Gorebridge to Tweedbank (volume 4: via Tweedsmuir)

Route out – Gorebridge to Eddleston to Stobo to Drumelzier to Tweedsmuir to Cappercleuch to Yarrow Feus to Yarrow to Yarrowford to Selkirk to Galashiels to Tweedbank. For route map click here.

Route back – Scotrail train from Tweedbank to Gorebridge.

See route on Strava.

  • Weather – Heavy rain (and some hail) for the first 15 miles, then mainly cloudy but dry with some glimpses of sun. Quite cold and annoyingly windy (and we were cycling straight into the wind) for the last 30 miles.
  • Bike type – road bike
  • Distance travelled – 69.3 miles
  • Riding time – 5 hours 37 minutes
  • Maximum speed – 30.2 mph
  • Average speed – 12.4 mph
  • Height climbed – 3359 feet

Dad recently bought me a brilliant book called “Cycling Climbs of Scotland: a Road Cyclists Guide” by Simon Warren which details some of the best, and hardest hills you can possibly cycle up. One of the toughest climbs described in the book is known as the Wall of Talla. It has a 20% gradient according to the road sign and looked impossibly steep when we drove up it in the car a few weeks ago. We once cycled down it and I remember it being rather scary and very hard to stop yourself going too fast or even crashing. However, I like a challenge so was determined that this time we would climb up the “wall”. And just to make things more difficult, the route I had in mind would be one of the longest we’d ever attempted, with almost 40 miles to cycle before the 20% sign even came into view…

The weather didn’t look too promising when we left the house but the forecast said it was supposed to brighten up with just one or two showers later in the day. Well, my advice to you is never trust the weather forecast as just after leaving Gorebridge along the B6372, the rain really started coming down, interspersed with occasional bursts of hail. It really was foul and horrible to cycle in. Thank goodness we have decent lights because it was almost dark. It basically rained constantly for the first 20 miles of this route – “Showers my ar5e!” said Dad – but we decided we may as well keep plodding on, turning off the B road after a few miles and onto the minor road that skirts around the edge of Gladhouse Reservoir and then past Portmore Loch. The minor road is a lovely smooth road surface, perfect for cycling on – at least until you reach the signpost welcoming you to the Scottish Borders. After that it’s much rougher and full of potholes. Amazingly though, the awful section of potholes we spotted on our last route had been patched up. They didn’t do a very good job though as the filled in holes are almost a rough and bumpy as the potholes were! Just after Portmore, the road took us down a steep, twisting slope until the A703 road where we stopped for a drink before venturing out into the traffic…

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It’s never particularly pleasant when you are cycling on a busy road and being overtaken all the time, but it’s even worse when it’s wet. We survived the 2 or 3 miles on the main road though and were soon in Eddleston where we turned right onto the minor road signposted for Lyne Station via Meldons. We were absolutely drenched by then, especially our gloves, and our hands were quite cold. We decided it would be a good idea to take off our gloves before carrying on. Bad idea. As we cycled up the gradual slope into the Meldon Hills the rain got even heavier and our hands just got even colder. So the wet gloves went back on soon enough! The Meldons road is one of the nicest you’ll ever cycle on – at least it is when the weather is decent. Today was just horrible as the road was extremely wet, flooded and muddy at times. Even on the downhills we had to go slow to avoid being constantly splashed by the water. At this stage we were so fed up that we were seriously considering aborting the planned route and just heading home. Thankfully, just as we reached the other side of the Meldons and we neared the junction with the A72, the rain suddenly stopped and skies brightened remarkably. In fact, it was almost sunny and just like that, despite the wet shoes and gloves, we both brightened up too…

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After only a few metres on the A72 we turned left onto the B712. This section of the route is highly recommended, taking you into the Tweed Valley past Stobo Castle and Dawyck Botanic Garden, and is one of my favourite roads for cycling. It is mostly flat and has great views of the hills and the River Tweed (which it basically follows for about 8 miles). The road is relatively quiet and is very straight for long stretches too so it’s easy to go at a good speed. As we cycled along we were also amazed at the miles and miles of daffodils lining the road. Someone must have taken years to plant them all. Or maybe they are wild daffodils – who knows? Very beautiful anyway.

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Eventually, we came to a junction with another main road, the A701. There is no way to avoid this one so we turned left and headed south. As it turned out the A701 is not very busy with traffic at all and it is also fairly flat with a reasonable surface for cycling on (well apart from the odd pothole to avoid). Like the B712, the scenery is stunning, with lovely hills all around and grand views of the River Tweed all along the 7 miles. Also, look out for several impressive-looking metal bridges crossing the river to farms and other private properties along the way. In this direction, we were heading in the opposite direction to the river flows so it should have felt as if we were cycling uphill. It felt more like we were going downhill though and in no time at all we’d arrived at the tiny hamlet of Tweedsmuir where we turned left onto the minor road and stopped at a nice old bridge and sat on some rocks at the river side and had our first proper rest of the day (after 35 miles unbelievably!). We were feeling rather peckish so ate some lunch of Parma Ham, oatcakes, grapes and celery sticks to give us an energy boost before tackling the big challenge ahead.

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After lunch, the narrow road took us eastwards, gradually uphill and straight into an annoyingly strong and cold wind. Soon we came to the Talla Reservoir which looks rather impressive with the very steep sloped hills around it. We couldn’t see the “wall” just yet but after a flat mile or so along the water side, we rounded the end of the reservoir and then, if you looked closely, you could just make out the line of the road heading up the next hill at a stupidly steep angle. Well, there was no going back so we tried to ignore the 20% gradient sign and started up the hill in our lowest gear. Immediately we realised that this was by far the steepest and hardest hill we’d ever tried to cycle up. It was real struggle to even keep moving. Dad decided to zig-zag up the road to help cut down the gradient and this certainly helped. Thankfully, despite this being one of the quietest roads in Scotland, a few cars came along when we were going up so we had no choice but to stop and let them past. These rest breaks certainly helped (and allowed us to enjoy the view behind us back down to the reservoir below too) and we eventually managed to reach the top. We probably could have walked up the hill quicker but we had climbed 150m in a mile according to the book so we were just pleased we’d managed it without any pushing at all.

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From the high point in the road you a get a great view through the hills towards the next reservoir, Megget Reservoir. We stopped at the top for a rather long rest before soldiering on into the cold wind. At least most of the next few miles was downhill with only some short ups and it really is a lovely road for cycling on – although I didn’t think so at the time as my legs were well and truly broken after climbing the wall… The area around Megget Reservoir is totally stunning and well worth stopping for a picnic on a good day. Today, we just sped past and free-wheeled down the long gradual hill for a few miles until we came to the junction with the A708 next to St Mary’s Loch.

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I was feeling worn out and wasn’t looking forward to the final 25 miles or so. It would be mainly on the main road and in to the freezing wind but after re-fueling on a banana we turned left and headed for Selkirk along the A708. Thankfully, apart from a number of motor bikes, this is a fairly quiet road and as it follows the Yarrow Water, it is reasonably flat. After Talla, I was really glad of this fact but I still didn’t really enjoy this section much, despite the nice views along the valley because I was so tired. I was glad when we eventually made it to the town of Selkirk as I knew that meant there wasn’t far to go… In Selkirk we avoided climbing the steep hill into the town centre but instead took a back street that follows the river past a recycling centre and eventually takes you to the main A7 road on the outskirts of town. Here we were able to avoid the traffic by going on the shared use cycle path. After a mile or so we turned left at the cycle route signs, over a bridge across the Ettrick Water and then into the Sunderland Hall Estate. A short, flat

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straight section of road then took us to another bridge over the River Tweed and then onto Cycle Route no.1. We followed the cycle route for the last few miles and it was really one of the nicest parts of the day, with a mixture of well-surfaced paths and quiet roads following the river. There was wild garlic everywhere and we got a great view of Abbotsford House across the water. Soon enough we arrived at Tweedbank Station, perfectly timed, just as the train from Edinburgh arrived. We’d had a rather challenging day and one I’ll never forget and if you feel like a bit of an adventure, I’d highly recommend to try and cycle up the Wall of Talla. You won’t regret it – even if your legs will at the time!

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 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!

Bathgate to Glasgow (via the Falkirk Wheel)

Route out – Bathgate to Linlithgow to Falkirk Wheel to Kirkintilloch to Bishopbriggs to Glasgow. For route map click here.

Route back – Glasgow to Uddingston to Coatbridge to Airdie to Plains to Caldercruix to Blackridge to Bathgate. For route map click here.

See route on Strava.

  • Weather – dull at first then much brighter but with 1 horrible heavy shower around midday. Mainly sunny and warm later in the afternoon.
  • Bike type – road bike
  • Distance travelled – 80.62 miles
  • Riding time – 6 hours 42 minutes
  • Maximum speed – 32.6 mph
  • Average speed – 11.9 mph
  • Height climbed – 1958 feet

It seems like Dad and I have cycled everywhere in the south of Scotland. But last Saturday I woke up and suddenly realised that we’ve never been to the largest city in Scotland – Glagow. So I decided at 6:30am that morning that that was where we’d be cycling to that day. Unfortunately, to get to Glasgow and back from Gorebridge in a day would be basically impossible so we loaded up the car and travelled to the West Lothian town of Bathgate and by about 9:15am we were on our bikes…

We left the car on Kirkton Avenue in Bathgate and started by cycling straight up a really steep and long hill (14% gradient according to the sign) heading north for Linlithgow. It didn’t actually seem that hard a climb and soon we were out into the countryside going up and down (mostly up) for a while until we reached the top of the narrow road near Cairnpapple Hill where, despite the grey and overcast sky, we got a fine view across to the 3 bridges crossing the Firth of Forth away in the distance. From there, it was mainly downhill all the way for the few miles to Linlithgow on a relatively busy “C” class road which passes by Beecraigs Country Park on the way. The is road has a lovely smooth surface but has lots of very sharp bends on the steepest downhill sections so be careful…

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Not far into the town of Linlithgow, we turned left off the main road onto the Union Canal, cycle route 754. We’ve cycled on the canal before from Edinburgh to Linlithgow but had never gone further until today. The surface of the path was much better than I remembered, fairly smooth and with a hard-packed covering of fine stone chips, so it was perfectly OK for the road bikes. The gradient is totally flat so you have to keep pedaling pretty much constantly so it is a bit of a slog at times. You have to pass beneath many bridges and the turns here are very tight and bumpy so you have to slow to a crawl at times. You’ll also find that the path is used by millions of dog walkers (we even passed someone skiing on rollerblades!) so you have to pay attention and slow down a lot – we didn’t notice much in the way of dog dirt on the path though amazingly! Don’t expect many good views from the path either because you are always low down. The exception to this is when you cross the Avon Aqueduct (you have to push along here in case you fall in…) which gives you a stunning view down into the Avon Gorge.

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Before too long, we had reached the Falkirk Tunnel. I normally like tunnels but this one was very dark, bumpy and wet, with water leaking down from above in many places. It was too dangerous to cycle through it so we pushed our bikes for what seemed like about a mile in the darkness. It wasn’t much fun and really ruined our average speed. Thankfully, we made it safely to the other side and were greeted by a much more pleasant sight – the Falkirk Wheel. It is a rather clever mechanical contraption which joins onto the end of the Union Canal and lowers a barge down into the Forth and Clyde Canal about 50m below and at the same time raises a barge up into the Union Canal. We stopped here for an early lunch of boiled eggs, Parma Ham, cheese and oatcakes whilst we watched the barges move slowly from one canal to the other. Luckily, we didn’t require the assistance of the Falkirk Wheel to reach the Forth and Clyde Canal – we just freewheeled down the hill and turned left onto our second canal path of the day.

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Compared to the Union Canal, the Forth and Clyde Canal seemed much more “open” and you get much better views all along the way, especially of the Hills on the right hand side. The path surface is similarly decent, though perhaps a bit more gravelly in places. We saw fewer pedestrians and dogs on this path but many more cyclists, most heading the opposite way than us. Perhaps they were escaping Glasgow…? Interestingly, unlike the Union Canal, you don’t pass under many bridges on this canal, you tend to have to cycle up the slope until you meet the road and then cross over and down to the canal path again. This was quite annoying as there never seemed to be any pedestrian crossings and most of the roads were busy and hard to get across. On the plus side, there were loads of brambles growing along the canal-side so we managed to stop and fill our faces a couple of times. By about 1:30pm Dad spotted some high-rise flats on the other side of the water so he said we must be nearly there. Sure enough, it wasn’t long before we came upon a signpost pointing to Firhill Stadium 1 mile away. This is Partick Thistle’s football stadium and funnily enough Dad’s favourite team Aberdeen (OK, I quite like them too) was playing there today with a 3pm kick off. We could have stopped for a few hours to watch the game but we’d never have had enough time to cycle back to Bathgate in daylight so we cycled on. Luckily, the path took us right around the edge of the stadium and we were able to sneak a photo of the Aberdeen FC team bus. We also made note of the fact that because Firhill only has 3 stands, you get a great view of around 90% of the pitch if you are standing on the cycle path. That bit of knowledge will save you £25 next time your team are playing Partick Thistle…

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From Firhill it was a short ride along the riverside path, down a steep hill, under the M8 motorway and then right into Glasgow city centre at Cowcaddens. We thought it would be sensible to push our bikes along the pavement in the city centre but as it turned out, pushing along the crowded pedestrianised Sauchiehall Street was the worst (and slowest) thing in the world. So we decided it would be best to brave the bus lanes and one way streets, cycling around George Square and then south towards the River Clyde. It was actually easy enough, and relatively safe, and soon we were on the pavement again, heading east along the river side path of Cycle Route no.75.

Route 75 starts off as a lovely path (watch out for dogs and children though) which follows the River Clyde for quite a long way, passing Glasgow Green and at one point giving us a glimpse of another football stadium, Celtic Park. Although the path has a mainly good surface, there are places where tree roots are growing close to the surface and this makes lots of mini speed bumps which are annoying (for Dad) or fun (for me) to cycle over. Near the outskirts of Glasgow we found a ginormous patch of brambles so stopped for quite a while to fill up. The outskirts of Glasgow basically never end as the city joins on to the fairly grim-looking towns of North Lanarkshire and around these parts there was a lot of broken glass on the path to try and avoid. At one point between Uddingston and Coatbridge, the cycle route directs you to go along a very narrow, muddy path that’s overgrown with nettles – not fun at all, especially on road bikes.

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There’s also quite a number of sections where cycle route no.75 makes you go on the pavement alongside some busy main roads – this does not make for a fun cycling experience. You keep having to stop and start again, cross over roads at junctions and traffic lights so it’s hard to go a decent speed. We would have been better just going on the road and braving the traffic. It also seems to take a rather long and winding route. I reckon there must be a more direct and/or pleasant route that takes you through the country roads instead of the town so I will need to check the map later. Anyway, when we reached Airdrie, the route took us right past our 3rd football stadium of the day, the Excelsior Stadium, home of Airdie FC, so that was quite nice. After Airdrie we came to another rather grim place called Plains, where again route no.75 suggest cycling on the pavement alongside the main A89 road. At one point, we had no choice but to divert onto the road as a McGills bus had crashed into car at a junction and was blocking the way. We found the road to be much nicer to cycle on so we stayed on it for a short distance until the cycle route sign pointed to the left and we left the grim towns behind…

The 12 mile section of cycle route 75 from just outside Plains all the way to Bathgate is one of the nicest cycling paths ever. If you ignore the brief visits to Caldercruix and Blackridge, this section is almost all on a very quiet path with an amazingly smooth surface which makes you speed along nicely, especially on the long, slightly downhill sections. The views of the countryside are remarkably good too, including the beautiful Hillend Loch which the path skirts right around the edge of. You also get some very close up views of a wind farm which Dad and I both liked. The path follows the same route as the railway line as well, so we were lucky enough to spot about 10 trains before we made it back to Bathgate…

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By the time we reached Bathgate it was about 6:30pm and we were both starving. Luckily, even though he doesn’t know the town at all, Dad has a strange homing instinct and somehow managed to direct us straight to a Dominoes Pizza. So we stopped there for tea, eating outside in the sun before cycling back to the car. It was our longest cycle route so far, our first ride over 80 miles, but it didn’t actually seem that hard as there were very few hills to climb all day. Both of us commented that we felt we could have gone for another 20 miles! Apart from cycling through the grim towns of North Lanarkshire for an hour or 2, we’d had a really great day.

Oh, and in case you are wondering, Aberdeen won 4-3 to go top of the league so Dad was happy…

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!