Gorebridge to Tweedbank (volume 3: the longest way yet)

Route out – Gorebridge to Gladhouse Reservoir to Eddleston to Lyne Station to Peebles to Cardrona to Traquair to Peel to Lindean to Bowden to Newtown St Boswells to Eildon to Newstead to Leaderfoot Viaduct to Gattonside to Melrose to Abbotsford House to Tweedbank. For route maps click here and here. Note: don’t go on the A68 at Leaderfoot as indicated by Google but use the pedestrian bridge to cross the river onto the B6360.

Route back – Scotrail train from Tweedbank to Gorebridge.

See route on Strava.

  • Weather – mainly sunny at first but cloudy later with a few spots of rain around lunchtime. Light winds.
  • Bike type – road bike
  • Distance travelled – 63.9 miles
  • Riding time – 5 hours 15 minutes
  • Maximum speed – 29.8 mph
  • Average speed – 12.2 mph
  • Height climbed – 4014 feet

In what has been the longest and coldest winter I can remember, we had yet another snow storm in the first week in April. It is supposed to be Spring though and thankfully, most of the snow had melted by the weekend so Dad and I were able to get out on our bikes again. It turned out to be one of the longest, hardest and, most importantly, best routes we have ever done.

We left the house around 9am on Sunday and took the quiet B6372 road for a couple of easy miles before turning left onto the signposted Cycle Route no.1. This is a narrow road with little traffic but as we passed Castleton Farm the road was very muddy and full of potholes so watch out if you are cycling this way any time soon. We soon left Route 1 and turned right onto a much smoother single track road and went gradually uphill for a few miles heading for Gladhouse Reservoir. The view of the snowy Moorfoot Hills in the

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distance as we approached the reservoir was impressive. The road around the reservoir is one of the nicest you will cycle on – flat, smooth and virtually no cars at all. In only a few minutes we came to a junction and turned left, heading for Peebles and this road was equally smooth and quiet, but very slightly uphill, and with great views of the hills all around. Quite suddenly though, the road surface deteriorated just after passing the sign announcing we were in the Scottish Borders. At one point there seemed to be more potholes than road so be careful. Eventually we passed the road end to Portmore Loch and sped down the hill which took us to the junction with the main A703 road.

Usually we try to avoid busy main roads but today we had no choice if we were to get to Peebles so we turned left and cycled for a few miles in the traffic. It actually wasn’t too bad as it wasn’t as busy as we had feared and the road was totally flat so we were able to go around 20 mph. Soon enough, we had arrived in the lovely village of Eddleston. Dad suggested stopping here for a snack but I was full of energy for some reason and decided to keep going and we signalled right and followed the minor road to Lyne Station (via Meldons as the sign says). As it turned out, the Meldons are a very nice patch of rolling hills and to cycle through them for 5 miles or so was brilliant. I’d say it is one of the my favourite roads for cycling. The climb up into the hills was very gradual and not hard at all, and the views behind us of the Moorfoots were great, as were the views on all sides in fact. Once up high, there’s a long period of quick, easy riding through the hills on the

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narrow road. Not really any traffic to worry about but we did have to stop a couple of times to avoid some sheep with their lambs. Nearer the end of the road you get some stunning views of the higher mountains of the Southern Uplands in the distance and just before the end, the road splits in two so we went left and free-wheeled down the hill to the junction with the A72 road at Lyne Station.

The railway station has been closed for a long time but you can still see where the train track was – it’s now a lovely walk following the River Tweed into Peebles but it’s no use for road bikes so we braved our second main road of the day instead. The A72 was relatively quiet though and quite flat as well so the 2 or 3 miles on it were fine. When we came to a signpost for Manorhead, we turned right onto the minor road, straight down a steep hill and across a bridge over the Tweed. The view from the bridge was one of the best of the day and from there we could also see our next road – heading up an impossibly steep hill! The steep road begins just after the bridge on the left and is

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marked with a “road closed” sign. Don’t worry about that (it’s just closed to cars) but you should worry about how steep it is (10% average gradient apparently) and as it is completely straight, that seems to make it even harder. Somehow I managed to cycle up it with no problems though, but Dad was toiling and had to stop halfway (to take a photo he said…). The view of the Tweed Valley behind you as you cycle up is probably worth photographing right enough. The view from the top overlooking Peebles and beyond was just as good so we stopped here for a snack of crisps and apple so that Dad could get an energy boost.

The narrow road took us down another steep hill into Peebles near the high school and we soon came to the B7062 on the south side of the Tweed. We followed this road out of town heading for Traquair about 7 miles away. This a nice road which is mainly quite easy but has a few hilly bits to keep it interesting as it more or less follows the River Tweed in and out of the trees. There’s a fair amount of traffic on this road, especially near to Peebles, but lots of cyclists too so it’s safe enough really. Just after passing Traquair House, we came to the village with the same name and found a nice bench to stop at and had our usual cycling lunch – salad, cheese, Parma Ham and oatcakes.

Next, we followed the B709 downhill to Innerleithen and turned onto Cycle Route no.1 again on the minor road that follows the south side of the Tweed. The first 2 miles of so along here was the muddiest road I’ve ever seen. It really was horrible to cycle on but after that was about 6 miles of pleasantly undulating traffic free cycling along one of the

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most scenic valleys in Scotland. Dad spotted 2 red squirrels as they ran across the road and scuttled up a Pine tree and soon after that we came to the Village of Peel where there was loads of wild garlic growing at the roadside. We crossed an old bridge over the river and turned right onto the quietish A707 for a few miles of fairly flat cycling following the river eastwards. Then just at Yair Bridge, we turned left onto the B7060 and followed route no.1 for a few miles up the hill, through the ancient Beech trees and then down the other side before turning right on to the newly restored bridge over the Tweed into Sunderland Hall Estate. The bridge is for walkers and cyclists only and now has 4 painted lanes on the road which I suppose is to keep everyone safe. However, it’s totally pointless having any lanes there – how busy do they really think it’s going to be?! Nice views from the bridge though.

After that we crossed over the busy A7 and onto another minor road which immediately climbed steeply up through the hamlet of Lindean and then up and up and up again for an age. To make it worse, there were a couple of short downhill sections which just meant you had extra climbing to do. After going more than 50 miles already, this hill was a killer and is probably one of the longest and hardest hills we’ve done. Eventually we reached the top near to a giant TV mast where we stopped for a rest before cycling down a much shorter hill, past Lindean Loch nature reserve. It looked like a nice place to visit but we kept going and soon came to the junction with the A699 where we turned left.

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Our 4th main road of the day was the nicest of them all, mostly slightly downhill and very fast at times. The road was fairly quiet and the views were stunning. Sadly, there was no real chance to stop and get any photos, which was a shame as the snow covered Cheviot Hills looked amazing in the distance. After a couple of miles we turned left onto the B9359 for a short distance and then right onto the B6398 through the village of Bowden. This road is brilliant as it goes right around the back of the lovely Eildon Hills (my favourite hills for walking) and it is downhill most of the way to Newtown St Boswells. From there, we rejoined Cycle Route no.1 once again and cycled up and down the “closed” road (no cars!) around the side of the Eildons to the outskirts of Melrose. After crossing the very busy A6091 we took a diversion into Newstead and then followed

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another “closed” road down to the the Leaderfoot viaduct. No trains run across it nowadays though, just people walking… There we crossed the Tweed once again on a pedestrian bridge and joined the B6360, turning left and heading for Gattonside a few miles away. This is a great road as it is high up above the river and you get great views of the Eildons and the river valley but it is rather busy with traffic so take care here. At Gattonside we used the old Chain Bridge to cross the water once again (you have to push your bikes here) and then we headed to our favourite ice cream shop in Melrose for a well deserved 2 scoops of raspberry (me) and vanilla and chocolate fudge brownie (Dad). We’d done 60 miles by now but still had time to kill before the train home so I suggested popping out to Abbotsford House for a quick look. Dad was feeling a bit worn out but I was fine so I made him go and we cycled through Darnick and past the train station and were soon at poet Sir Walter Scott’s home. We stayed long enough for a couple of photos and to admire the gardens. After that, we cycled back to Tweedbank via a short cycle path which goes from Abbotsford, around Gun Knowe Loch, through a housing estate and almost right back to the train station. We got there just as the train from Edinburgh arrived at the platform.

It was a brilliant day out. Probably one of the best routes we’ve done so highly recommended and strangely not all that tiring despite over 4000 feet of climbing. Even if 64 miles and all the hills are too much for you, take a trip to Eddleston and cycle through the Meldon Hills to Lyne Station and then just cycle back. That would be one of the nicest 10 mile short routes in Scotland and I’ll certainly be going back there soon.

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.

Grand Tour of Midlothian

Route Out – Gorebridge to Gore Glen to Rosewell to Polton to Loanhead to Bilston Glen to Roslin. For route map click here.

Route Back – Roslin to Roslin Glen to Mount Lothian to Gladhouse Reservoir to Temple to Gorebridge. For route map click here.

  • Weather – sunny at first but light rain and windier later on.
  • Distance travelled – 29.4 miles
  • Riding time – 2 hours 58 minutes
  • Maximum speed – 27.0 mph
  • Average speed – 9.8 mph

On Saturday morning, Dad and I decided we would go for a grand tour of Midlothian and try to cycle to lots of places we hadn’t been to on our bikes before. We left Gorebridge via Engine Road which is possibly the bumpiest road in the word. This road takes you downhill to the A7 road where we turned right, and after about a hundred yards on the main road, we turned left onto the single track road that took us down into Gore Glen. The ride back up out of the glen is really steep and slow but it soon levels out and after a mile or so we turned right onto another even narrower, bumpy road which quickly led us to National Cycle Route no.1. Here we turned right, heading in the direction of Bonnyrigg but after half a mile we turned left onto the back road to Rosewell. This road was blocked by tree branches but there was just enough room for our bikes to squeeze past. We stopped for a quick drink and Dad spotted a mole that appeared to be lying on its back sunbathing with its mouth wide open…

We left the mole to rest in peace and sped away along the quiet road for a couple of miles until we reached the A6094. Here we turned right and then after a few hundred yards, turned right again into the village of Rosewell. We didn’t stop here but did see some houses with amazingly tall chimneys as we cycled through. Leaving Rosewell behind, we joined the cycle path of Route 196 for about 5 yards before crossing straight over the A6094 again onto the road to Polton. This road was little bit busier but it was nice and wide and had a good surface. When we reached the houses of Polton we took a turning to the left (the signpost said Springfield Mill) and at the top of the housing estate, we got a nice view over to Loanhead on the other side of the glen below us. Here the road becomes narrower and goes steeply downhill for a bit. It has quite a few corners so it’s not possible to go too fast but soon we foundĀ Springfield Mill at the bottom of the glen where there looks like there might be some nice walks in the woods. After a quick stop, we began the really steep climb up the other side of the glen to Loanhead. It reminded me of the steep hill at Crichton that we’ve cycled up loads of times before, the only difference being that it seemed even steeper and seemed to to on for much longer. Eventually, we reached the top without stopping even once, and entered Loanhead. We stopped for a well deserved packet of crisps (Dad) and raw carrot (me).

In Loanhead we joined onto the Loanhead Railway Path which is part of Cycle Route no.61. This is a lovely, scenic ride through Bilston Glen on a really good surface. It also has the most wild raspberries I’ve ever seen growing along both sides for the entire 2 miles to Roslin (we stopped to fill our faces of course…). At Roslin we decided to take a slight detour and followed a stream of tourists to Rosslyn Chapel where we stopped for a quick photo before heading back through the village and onto the B7003 road through Roslin Glen. This road goes steeply downhill and at one point there’s an increadibly tight bend where you have to go really slow to avoid crashing. This would be a really nice road to cycle on if it wasn’t so busy with traffic. Soon we turned off onto the quieter road signposted for Rosslynlee which was yet another very steep climb. We did get some good views of the Pentland Hills though. At the top we stopped to say hello to some cows and had a quick oatcake to give us some energy.

After our snack we cycled back down to the exact same spot on the A6094 which we’d come to earlier in the day just before Rosewell. This time we turned in the opposite direction along the main road. Today was the first time we’d cycled on this road and, although we only went on it for a couple of miles, it wasn’t very much fun as it was quite busy with cars overtaking us. We were quite glad to turn off at Rosslynlee Trout Fishery onto the quiet road to Mount Lothian. Here I spied some brilliant raspberries so we stopped to fill up again… At Mount Lothian we almost ended up joining a cycle race but the hundreds of cyclists we saw were speeding past us in the opposite direction. Soon we had the road to ourselves again and as we turned off onto the road to Gladhouse Reservoir, we started to feel the first spots of rain coming down. We stopped to put our jackets on and decided we’d try to get home as quickly as we could before we got completely soaked. The road alongside the reservoir (as well as the 4 or 5 miles from there to Temple) is one of my favourites: it’s a lovely smooth surface, it’s very quiet, has some great views of the mountains and most importantly, there’s tasty wild raspberries growing everywhere! Needless to say, our plan to get home a fast as possible was delayed by several foraging stops…

We sped downhill over the speed bumps in Temple at exactly the 20mph speed limit and then headed back to Gorebridge along the B6372 as fast as we could, arriving home just in time, as the rain really started to pour down. It was an interesting and varied route and despite lots of steep climbs, was a very enjoyable grand tour of Midlothian.

Temple to Gladhouse Reservoir Circular Route

Route Out – Temple to Gladhouse Reservoir. For route map click here.

Route Back – Gladhouse Reservoir to Rosebery Reservoir to Temple. For route map click here.

  • Weather – mainly cloudy, dry and light winds.
  • Distance travelled – 10.01 miles
  • Riding time – 58 minutes
  • Maximum speed – 27.5 mph
  • Average speed – 10.4 mph

On thursday morning Dad and I took a special guest with us when we went for a short cycle run. The special guest was my sister Isla who is 6 years old and is already quite a good cyclist (but not as good as me obviously…). To shorten the route, we took the car to Temple and started from there. We parked next to a nice old boat believe it or not.

The first part of the route is along a narrow road with a nice smooth surface. It’s also very quiet and we saw only one vehicle all the way to Gladhouse. The road starts to climb steeply uphill about halfway along, near to Yorkston Farm but soon we reached the high point and got a good view over to the Moorfoot Hills as we sped downhill towards the reservoir. We stopped next to the water for some photos and a bag of crisps.

Cycling along the road alongside the reservoir is very pleasant and is mostly flat. The view across the reservoir towards the hills is quite nice too. Eventually, we came to a junction and turned right to head back uphill in the direction of Temple. This road was a little bit busier as it is the back road to Peebles (we saw about 4 cars in a mile!) but it’s safe enough for us and is popular with cyclists (we saw lots of them on this stretch of road). We then joined onto the B6372 which was also a bit busier but still a good cycling road and the mile or 2 we cycled on was mostly downhill so was good fun.

When we saw a signpost for Rosebery Reservoir we turned right onto a very narrow road. There’s a very steep downhill section just before the reservoir and that’s where I reached my fastest speed of the day. I was going so fast that I forgot to stop at the reservoir but Dad and Isla managed to get a quick photo before racing off after me. After the reservoir is a slow uphill section which takes you right through Yorkston Farm where we saw loads of sheep in the farmyard. I think they had been getting their fleeces cut off. Then it’s a lovely smooth ride downhill back to Temple on another quiet single track road. At a secret location somewhere on the road back, we stopped to forage for wild raspberries. Unfortunately though, there weren’t any ripe yet so we were not able to stuff our faces and headed back to the car with empty stomachs…