sections of cycle route no.196 that we hadn’t already been on from Hardengreen Tesco to Crossgatehall. It was a lovely part of the route and I really enjoyed it.

Our route began from our house in Gorebridge as usual. We sped out of the village down the steep B704 at over 30mph (breaking the speed limit but not by more than 10% so I’m sure we won’t get a speeding ticket!). We stopped for a quick photo of Dalhousie Castle and then soon turned left onto cycle route no.1, heading for Carrington. After a mile or so we turned right onto a very quiet minor road and it was getting hot so I took off my fleece. About 10 seconds later a wasp flew in and decided to sting me on the arm – it was really sore! Believe or not, I was stung yesterday as well. How annoying… We then turned off this road onto a very bumpy single track road to Capielaw. This turned into a rather muddy track after a while, taking us around the back of Whitehill House Golf Course which looked rather nice. Eventually, the mud and potholes turned into proper road again and we sped the last mile downhill to Rosewell.

At Rosewell we joined the cycle path of route no.196 and zoomed downhill all the way through Bonnyrigg to Tesco, stopping just twice to forage for wild raspberries. From here there’s a new section of cycle path which goes through Eskbank Station. Sadly, we didn’t see any trains today. After the station, we must have missed the cycle route sign and cycled the wrong way for a few hundred yards before realising our mistake and turning round. The route no.196 signs appear to suggest cycling round Eskbank Toll roundabout but we thought it looked far too busy and dangerous so we took a short cut through The Justinlees car park instead. The next part of the route was my favourite, going through the woods alongside Newbattle Golf Course where we stopped on a bridge over the River Esk for a drink. From there it was all downhill along the cycle path and some sections of pavement until we reached a junction in the cycle route next to lots of electricity pylons, just before Whitecraig. We turned right and followed the sign for route no.196 until we reached the traffic lights at Crossgatehall.

After a short downhill section on the relatively quiet A6124, we then turned left and headed steeply uphill to the village of Cousland where we stopped for a quick oatcake and drink. In Cousland we spotted something we hadn’t seen before – some old narrow gauge railway trucks from the Cousland Lime Works. After Cousland we cycled uphill again until Fordel Mains Farm and then uphill once more to d’Arcy which was the highest point on the route and gave us a great view over to North Berwick Law, the Bass Rock, Traprain Law and the Lammermuir Hills. A few weeks ago we had come this way so that we could speed down a really steep section here. We broke our fastest ever speeds that day and today we completely smashed the records again. I reached 37.5mph and Dad even got to 41.9mph! It was really amazing going that fast. We then went along at a more reasonable speed for the last few miles home.

Gorebridge to Haddington via the 3 Saltouns

Route out – Gorebridge to Newlandrig to Crichton to Pathhead to West Saltoun to East Saltoun to Bolton to Haddington. For route map click here.

Route Back – Haddington to Samuelston to West Saltoun to Saltoun Station to Windy Mains to Whitburgh Mains to Pathhead to Ford to Edgehead to Gorebridge. For route map click here.

  • Weather – cloudy, dry, quite warm and not very windy.
  • Distance travelled – 40.35 miles
  • Riding time – 3 hours 54 minutes
  • Maximum speed – 28.4 mph
  • Average speed – 10.3 mph

The weather forecast was for heavy rain in the afternoon so I decided we would wake up at 5:30am so we could go for a very long cycle to Haddington in East Lothian and be safely home before we got wet. I actually slept through my alarm but luckily Dad woke me up and we were on the road by 6:15am.

We headed out along the B6372 and at the village of Newlandrig, just before Vogrie Country Park, we turned right on to a really smooth single track road which took us up a steep hill for a mile or so. At the end of this road we turned left and soon got a good view of the ruined Crichton Castle. The road took us very quickly down into the steep gorge and then very slowly up again to Crichton, which is really not much more than a few houses. From there we took the B6367 to Pathhead. This road is all downhill and we got there in only a minute or 2, entering the village on a nice newly resurfaced road with lovely speed bumps which we zoomed over at almost 20mph (which was fun).

The main A68 road passes through Pathhead but it was quieter than normal at this time of day so it was easy to get across the road and onto the minor road that took us downhill towards the massive lions guarding entrance to a country estate. We didn’t go in but instead headed for East Lothian, cycling passed millions of pylons along the way. The roads in East Lothian are quite flat compared to Midlothian so we sped along the route quicker than ever. We stopped at Lempockwells bus stop for an apple and a drink before heading for our first Saltoun of the day – West Saltoun. There’s a really good bus stop here too but we decided not to stop here until the way back. We did manage to take a photo of the most amazing 4-way signpost though (which lists all the mileages in fractions) and then cycled the 7/8 of a mile to East Saltoun. Here we discovered an old phone booth which had been turned into a library called the Book Nook.

Our next stop was in Bolton where we stopped for a nosey at a nice looking church. Then it was only a few miles to Haddington along a nice quiet road near the Tyne Water river. We arrived there by about 8:25am and headed to the public toilets. Unfortunately we were too early (they open at 9am!) so after a quick chocolate digestive and an oatcake we headed back into the countryside to look for a suitable tree. We took Cycle Route 196 out of the town, following a path along the river for a mile or so and then joining onto the road again. We followed Route 196 for a while, cycling along a really quiet road through Samuelston. Just before we got to West Saltoun again, we really did need to have a bathroom break so we stopped behind a massive tree to relieve ourselves. A herd of cows in the field ran up to investigate and after seeing what we were doing, decide they would join in too…!

We stopped in the amazing bus stop in West Saltoun for another oatcake before heading back along Route 196 for 3/5 of a mile to Saltoun Station. This is where there used to be a railway station and is where the cycle route turns into a cycle path again, heading to Pencaitland and Ormiston. We went the opposite way though along a narrow road through a farm. At one point we came to a locked gate and were about to lift our bikes over when the nice farmer came and opened it for us. After that we cycled passed the sawmill at Windy Mains and then onto the single track road which takes you down to the ford. According to the massive ruler thing at the side of the road which measures the depth of the water, I am now 5 feet tall! Last time we stopped here, a brown bear stole my chocolate digestive but this time the bear was nowhere to be seen so I enjoyed my biscuit…

The next section was completely traffic-free and took us onto Salters Road which heads steeply downhill. It was here that I reached my fastest speed of the day (for the first time). A couple of miles later, just passed Whitburgh Mains Farm, there’s another long downhill section where I reached my fastest speed of the day again before heading back along Ormiston Road into Pathhead. From here, we zoomed down the steep road to Ford without even breaking the 30mph speed limit. In Ford we got a great view of the Lothian Bridge viaduct which carries the A68 road in and out of Pathhead. That was my favourite view of the day. It was a steep climb out of Ford and up to Edgehead but after turning left onto the narrow farm road home, it seemed to level out a lot and it was mostly easy going for the last 3 miles to Gorebridge.

Gorebridge to Penicuik Circular Route

Route out – Gorebridge to Bonnyrigg to Rosewell to Roslin Glen to Penicuik. For route map click here. Google Maps says to go onto the A6094 for a short section before Rosewell but you don’t need to do this – just follow the path of Cycle Route 196 instead.

Route back – Penicuik to Mount Lothian Farm to Edgelaw Reservoir to Carrington to Gore Glen to Gorebridge. For route map click here.

  • Weather – mostly cloudy, cold at first but warm later, some bright spells and no wind.
  • Distance travelled – 22.18 miles
  • Riding time – 2 hours 9 minutes
  • Maximum speed – 32.8 mph
  • Average speed – 10.3 mph

On Sunday morning we got up early and by 7am we were already on our way to Penicuik, which is near the Pentland Hills about 10 miles from our house. I had been thinking of cycling there for a while and there are lots of different ways to get there. Today, we decided to go there along the Dalkeith to Penicuik Walkway which follows the route of the old railway line.

To save time, we headed straight out of Gorebridge along the main B704 road. At this time of the day on a Sunday traffic is really quiet, but I wouldn’t recommend cycling on it normally. This road heads steeply downhill and me and Dad both reached 30mph before we reached the traffic lights at the crossroads with the A7. We went straight through the lights and headed downhill again passed Dalhousie Castle where we stopped for a quick photo. Soon we reached the town of Bonnyrigg which is about 3 miles from Gorebridge and just before the town centre, we turned left onto Cycle Route no.196 which follows the Dalkeith to Penicuik Walkway. Straight away we saw evidence of the old railway with the disused Bonnyrigg station platform. At this point the cycle path is a nice smooth surface and quite flat. The only real hazard is that you have to make sure you don’t cycle through dog poo – there is a lot of of it on this section of the route. Dad also discovered that you have to watch out for the wildlife too – he accidentally ran over a massive slug and it splattered all over his knee!

The next village along the line is Rosewell and here I spotted a no.49 double decker bus heading into the village. We stopped here for our first snack of the day: I had an apple and Dad had a banana. After Rosewell, the path becomes much more bumpy and muddy in places as you head into the picturesque Roslin Glen. We didn’t see any dog poo on this section of the path but there was a lot of horse poo to avoid instead… We passed another old station platform and cycled under and over some bridges and through 2 old railway tunnels before we eventually arrived in Penicuik.

Penicuik is a bit bigger and has more shops than Gorebridge but we didn’t go into the town centre,  just stopping for a few minutes to have our crisps. We then turned onto the B6372 and cycled up the really steep hill out of the town and into the countryside. The road was very quiet apart from lots of other cyclists and we stopped for a few photos along the way, including one at Mount Lothian Farm. This road is quite high up and in the winter you get a lot of snow here but today it was far too hot for snow… After a few miles, we took a turning off the road and followed a track through the trees and down to Edgelaw Reservoir. On the way, we spotted a deer and at the reservoir we spotted lots of people fishing. We didn’t spot any fish though.

After the reservoir we left the muddy track behind and went back onto a nice smooth, straight and deserted road which took us a few miles (almost all downhill) to Carrington. It was on this section that I managed to go over 30mph two more times. Dad even went over 35mph at one point. Carrington is a very quiet little village and it has some nice benches so we stopped for our last snack of the day – chocolate digestives! From Carrington, we sped downhill all the way to Gore Glen on the really quiet single track road. Just before the glen, I reached my world record fastest speed of 32.8mph. All these downhill sections came at a price though as the road from Gore Glen back to Gorebridge is uphill all the way. It was fine though because we eaten our digestives so had lots of energy. Soon we were back home, less than 3 hours after we’d left. Amazingly our average speed was also a world record for us today at 10.3mph.

Gorebridge to Longniddry Circular Route

Route out – Gorebridge to Edgehead to Fordel Mains to Mussleburgh to Port Seaton to Longniddry. For route map click here.

Route back – Longniddry to Bogg Holdings to Pencaitland to Ormiston to Cousland to Gorebridge. For route map click here.

  • Weather – bright at first but mainly cloudy, quite warm and fairly windy later on.
  • Distance travelled – 39.81 miles
  • Riding Time – 4 hours 14 minutes
  • Maximum speed – 32.1 mph
  • Average speed – 9.3 mph

This morning I decided I would like to cycle to Mussleburgh and back but in the end, we decided to go as far as Longniddry and turned it into circular route through East Lothian.

Our usual route from the house took us slowly uphill for the first mile until we reached the B6372 road which takes you passed Vogrie Country Park. We zoomed along the nice smooth road surface for a few miles and then turned left into the village of Edgehead. At a farm at the edge of Edgehead we spotted an old Lothian Buses double decker bus parked in the farmyard. I have no idea what the bus was doing there but since I love buses, we stopped for a photo. Shortly after the village we turned off on to the bumpy road to Fordel Mains Farm. About halfway along this road we stopped to enjoy the view of Edinburgh Castle and Arthur’s Seat. After Fordel Mains we sped all the way downhill passed Carberry Tower to Mussleburgh at almost 30 mph.

In Mussleburgh, we arrived at Luca’s Ice Cream shop just at the exact moment that it opened so we popped in for a chocolate ice cream cone. This gave us an energy boost so instead of turning round and heading home, we decided to go and investigate Cycle Route no.76 and the John Muir Way. We took a combination of these routes (which sometimes follow the same path) to travel mostly off-road right along the coast all the way to Longniddry. The path is mostly quite good and wasn’t too busy with dog walkers and you get good views over to Edinburgh and Fife. On the way, we went through Prestonpans, went right around Cockenzie Power Station (which is now closed), stopped at Port Seaton harbour for a snack and passed by Longniddy Bents beach. The last mile or so into Longniddry was on a main road. It was quite busy so I wouldn’t recommend this section for inexperienced cyclists.

In Longniddry we stopped at the train station just in time to see the train to Edinburgh Waverley pulling into the station. I love trains and this was the first time I’d seen an electric train in my life, so this was my favourite part of the day.

The next section was really quite slow and uphill most of the way to Pencaitland on the B6363. At one point we passed through a silly place called Boggs Holdings and it was here that Dad spotted a funny sign that said: “Slow down for duck sake!” I wasn’t sure what was so funny about it but dad said that when I’m older I will understand what it means… Just before Pencaitland, we were overtaken by an ancient old van. Coincidentally, this was Luca’s ice cream van and it was on its way to the park in Pencaitland where there was a children’s football competition taking place. We stopped there for lunch of oatcakes and cheese and then managed to get a sneaky photo of the ice cream van (without having to buy any more ice cream).

At Pencaitland we joined Cycle Route no.196 which takes you along the old railway line. The path has recently been resurfaced with gravel and this has made it much harder to cycle on. Annoyingly, this made our average speed go down. We cycled passed Ormiston Community Garden where they grow lots of fruit and vegetables on the old railway platform. We then stayed on the path right to the end where it reaches the A6124 and then turned left and then left again to climb the steep hill into Cousland. We didn’t really stop there but carried on uphill again until we reached Fordel Mains once more. After that we avoided Edgehead and instead took another uphill diversion to the highest point on the route at d’Arcy. We didn’t do this because we love cycling uphill. It was because, from there, there is the steepest downhill section in the world. Dad managed to go over 37 mph and I broke my record speed as well at 32.1 mph. We’ve been down here a few times before but this was the first time we didn’t get caught in a torrential downpour of rain or hailstones so it was the first time we were able to go as fast as possible.

The next few miles follows a farm track which has a good surface but is full of potholes so you have to be a bit careful. This track is part of the Tyne-Esk Trail and it took us most of the way back home, rejoining the B6372 for the last mile to Gorebridge.