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!

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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!

Camp Wood Hill Route

Route – Gorebridge to Camp Wood to Southside Farm to Gorebridge. Google Maps couldn’t find the off-road part of the route so for a map, see below.

See route on Strava.

campwood map

  • Weather – cloudy but dry, warm enough and not much wind.
  • Bike type – mountain bike
  • Distance travelled – 7.66 miles
  • Riding time – 50 minutes
  • Maximum speed – 32.5 mph
  • Average speed – 9.2 mph
  • Height climbed – 640 feet

A couple of Sundays ago, Dad and I took my little sister Isla on a short but very adventurous cycle route, cycling over the hill behind our school, St Andrews Primary. Part of the route follows a path that we often walk along but this time we decided it might be fun to try it on bikes. And it actually was fun.

We headed straight up the steep hill from our house, using mostly residential streets for almost a mile until we reached the B6372 road where we headed in the direction of Vogrie Country Park. After less than half a mile, we turned left onto a quiet and narrow road with a lovely smooth surface. Soon, this road starts to go very steeply uphill (Isla had to stop and push here!) but eventually we reached the high point in the road at around 250m high. The carries on back down the other side of the hill to Mayfield but today we left tarmac behind and followed the path on the right (signposted for Edgehead) which took us into Camp Wood. The first part of the path takes you through a small farm and in the past we’ve seen all sorts of animals here including donkeys and Highland cows. Today there was only a few goats and 1 horse to be seen so that was slightly disappointing. The actual track itself is rather narrow at first but then becomes much wider after you go through a gate and enter the woods. It’s also pretty bumpy and muddy in places. However, it was relatively pleasant to cycle on.

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After a short while of bumping slightly downhill through the trees, we came to a steep grassy section which was quite hard to cycle up. Dad and I managed but once again Isla had to push… At the top there is a clearing where you get amazing views across to the Moorfoot Hills in one direction and Fife, Edinburgh, Arthur’s Seat and the Pentland Hills in the other direction. Next we had to lift our bikes over a locked gate (or rather Dad did) before following the much less bumpy path through another patch of woodland for a short distance, foraging for blackberries along the way, until we emerged from the trees onto a very narrow road with a stunning view over to East Lothian in the distance. We could even see North Berwick Law and Traprain Law.

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Back on road, we headed right and our next challenge was to cycle as fast as possible down the steepest and straightest section of road in Midlothian. So Dad says anyway… I once went over 40 mph down this hill but today I only managed a reasonably poor 32.5 mph. This is a very quiet road (you’ll be more likely to meet a horse than a car) but you still need to be careful as at the bottom of the hill there is a sharp bend to the left so you must slow down before you get there or you might end up going straight on into the entrance to Southside Farm (if you don’t get run down by a tractor coming round the corner the other way that is…). We slowed down safely enough but did go straight on to follow the farm road from Southside Farm for a couple of miles, most of the way back to Gorebridge. It’s quite a well surfaced road, not too bumpy and only a few potholes to avoid. You probably wouldn’t want to drive your BMW along it but I think you could manage on a road bike if you are careful.

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About halfway along the road we came to a huge pile of massive tree trunks so we stopped there for a quick snack. Soon enough we came back to the narrow, smooth road we’d cycled on earlier on our way up to Camp Wood. This time we turned left and headed back to the B6372 for the last mile down the hill to our house in Gorebridge where we got home in time for an early lunch of poached eggs with smoked salmon.

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!

Gorebridge to Ormiston (the long way)

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

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

See route on Strava.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grand Tour of the Scottish Borders (Volume 5): The 4 Abbeys

Route out – Tweedbank to Gattonside to Newstead to Newtown St Boswells to Dryburgh to Clintmains to Kelso to Heiton. For route map click here. Note that Google Maps tells you to go onto the A68 at Leaderfoot but you don’t need to – just use the pedestrian bridge next to the viaduct to cross the river.

Route back – Heiton to Cessford to Jedburgh to Nisbet to Ancrum to Melrose to Tweedbank. For route map click here.

See route on Strava.

  • Weather – bright and reasonably sunny in the morning but lots of heavy showers in the afternoon and very windy too.
  • Bike type – road bike
  • Distance travelled – 62.7 miles
  • Riding time – 4 hours 46 minutes
  • Maximum speed – 33.7 mph
  • Average speed – 13.1 mph
  • Height climbed – 2815 feet

Last Saturday, Dad and I took our bikes on the train to Tweedbank in the Scottish Borders to try out a route I’d been thinking about doing for a while – the 4 Abbeys cycle route. This is a signposted circular route though as we found out, the signage is at times vague or even invisible so make sure you bring a map with you so you don’t get lost in the middle of nowhere. Our route is also slightly different in places but 90% of it is the same as the normal route.

After leaving the station we crossed the old bridge to the other side of the River Tweed and headed along the B6360 through Gattonside. This is a nice cycling road – quite quiet, good surface, relatively flat and nice views across to Melrose and the Eildon Hills. Before long we arrived at the Leaderfoot viaduct and immediately after passing underneath it, we nipped off the road on the right and joined a pedestrian bridge which crosses the

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River Tweed. Here you get amazing views of the viaduct. We then crossed the river and followed the narrow road (closed to traffic) for the mile or so to the village of Newstead with the Eildon Hills getting closer all the time. After cycling up a steep hill to leave the village we came to the junction with the A6091. This road is very busy so be very careful here. Luckily we only had to go on it for 30 yards and then there’s a right turn lane which we used to cross over onto the mainly traffic-free road that goes along the side of the hills and is actually part of Cycle Route no.1. This is a lovely stretch of road for cycling and has great views along the way of the Borders countryside. There’s also a brilliant fast downhill stretch for the last wee bit as you reach the town of Newtown St Boswells.

We zoomed through Newtown and then up a steep hill to the junction with the main A68 road. We only had to cross over and onto a narrow side road but the A68 is busy so we had to be very careful here. Soon we arrived at an old pedestrian bridge with a wooden floor which crosses the River Tweed and we stopped here to photograph the nice views. On the other side of the water we cycled up a steep hill and and arrived at our first abbey of the day – Dryburgh Abbey. You can’t really see anything of the abbey from the road and unless you pay loads of money at the visitor centre you are stuffed – or so we thought. Dad went in and asked the man if we could sneak in and take a quick photo but he wasn’t too keen on the idea. He was though kind enough to direct us to a spot in the grounds of the hotel next door where we could see the abbey over a high wall so we did get some photos after all.

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After Dryburgh we had a lovely ride through the countryside for quite a while, mostly slightly downhill and quite fast on a mix of quiet B roads and minor roads with lots of long straight sections. Eventually we arrived at a junction with the A6089 and we had to turn right onto this road for the last mile or so into the town of Kelso. This short section was not pleasant due lots of traffic and idiots overtaking when it wasn’t safe… However, we made it to the town centre in one piece and after stopping to photograph Kelso Abbey (no sneaking around and peaking over high walls required!) we ended up at Greggs the baker for an early lunch.

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Leaving Kelso turned out to be a complete nightmare. Our intended route (the signposted route) should have taken us along the A699 for a short way and then down a minor road to Roxburgh on the west side of the river. Unfortunately there was some event on down that road and the road was completely blocked with a traffic jam. Rather than sit in a queue of cars (and ruin our average speed!) we took a diversion along another main road instead, the A698, which would take us the same general direction but on the other side of the river. This turned out to be a bad idea as the road was busy, but even worse, it was straight into the strong wind so we struggled to go at a good speed. It was a lovely road surface though and quite flat too. After about 5 miles of this, passing a village called Heiton along the way, we came to a junction where we could turn off onto the B6401 to re-join the official 4 Abbeys route. Thank goodness for that… From there we had a lovely time cycling along deserted

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back roads (we saw only 2 cyclists and 2 walkers and no cars at all for a long time). We also had the chance to forage for wild raspberries at one point which is always nice. Just before Jedburgh, there’s a very long gradual hill to climb and then the road goes steeply downhill right into the town centre. On the outskirts of town Dad spotted a road called Rowan Road so we obviously stopped to photograph it before we quickly heading along to Jedburgh Abbey which is a very impressive ancient building overlooking the main road. It is impossible to miss as you cycle along.

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After a pleasant cycle through Jedburgh town centre and then along a short riverside path, we came upon the main A68 road on the northern outskirts of town. Here the signpost for the 4 Abbeys route isn’t clear but Dad checked the map and we were able to miss out the busy road and take a minor road that runs mainly in the same direction but on the other side of a river. This road was very quiet apart from a recently killed badger which was lying in the middle of the narrow road. Soon enough we came upon the dreaded A698 again and there was no way to avoid it this time. Thankfully it seemed a lot more pleasant cycling on it with the wind at our backs this time. After less than a mile we turned left onto the B6400. We immediately came upon an unusual narrow metal bridge that took us over the river into the village of Nisbet. From the bridge we got amazing views down the river valley to the East and West. We stayed on the B6410 for a few miles, heading westwards and slightly uphill through pleasant and peaceful countryside until the peace ended at the junction with the A68. We just needed to cross over main road to rejoin the B6400 again on the over side but it was very busy so it took quite a while till there was a suitable break in the traffic. It was there that we spotted an unusual stone bench so we stopped for a short break and watched my favourite bus go by (the Borders Buses 51).

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After our bus stop we rejoined the B6400 and cycled through a village called Ancrum. At this point the rain really started to fall heavily so we put our jackets on and pedalled as fast as we could. We had been expecting some showers but it basically rained constantly for the rest of the journey back to Tweedbank. After what seemed like hours of slogging uphill in the wet through what was probably a very nice and scenic landscape (it was certainly quiet and we hardly saw any cars or cyclists), we finally turned off onto the B6359 heading even more steeply uphill, around the Western edge of the Eildon Hills before finally reaching Melrose with an extremely steep and scarily fast downhill section right to the town centre. In the rain, that downhill section wasn’t as much fun as it should have been… Anyway, we made it to our favourite ice cream shop safely enough and filled our faces with raspberry cone (me) and 2 scoop tub (Dad). Dad managed to sneak a photo of the Abbey through the fence too. We made it back to the station with a while to wait until the next train so we went for a quick cycle around Gun Knowe Loch to pass the time. When we got back, the train pulled into the station at exactly the same time as us.

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This was a very long and challenging route with lots of hills but apart from the last hour or 2 in the rain, it was very enjoyable. If it sounds too long for you though, you could easily split it up into shorter sections. Right, I’m now ready for Grand Tour of the Scottish Borders volume 6 – where will we go next…?