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.

Redford to Lunan Bay

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

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

See route on Strava here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gorebridge to Haddington (alternative route)

Route out – Gorebridge to Newtongrange to Newbattle to Whitecraig to Musselburgh to Prestonpans to Port Seaton to Longniddry to Haddington. For route map click here.

Route back – Haddington to Gifford to Humbie to Fala to Fala Dam to Tynehead to Middleton to Fushiebridge to Gorebridge. For route map click here.

  • Weather – mostly dry and reasonably bright with some sunny spells. Warm enough and not much wind. One annoying shower in the afternoon though.
  • Distance travelled – 50.72 miles
  • Riding time – 5 hours 5 minutes
  • Maximum speed – 30.9 mph
  • Average speed – 9.9 mph

Sunday was the first non-school day when the weather forecast was good so Dad and I decided to make the most of it and go for our longest ride of the year, a trip to Haddington in East Lothian but going a much more round about way than we did last year. We were out of bed and onto the road by 7:15am, speeding downhill through Newtongrange and Newbattle before turning right at the mini roundabout just after Newbattle Abbey. This took us through a residential area and then, after lifting our bikes over a fence, we joined the path of National Cycle Route no.1. This is a lovely section of route no.1, mainly off road, taking you through the golf course and then along an old railway line to the village of Whitecraig. Here, there’s a short section on road but route no.1 quickly takes you off road again next to the River Esk. The path soon splits at a bridge over the river and here we said goodbye to route no.1 and followed the River Esk path right into the centre of Musselburgh, passing a nice waterfall and going under a railway bridge along the way.

From Musselburgh we followed a combination of the well signposted routes of Cycle Route no.76 and the John Muir Way, staying off road almost all the way to Longniddry. We’ve been this way before so won’t go into detail here apart from to say it is a really nice route with amazing views to Edinburgh and Fife and is highly recommended for cyclists of all ages and abilities. Just next to Longniddry railway station, we followed the blue signpost for the Longniddry to Haddington Railway path which is a continuation of Route 76. We timed this perfectly, just in time to see a Virgin Train speeding through on its way to London. The path itself is probably OK to cycle on in the summer, but we discovered that it was very muddy (and uphill) for about 3 miles or so, so it wasn’t much fun. Thankfully, at Haddington the path becomes tarmac and then joins onto a minor road going back downhill until you reach the main A6093 road. We crossed over this road and followed the cycle route signs through a housing estate until we ended up on the River Tyne Walkway. This was a bit muddy again but we saw swans and another waterfall here and it was actually quite pleasant. We stopped on a bench for a snack next to the waterfall and it was then that Dad noticed that my front tyre had a puncture. Luckily Dad always brings spare inner tubes and it didn’t take him long to the muddy wheel off, the new tube in and the wheel back on. It did, however, take him an age to pump up the new tube with his rubbishy little hand pump. I was starting to get bored waiting and Dad’s right arm was knackered by the time he was finished. Just as well he’d brought 2 Yorkie bars with him today!

We left Haddington along the B6369, passing Lennoxlove House on the way. This road features a couple of right-angle bends and would be a lovely road to cycle on if it wasn’t nearly all uphill and also so busy with traffic. Never mind, it was only about 4 miles to the historic village of Gifford, where we stopped to admire some amazing old-fashioned road signs and a field of crocuses before having our lunch of boiled eggs, oatcakes and carrot sticks. After lunch we followed the B6355 and B6368 roads until we reached Humbie. These are much quieter and more pleasant roads for cycling on, with good surfaces and lots of ups and downs to keep it interesting. There are some good views of the Lammermuir hills too. The village of Humbie is a small place but it does have a nice-looking coffee shop type place called the Humbie Hub. We didn’t go in but did stop to admire their impressive sign. Whilst there, Dad spotted another amazing sign – an old Shell garage sign which appeared to be growing inside a giant hedge.

A mile or so after Humbie, we turned off onto the B6457 which took us back into Midlothian and Fala Village. Here, we turned right onto the narrow road that takes you very fast down the hill to Fala Dam before climbing back up the other side equally steeply but much more slowly… At the top we stopped to photograph some unusual looking sheep-goat-things with giant horns on their heads before continuing the short distance until the road reached cycling hell, also known as the A68. We’re not daft enough to cycle on this road as it is far too busy and the traffic travels too fast so we stayed on the pavement at the side of the road for a hundred yards or so before crossing carefully over onto the the B6458 which took us, slightly uphill, all the way to Tynehead. We had to cycle in the rain for a mile or 2 but it did mean we got a great view of a rainbow afterwards. From Tynehead we went straight on, taking the recently resurfaced and extremely smooth B6367 for a couple of miles until it reached the main A7 road. Unlike the A68, the A7 is reasonably safe to venture onto on a bike, especially on the downhill sections when you can go quite fast. It’s also a nice wide road with a good surface and nowhere near as busy. Anyway, we headed north on the A7 for about 1.5 miles, downhill and very fast before turning off at the minor road to Middleton. There’s not much in Middleton except 2 farms and a Cycle Route no.1 signpost but from there we had a very fun few miles of fast downhill cycling on a deserted back road (reaching over 30mph at one point). We eventually re-joined the A7 for a few hundred yards of downhill speeding until we turned off onto the quiet road to Fushiebridge. We saw our second train of the day here on the Borders Railway so that was well timed again. Then it was all uphill along a narrow and rather bumpy road which took us back to Gorebridge, near the top of Lady Brae. We then just had a short freewheel down another hill to get home. To Dad’s delight, we even made it home just in time to watch the football on the TV…