Grand Tour of the Scottish Borders (vol. 3)

Route out – Tweedbank to Abbotsford to Lindean to Selkirk to Ashkirk to Hawick. For route map click here.

Route back – Hawick to Minto to Newtown St Boswells to Dryburgh to Leaderfoot to Newstead to Melrose to Darnick to Tweedbank. For route map click here. Note Google maps says to go onto the A68 at Leaderfoot but this isn’t necessary. Just head onto the B6360 and immediately pull off the road on the left and use the pedestrian bridge next to the viaduct to cross the river.

  • Weather – mainly sunny with some cloudy intervals, cool at first but warmer later and no wind at all.
  • Distance travelled – 52.40 miles
  • Riding time – 5 hours 11 minutes
  • Maximum speed – 32.2 mph
  • Average speed – 10.1 mph
  • Height climbed – 3346 feet

The weather forecast looked perfect for cycling on Easter Monday so Dad and I got up at some unbelievably stupid time in the morning and found ourselves (and our bikes) on the 6:49 train from Gorebridge to Tweedbank. Half an hour later we were on our bikes, cycling through a housing estate and then around the lovely Gun Knowe Loch in Tweedbank before crossing the main road and onto the quiet B6360 which goes past the home of Scots writer Sir Walter Scott, Abbotsford House. This road was follows the River Tweed and is lined with trees and has loads of wild garlic growing on the verges which made an amazing smell as we cycled along. After a few miles we had no choice but to turn left onto the main A7 road. It’s only 2 or 3 miles along the A7 to the town of Selkirk but the road was very busy and if you’ve read the blog before, you will know we prefer to stick to the back roads so after only half a mile or so we decided to turn left and take the long cut. The long cut took us onto a deserted single track road which straight away went steeply uphill. We cycled through a tiny place called Lindeen and then up and up and up for a long long long time until at the top of the hill, we came to an un-signposted junction on the right, heading sharply (almost backwards) at a reflex angle. From there it was a very fast and fun descent for a couple of miles down to Selkirk with some nice views of the Borders countryside all around us.

We left Selkirk along the B7009, heading into the stunning Ettrick Valley and following the Ettrick Water for a while. We turned off this road when we saw a sign for Ashkirk and this took us up another steep hilly single track road for quite a long time. It was nice and quiet though and the views of the hills and valleys got better and better the higher we went. Since it was Easter, we stopped halfway up the hill and rolled our eggs. Dad had painted his egg like Derek McInnes the Aberdeen FC manager but after I’d smashed it down the hill, it no longer looked like him! McInnes tasted fine though… At the top of the hill we crossed a cattle grid and then it was simply a case of zooming back down the other side to the village of Ashkirk. Just before the village, Dad spotted a very unusual road sign warning car drivers not to go down a certain road because their “sat-nav is wrong and the road isn’t suitable for cars” (see photo below). It was probably OK for bikes but we stuck to the proper road this time. Askirk seemed nice enough but beware that there’s a lot of misleading sign posts there pointing to various places and most of them seemed to be pointing in completely the wrong direction. We ignored the sign pointing left to the golf course and Roberton and instead headed right – in the direction of the golf course and Roberton…

After a few miles of easy cycling along a nice quiet road, we came to yet another uphill section as the narrow road took us up very high and into some really remote and hilly countryside. It was perfect for cycling as it was quite a gradual climb really and the views were amazing. We even saw some baby Highland cows in a field. After a short while cycling right along the top of the hills, the road then went downhill for a long time (maybe 4 or 5 miles) and we sped far too fast until we reached the junction with the B711 where we turned left and cycled along a much flatter and very smooth road for a couple of miles, following a river. Just before reaching the A7 again we turned left onto a minor road which took us to the park on the outskirts of Hawick so we cycled through the park and then over a bridge into the town centre where we stopped at Greggs for an early lunch (cheese and onion pasty for me, 2 sausage rolls for Dad).

We followed the Border Loop cycle route signs out of Hawick on a minor road and were soon in the countryside once more. This area is extremely quiet and scenic and the roads are nicely surfaced with lots of ups and downs so it is ideal for cycling. After a while we came to a crossroads with lots of signs on it so we chose Minto. This turned out to be a rather steep choice but we found that Minto is very pleasant place with a golf course and a nice church. We stopped there for a snack of oatcakes and Dad spotted 2 pheasants that were either fighting or mating – we didn’t stay long enough to find out… After Minto it was uphill again and we cycled around the side a rather distinctive dome-shaped hill (called Minto Hill funnily enough). Then it was basically another 6 miles of peaceful cycling on quiet roads with lots of ups and downs (mainly downs this time) heading closer and closer to the impressive Eildon Hills as we eventually reached Newtown St Boswells.

We quickly headed out of town, across the main A68 road and along a quiet road for less than a mile before crossing over a pedestrian bridge over the River Tweed to Dryburgh. There’s an abbey near there but we didn’t see it today and instead followed the road which would takes us the long was back to Melrose via the Leaderfoot viaduct. Before reaching the viaduct though, we had yet another hill to climb but it was well worth it as the views from the top were amazing. There’s a view point at the top called Scott’s View because it was Sir Walter Scott’s favourite view in the Borders. He was right enough as the view of the Eildon Hills and valley below was reasonably remarkable I thought. Then it was a short and fast downhill section to Leaderfoot and the amazing viaduct which came into view just as we cycled underneath the main A68 road. Just there, we turned left onto a pedestrian bridge which carried us over the Tweed once more and provided us with great views of the viaduct. After crossing the bridge we turned right onto a road that is not open to cars (there’s a locked gate at the end of it) but it’s good for bikes and it took us right under the viaduct and down to the village of Newstead. It was then just a mile along the B6394 to Melrose (where we stopped as usual for an ice cream) before heading back to the train station in Tweedbank following Cycle Route no.1 via Darnick. Oh, just outside Melrose on the B6394, Dad spotted a very large banner advertising a fencing company who claim to be the “Erection Specialists” (see picture below). He was basically in tears with laughter but I didn’t have a clue why. Dad says I will understand the joke in a few years time…

Today was really fun day out with lots of hills to climb, very little in the way of traffic and some of the best views we’ve had whilst out cycling. We love going to the Borders but it’s a big place and there’s still lots more of it to explore so stay tuned for Grand Tour vol.4 sometime soon…

Gore Glen Circular Loop

Route out – Gorebridge to Gore Glen to Arniston Estate to Temple. For route map click here and then, because Google Maps isn’t clever enough to go off-road,  follow the black line drawn on this map:

gore glen map

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

  • Weather – dull with light and patchy rain. No wind though.
  • Distance travelled – 8.78 miles
  • Riding time – 1 hour 7 minutes
  • Maximum speed – 29.8 mph
  • Average speed – 7.8 mph

On Easter Sunday, we had some time to kill before going to Grandma’s house for tea so Dad and I decided to go for a short local cycle. Just to be a bit more adventurous than usual, this included a 5 mile off-road section along one of our favourite walking routes through Gore Glen and the Arniston Estate following the Gore Water and then the River South Esk all the way to the village of Temple.

We headed out of Gorebridge along Engine road (which is the bumpiest road in the world) and soon turned left onto the single track road which leads you through the trees into Gore Glen. After a short time, you have to pass a through a gate and the road turns into a narrower but still tarmaced track running close to the Borders railway line. Our route was on the other side of the railway track so unfortunately, we had to hump our bikes up and over the pedestrian bridge. Luckily Dad is very strong and he carried my bike up to the top of the bridge…

After that, the fun started with a very steep drop down into the glen which takes you underneath the main A7 road. The surface was quite loose and very bumpy but with brakes fully on, we both managed to get to the bottom without falling off. We then had a nice ride for about a mile or so along the good quality but narrow footpath which follows the Gore water, passing through endless amounts of wild garlic on both sides of the track. I stopped to forage some garlic at one point (the leaves are really tasty!). We then crossed over a rather rickety looking hump-backed bridge where the Gore Water joins the larger River South Esk. From that point the path follows the South Esk the rest of the way to Temple. However, the path is nowhere near as good after that and we had to watch out for lots of tree roots, pine cones, rutted dried mud, swampy wet mud and fallen trees. We saw some amazing caves, a badger’s den, a waterfall, an old water-pumping-station-shed-thing and some massive, ancient Beech and Giant Redwood trees along the way. We had a great time and it was a pleasant change from cycling on the road. Just before we reached Temple we passed under a rather impressive road bridge and then had to endure the impossible section, resorting to pushing our bikes up and down a lot of steep steps before eventually emerging out of a wooden gate and onto the road once more.

From Temple, we followed the quiet road to the peaceful village of Carrington. I’m sure people must live in the houses there but strangely, you never see anyone… Today, we stopped to have a nosey at the unusual looking church. We then sped back down the narrow road past Carrington Barns farm and fields of oil seed rape and then down a really steep hill and into Gore Glen once more. From there, we headed straight back up another monster hill, over a bridge across the Borders Railway line again and back into Gorebridge via the new cycle path through Arniston Park. We made it home just in time to go to Grandma’s where I had my favourite broccoli quiche for tea…

NOTE FROM DAD: We often go walking along the off-road section of this route and although it was basically fine to cycle at this time of year, once the nettles, ferns and brambles start to grow in the next month or two, much of the River South Esk path will be overgrown and probably impossible to ride on. It will also likely be much muddier through the summer too so best to attempt this route when it’s dry in the winter or spring. ie. go now before it’s too late…

 

Gorebridge to Tweedbank (Volume 2)

Route out – Gorebridge to Crichton to Fala Dam to Fala to Gilston to Fountainhall to Stow to Langshaw to Gattonside to Melrose to Eildon to Newton St Boswells to Bowden to Darnick to Tweedbank. For route map click here.

Route back – Borders Railway (Tweedbank to Gorebridge).

  • Weather – sunny with a light breeze. Cool at first but warm later.
  • Distance travelled – 44.35 miles
  • Riding time – 4 hours 26 minutes
  • Maximum speed – 35.4 mph
  • Average speed – 10.0 mph
  • Height climbed – 3245 feet

On Saturday Dad and I continued our recent theme of cycling to Tweedbank and then getting the train home to Gorebridge, this time going the hard way over lots of really steep hills. The first part of the route takes you through some of the most scenic parts of Midlothian on very quiet single track roads which are perfect for cycling. The route we took is exactly the same as one we went on previously when going from Gorebridge to Fala Dam so read that blog for more detail. We were out really early (7am start) so this meant there was loads of wildlife out and about. We spotted 2 buzzards, 3 deer and 1 hare in only the first few miles from the house. After Fala Dam there’s a huge steep hill to climb on the way to Fala Village. Fala looks like it would be a fine place to stay so we stayed for a bit, stopping there for a well earned break. I had an orange for my snack and Dad had a much healthier snack (so he said) of a bag of salt and vinegar crisps…

After that we headed out of the village, downhill and extremely fast on the B6457 for a mile or so until we entered East Lothian just before the junction with the B6368. Here, we turned right and headed towards the hills in the distance. Eventually, we came to the junction with the main A68 road – normally a road that we would avoid like the plague as it’s really busy. However, today we had no choice but to venture onto it, turning left and cycling gradually uphill for a few hundred yards before turning off (using the handy right turn lane for safety) onto the B6368 once again – AKA the Gilston Road. By the way, our minute or so on the A68 was actually fine as it was still early in the day and the traffic was relatively light. The road surface was also nice and smooth. Anyway, from this point on, the B6368 is actually a really quiet single track road and it climbs right along the border between Midlothian and the Scottish Borders (actually just inside the Scottish Borders) quite steeply at first up to the high point of 369 m at some historic place called Soutra Aisle. We stopped for a look at it but I preferred the view of the Soutra Hill wind turbines in the distance. The 6 miles we cycled along the road were brilliant fun with lots of amazingly fast downhill sections and some short but steep uphills. The views of the hills and countryside were nice and we saw lots of baby lambs in the fields – and also a dead badger at the side of the road for the 2nd time in 2 days… We also only passed 1 or 2 cars in half an hour which made the cycle even more pleasant.

The Gilston road ends with a fast downhill section which takes you to the junction with the A7 road, the main road between Edinburgh and Galashiels. It’s a much safer road to cycle on than the A68 as it is nowhere near as busy for some reason. We turned left and cycled for a mile or 2, slightly downhill and really fast along the newly resurfaced road, before turning right into the village of Fountainhall. We then took the quiet back road south for a few miles of ups and downs through the peaceful and picturesque Borders countryside. The road basically follows the route of the railway line and luckily we spotted a few trains today, including one with an incredible 5 coaches (most unusual for the Borders Railway!). Soon we reached Stow where we turned off the back road and cycled downhill past the train station and over a bridge across the Gala Water and into the main part of the village. There’s a few shops and cafes in Stow but we only stopped long enough to photograph the 15% gradient sign at the side of the B6362 (signposted for Lauder). We weren’t going that way though and instead followed the Border Loop cycle route sign up an equally steep (or more likely even more steep) narrow road that took us out of Stow and into the countryside again. The road was unbelievably steep for the first while, easily the steepest road we’ve cycled up. Dad checked the map later on and reckons we climbed 200m in only a mile or so. The hill seemed to go on forever but luckily, someone had had the good idea to put a bench halfway up so we stopped there for a snack and to enjoy the views of the hills. After what seemed like forever, the road started to level out a bit to what I would describe as “only quite steep” and the wind farm came into view. It’s quite an amazing sight to see the wind turbines right up close, though today, they were barely turning at all due to the lack of wind… After the high point on the road of 372m it was all downhill for ages and we fairly sped along, trying not to crash at a right-angled bend, before passing a farm and a nice woodland and then reaching the junction with the back road from Lauder to Galashiels.

We turned right here and cycled south towards Gala, mainly downhill and very fast again along a reasonably quiet and reasonably surfaced road. There were some cars but the road is wide enough for them to overtake safely enough. The views along this road are pretty good, especially as you near Gala and the Eildon Hills come in to view in the distance. After that really fun section, we came to the B6374 road from Galshiels to Melrose. We turned left for Melrose. This road was not much fun at all with a lot of traffic and corners, making it hard for cars to get past us. After a few minutes, Dad spotted a signpost for Gattonside Mains and decided to follow it, turning off the busy road and going left onto a deserted single track road. This was certainly a long cut but was worth it to get away from all the cars. It turned out to be one of the best cycling roads ever as it climbed up high above the River Tweed and the views of the Eildon Hills were unexpectedly good. We saw no traffic at all – just 1 horse and 1 dog – and after a couple of miles, the road went steeply downhill and we sped into the village of Gattonside far too fast, even with our brakes on full… We crossed over the main road in Gattonside and then headed for the River Tweed, crossing into Melrose over the Chain Suspension Bridge as we did the last time we were here. Arriving in Melrose, we soon noticed that the town was much busier than usual – we hadn’t realised that the Melrose 7s rugby tournament was on today. Luckily, our favorite bakery and ice cream shop were less mobbed than the surrounding streets so we enjoyed a lunch of 2 macaroni pies (Dad) and a cheese and onion pasty (me) followed by a raspberry cone (me) and a 2 scoop tub (Dad).

After lunch, we had plenty energy and plenty time left before we needed to get a train home so we decided to cycle around the Eildon Hills before heading back to Tweedbank station. For some reason I really like the Eildon Hills and me and Dad often come down here to climb them but this would be my first time cycling around them. First we left Melrose and followed Cycle Route no.1 along a mainly traffic free road to the left of the hills. There’s a gate blocking the road so only bikes can go past a certain point beside the Rhymer’s Stone. Soon you start to get good views to the south as we cycled past the village of Eildon itself and then onto the town of Newtown St Boswells. Here we took the B6398 road to Bowden which is a lovely straight road that takes you around the back of the Eildon hills and gives you probably the best unspoiled views of all. After Bowden (which seemed like a lovely little village), we turned right onto the B6359 which turned out to be suspiciously uphill for quite a while but at least it was a quiet road so we plodded along enjoying the views for a couple of miles. Then we came to the best part of the ride. We followed a signpost for the 4 Abbeys cycle route and turned off onto a narrow road on the left. This turned out to be one of the steepest and fastest roads I’ve ever been on and it was brilliant fun despite a few hairy moments on the corners. It was a bit like downhill mountain biking with out any of the mud, rocks or trees… In only a minute we’d sped all the way to Darnick and from there, we simply had to follow the Cycle Route no.1 signs for a couple of miles back to the station at Tweedbank. We got the 1:30pm train and were home just after 2pm. Brilliant weather, brilliant scenery and a brilliant day out.

How many other ways can we go from Gorebridge to Tweedbank? Who knows…?

Gorebridge Local Loop

Route – Gorebridge to Newlandrig to Borthwick Crossroads to Gorebridge. For route map click here.

  • Weather – cloudy but quite bright, cool with a bit of a breeze.
  • Distance travelled – 6.78 miles
  • Riding time – 35 minutes
  • Maximum speed – 27.8 mph
  • Average speed 11.4 mph

This evening we decided to go for a very short circular route around Gorebridge. Silly Dad forgot to bring a camera with him so for once, we have no photos to show you. However, we’ve cycled on all these roads before so there’s plenty of photos of this area already on the blog.

Leaving the house it was immediately uphill and very steep until the top of Lady Brae. Not an easy way to start a cycle route but at least it meant that the rest of the route would be much easier. After Lady Brae we headed along the B6372, slightly downhill and very fast for about half a mile until we reached the hamlet of Newlandrig. Here, we turned right at the Tyne-Esk Trail signpost onto a very narrow road. As we sped past some trees, a Buzzard screeched and flew away right above our heads which was an impressive sight. There was then a short but steep hill to negotiate before we zoomed back down the other side, passing a horse farm, with nice views of the hills in the distance. Soon we came to a junction, with the ruins of Crichton Castle visible on the left. We went right though, speeding along the smooth single track road on the way back home.

We stopped for a quick drink at the Borthwick Crossroads where Dad spotted a dead badger at the side of the road. We left the badger to rest in peace and went straight ahead, climbing gradually up to the highest point on the route where we got some stunning views of the Moorfoot and Pentland Hills. We then came to the fastest part of the ride as we free-wheeled down the narrow road at nearly 30 mph, even with the brakes on. At the bottom of the hill we turned right to go back home, mainly downhill, to Gorebridge. It was lovely quick cycle through some very nice Midlothian countryside. The roads were also very quiet and I don’t think we saw any cars at all outside of the town which made the journey all the more pleasant. Tomorrow, we are planning to go on a slightly more adventurous cycle so stay tuned for that. Dad has even promised to bring a camera this time…

Gorebridge to Tweedbank (the long way)

Route out – Gorebridge to Middleton to Heriot to Fountainhall to Stow to Clovenfords to Galashiels to Tweedbank to Darnick to Melrose to Gattonside to Tweedbank. For route map click here.

Route back – Borders Railway (Tweedbank to Gorebridge).

  • Weather – sunny, warm and almost no wind at all.
  • Distance travelled – 46.06 miles
  • Riding time – 4 hours 18 minutes
  • Maximum speed – 29.4 mph
  • Average speed – 10.7 mph

Today, Dad and I decided to get up early and take a advantage of the brilliant weather by going for a long cycle through some of the most scenic parts of the Scottish Borders. For the first time ever, we also decided to do a one-way journey and then take the quick way home – on the Borders Railway.

The first part of the route from Gorebridge to the top of the Moorfoot Hills is exactly the same as one we did last last summer so for more details read that blog. It had snowed earlier in the week and despite the warm weather, we discovered quite a few large snow patches along the roadside near to Middleton and also on the high parts of the B7007 which took us up and over the top of the Moorfoot Hills. We also found an old sofa that some stupid idiot had dumped at the roadside… The highest of the hills in this area is Blackhope Scar and it was still fairly covered in snow which made for some great views as we cycled along the almost deserted road. At the bottom of the hill, just after Garvald Farm, we turned left onto the B709. This is a beautifully quiet section of single track road, roughly 4 or 5 fast, slightly downhill miles in this direction. The scenery was also nice in the sunshine today. We sped through Heriot and after climbing a short steep hill, we turned right onto the Old Stage Road.

The Old Stage Road is another very quiet single track road which takes you through the villages of Fountainhall and Stow. It basically runs parallel to the main A7 road, with the Borders Railway in between them. It’s a lovely road to cycle on because it is so quiet (more bikes than cars), the views are good and despite some quite steep uphill sections, there’s loads of really fast downhill bits. Heading south as we were today, it seemed as though there were more downs than ups and we certainly made good time. Oh, and another good thing about this road – you always see plenty of trains! Two things to note about this road though, there are a couple of cattle grids (one right at the bottom of a really steep hill so be careful not to hit it too fast) and also quite a few places where the road surface is rather bumpy. About 10 miles along this road we came to the one really killer hill of the day. It wasn’t so much that it was steep (though it was) but the fact that it seemed to go on for miles and miles. Thankfully the views were good on the way up and when we eventually reached the top, we found the perfect place to stop for lunch (boiled eggs, salad, oatcakes and crisps), a small patch of Beech trees with a stunning view right down the valley to the Eildon Hills at Melrose and the snow-covered Cheviot Hills in the far distance. After lunch we sped back down the other side of the hill, past a reservoir, a rock called “Dignity” and a field full of ponies. Soon enough, we whizzed down one more hill at 30 mph into the village of Clovenfords in the Tweed Valley.

As it was a nice day, we thought we’d nip into the shop in Clovernfords for an ice cream but unfortunately it now appears to be closed. So we carried on, taking the B710 downhill for a mile or so before turning left onto the A707 which runs alongside the River Tweed. It’s fairly quiet for an A road and we weren’t on it for too long anyway. After 2 miles or so we turned left following the Cycle Route no.1 signpost onto the B7060. This road climbs gradually and you end up quite high up with nice views back down the valley to the river below. After a short while, we turned left onto a very quiet narrow and scenic road which took us a few miles uphill, passing a nice little lake along the way, before speeding back down the hill into Galashiels. Judging by how quiet this road is, it must be a secret back entrance to the town…

At Gala, we skirted around the town centre, taking the A7 for a few hundred yards before turning off on the right just before Asda, onto a nice cycle path along the river side. We followed this path (which later became Cycle Route no.1 again) all the way to Tweedbank. At one point just before Tweedbank station, the path crosses a bridge over the River Tweed where you get an amazing view. It also runs very close to the railway line here and luckily for us, a train sped past at exactly the right moment… We decided not to stop at the station just yet but carried on along route no.1 into the historic village of Darnick and then into the town of Melrose. Here, just next to Melrose Abbey, we did find an ice cream shop so stopped to fill up on sugar and saturated fat. Dad had 2 scoops, the greedy monkey! We had a little bit of time to kill before the train home so we took the long way back to the station via the Chain Bridge. This is an unusual pedestrian suspension bridge crossing the River Tweed from Melrose to Gattonside. No more than 8 people are allowed on the bridge at any one time apparently… We then cycled a mile or so back along the riverside on the B6360 until we came to the B6372 and another bridge over the river, this one a hump-backed bridge with traffic lights. After the bridge, we turned right to go back along the path of route no.1 for a couple of minutes until we reached Tweedbank station again. This time we got on the train and were home in only half an hour!

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…

Gorebridge to Romannobridge (the long way)

Route out – Gorebridge to Temple to Portmore Loch to Lamancha to Romannobridge. For route maps click here and here.

Route back – Romannobridge to West Linton to Penicuik to Roslin Glen to Rosewell to Bonnyrigg to Eskbank to Newbattle to Newtongrange to Gorebridge. For route map click here.

  • Weather – dry and cold, mostly cloudy with a few sunny intervals and almost no wind.
  • Distance travelled – 44.57 miles
  • Riding time – 4 hours 27 minutes
  • Maximum speed – 29.2 mph
  • Average speed – 10 mph

Last Sunday Dad took me on a tour of some of parts of Midlothian and the northern Borders that we hadn’t cycled through before. It was freezing cold but we still had a great day out in the countryside.

We left Gorebridge on the quiet B6372 road, soon passing by the entrance to Arniston House before turning off at the signpost for Temple. The village of Temple is a lovely place but unknown to most people, there are actually 2 sides to the village. Dad described it a being a bit like a Beatles 7″ single: most people choose to turn left and uphill through the main part of the village (the A-side. eg. “I Want To Hold Your Hand”) but if you turn right and head downhill, you discover an even nicer but less visited side of the village (the B-side. eg. “This Boy”). Anyway, enough of Dad’s nonsense… We chose the B-side and headed down the steep hill, stopping to have a look at the ruins of the Old Temple Kirk on the way. After that, we faced a monster climb which took us back up the narrow road until it joined up with the B6372 once again.

We stayed on this road for a few miles going up and down (mostly up actually) over the many hidden dips until we reached the turn off for the back road to Peebles. This is a great road for cycling on as there’s very few cars and the road surface is mainly very good (Dad thought it was the smoothest road surface he’s ever cycled on). The sun even tried to come out to melt away some of the low clouds and give us a decent view of the Moorfoot hills. We cycle this way quite often but we normally turn left and head along the side of Gladhouse Reservoir. Today we kept going straight, heading for the Scottish Borders. A couple of miles past the Borders sign, we stopped at the side of the road and Dad lifted the bikes over a locked gate which marked the start of the track to Portmore Loch. A few minutes of bumpy path later, we reached the loch, a very peaceful and picturesque place to stop and have our crisps. We then followed the track on the west side of the loch, heading south into the woods. It was rather muddy but as it was nearly all downhill for a mile or two, the going was fast and it was actually really good fun, with lots of nice bumps to jump over. Eventually, just after having a sneaky peak at the massive and very posh looking Portmore House (which seemed to suddenly appear amongst the trees as if from nowhere), the mud turned into a proper road surface again and we fairly zoomed downhill along this section of private road until we reached the gatehouse at the entrance to the estate.

At this point we had no option but to turn right onto the A703 road. It’s the main road from Edinburgh to Peebles and not one I’d normally recommend due to the amount of fast traffic that uses it. However, we only had to go a few hundred yards along it (as fast as possible) to reach the minor road on the left which took us to Lamancha. This road is a great road for cycling as it’s almost completely deserted, is surrounded by beautiful Borders scenery and has a very good road surface with lots of really long straight sections. Some of the long straights were even downhill! After about 5 miles of this we arrived at a junction with another main road, the A701. This is a relatively quiet main road so much safer for us to cycle on, but first we stopped for a boiled egg (me) and a Yorkie bar (Dad) to give us an energy boost before tackling it.

We headed south along the A701 through a very nice valley. The road wasn’t too busy but the surface wasn’t all that smooth for a main road. It was mainly downhill though and in no time we had speeded past the hamlet of Lamancha (not much to see there) and also a place that sells tractors before reaching Romannobridge. Romannobridge is a very long village and it took a while to cycle right through it. Near the end, Dad spotted the actual bridge, so we stopped there for a photo. We then turned right onto the back road to West Linton. This is another great road with lots of nice views of the hills, including the Pentland Hills which became visible as we neared the village. The village itself is really lovely and quiet and would probably be a nice place to live. We stopped at the park for our lunch (oatcakes, cheese and carrot sticks).

We left West Linton along Deanfoot Road which takes you about 7 miles, most of the way to Penicuik. This is yet another amazing road to cycle on with some of the best possible views of the Pentland hills on one side and bleak open moorland on the other. I imagine it would get quite exposed here but thankfully, there was virtually no wind today. The road surface is pretty good, traffic is light and most of the road is completely straight, with the last few miles downhill and very fast. Along the way we were chased up a hill by a Border Collie (the dog won the race) and saw some rather homemade-looking signposts pointing roughly in the directions of Lamancha, West Linton and Carlops. For the last half a mile to Penicuik, we rejoined the A701 and sped down the hill to the town at well over 20 mph.

From there we took the old railway path (cycle route 196) for about 7 miles through Roslin Glen, Rosewell and Bonnyrigg until we reached Eskbank. This is a good path for cycling on and goes through some amazing railway tunnels along the way. It was very muddy in places though. In Bonnyrigg, we entered some sort of weird time warp, where at one point we were simultaneously both 2 miles and 3/4 of a mile from Eskbank…! (See photos for proof) At Eskbank we left the time warp (and cycle route 196) behind and took the B703 road through Newbattle. We then turned left onto a road called “The Beeches” which took us to Newtongrange. From there we followed the “Bryans” path which skirts around the east side of the town, eventually taking us through a small housing estate and onto Stobhill Road, which we then followed for the last mile or so back to Gorebridge.