Route out – Gorebridge to Crichton to Fala Dam. For route map click here.
Rout back – Fala Dam to Tynehead to Halflawkiln Farm to Crichton to Newlandrig to Gorebridge. For route map click here.
- Weather – cloudy but quite bright, not too warm and not much wind.
- Distance travelled – 20.5 miles
- Riding time – 2 hours 19 minutes
- Maximum speed 28.0 mph
- Average speed 8.8 mph
One of my favourite things about cycling in the countryside at this time of year, is that there is a foraging opportunity around every corner. During our cycle run on Sunday morning, Dad and I feasted on so many wild raspberries (and even some tasty early brambles) that we hardly even needed to eat any of the snacks we’d brought with us. I love free food!
I decided that I’d like to go for a cycle on some of the local roads that I hadn’t been on before so for a change, we left Gorebridge along Vogrie Road, heading in the same general direction as the Borders Railway line. Just outside Gorebridge you get a good view over the village and also the Pentland Hills so we stopped for a quick photo. This road is very quiet and you’re unlikely to meet any traffic at all but if you are lucky you may see a train. Just before Fushiebridge, we turned left to head steeply uphill for a while and at the top we got great views across to the hills all around. Then it was downhill for a short section, straight over the crossroads and downhill again for a bit. It was here that I reached my fastest speed of the day (and also where I found the ripe brambles). Soon, we could see the ruins of Crichton Castle in the distance and that meant the road would soon go steeply downhill into the gorge. This is a really fun piece of road to cycle on but it’s so steep and has lots of corners so you have to keep your brakes on to stop flying down the road far too fast… After the fun bit you have to cycle back up the other side of the gorge which is just as steep and seems to go on forever. Luckily I spotted a massive patch of raspberries about halfway up the hill so we stopped for a long time to fill our faces before carrying up the slope to Crichton.
At Crichton, we turned onto the B6367 for a few hundred yards before turning left onto a very narrow road which took us uphill once more. We got some good views across to Fife from here and also found loads more raspberries to fill up on. Some “kind” person had even left a couple of old sofas at the side of the road in case we needed to sit down and have a short rest. We didn’t bother but headed over the other side of the hill to the junction with the main A68 road where, believe it or not, we saw our first traffic of the day after already an hour or so out on the road. There’s a very short downhill section on the busy main road before you reach the Fala Dam turn off, but if you don’t want to ride on the A68 (and I don’t recommend it if you want to stay alive), there’s a section of pavement you can use instead to keep safe.
After another mile or so of deserted single track roads, we arrived in Fala Dam, speeding down the steep slope into the hamlet, where we stopped for a drink of water. A nice dog came over to make friends with us but we didn’t feed him any of our raspberries… Then we turned right and headed back out of Fala Dam up another steep road and soon came to the A68 once again, where we had to wait for about 3 minutes until there was a gap in the traffic before we could cross over onto the B6458 road to Tynehead. This road should win a prize for being the straightest, quietest and more importantly, the flattest B road in Midlothian. It was a lovely road to cycle on. It also had plenty raspberries to growing along the side, so we stopped to forage once more on the way to Tynehead. At Tynehead we turned right onto the B6367 to head for home but not far along the road Dad decided it might be fun to take the turning for Halflawkiln Farm. He’d seen a road marked on the map which would take us to the A7 near Middleton and that would make the route more of a loop (and avoid going back via the steep hill at Crichton). The road to Halflawkiln Farm crosses a bridge over the Borders Railway and this morning, we spotted a few people with cameras lurking around. On a Sunday this normally means only one thing so we stopped to ask. Sure enough, a steam train came puffing passed only a few minutes later so this was easily the highlight of the day. Unfortunately, when we reached the farm, the road that Dad had seen on the map appeared to have disappeared into thin air and we ended up with a choice of going back or trying to find another route through a field of cows. We had been walking in this area before so knew the area well enough and ended up on the path that leads you through the trees to Crichton Castle. Unfortunately at this time of year, the path was extremely overgrown with nettles and ferns that even pushing our bikes was a real struggle. So after wasting about half an hour and getting stung several times, I had had enough and we turned around a headed back passed the farm to the B6367. Annoyingly, this ruined our average speed for the trip but we did get some nice views across Midlothian.
Back on the road, we speeded downhill to Crichton and then back down the really steep hill (stopping to eat some more raspberries) and then back up out of the gorge once more. I decided that it would be fun to see how fast I could cycle up the hill this time and managed to go over 8mph. Dad couldn’t even keep up… At the top we turned right and went along the single track road to Newlandrig and then headed back along the B6372 to Gorebridge in time for lunch. No more raspberries though – just cheese on toast!