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.


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.


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.


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…


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.


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!

Foraging in Midlothian

Route out – Gorebridge to Mayfield to Whitehill to Dalkeith to Eskbank to Bonnyrigg. For route map click here.

Route back – Bonnyrigg to Dalhousie to Carrington to North Middleton to Borthwick to Gorebridge. For route map click here.

  • Weather – mainly cool and cloudy with some brightness and not much wind.
  • Distance travelled – 22.53 miles
  • Riding time – 2 hours 10 minutes
  • Maximum speed – 33.4 mph
  • Average speed – 10.3 mph
  • Height climbed – 1663 feet

It is wild raspberry season at the moment so for our latest cycle run, I decided to take Dad on a rather up and down and winding route past most of my favourite local foraging spots. And I certainly filled my face along the way…

We had an early lunch of scrambled eggs and smoked salmon and then headed out of Gorebridge along Stobhill Road and then turned right onto the Crawlees Road which took us the mile or so to Mayfield. As I’ve mentioned before, Crawlees Road is to be avoided during the week because it is always very busy with lorries and vans using the industrial estate. However, at the weekend it is very pleasant to cycle on, with a smooth surface and because it is quite high up, you get brilliant views of Edinburgh, the Pentland Hills and most of Midlothian down below. At the junction, we turned right onto the B6982 into Mayfield. It’s not the most scenic place in the world – it’s basically one giant housing estate – but we cycled through the residential streets which took us steeply uphill until we eventually emerged from the houses and onto a narrow road which took us into the countryside and to a tiny place called D’Arcy at the top of the hill. It was here that we spotted an interesting signpost where the signs appeared to indicate that it was 2 miles and slightly downhill to Edgehead or 3 miles and much more downhill to Dalkeith. We chose Dalkeith and it was great fun free-wheeling at around 30 mph all the way to there in only a few minutes. We passed through the village of Whitehill on the way and briefly enjoyed the amazing view over Edinburgh and across the water to Fife as we sped through.

In Dalkeith we passed through some more residential streets and then joined the cycle path of cycle route no.1 which we have written about lots of times before. The path is very nice to cycle on and takes you through the Newbattle Estate and past the golf course. Most importantly though, there are millions of wild raspberries to eat along the way – including lots of delicious yellow ones. We had to keep stopping every few yards to stuff our faces so this really slowed down our average speed today. Oh well…

We basically followed route no.1 cycle path for a while after that, passing through Eskbank station (where we saw a train) and then into Bonnyrigg (more foraging along the way). At Bonnyrigg, we headed off the path but stayed with route no.1 and turned left onto the B704 in the direction of home – but we weren’t going home just yet. At the crossroads next to a church, route no.1 turns right in the direction of Carrington. We were going there but decided to take a long cut so headed straight on up the hill to Dalhousie Castle. We stopped near the castle, just before the bridge with traffic lights, to forage once again at another large patch of raspberries at the roadside. From here Dad got a great photo of Newtongrange with the old coal mine (now the mining museum) in the background. Then we crossed the bridge at the green light and headed uphill for a short distance. Just before the Lothian Cat Rescue place on the right, we turned off the road and onto a path that we know. It’s rather narrow at first and very overgrown but we managed to cycle on it reasonably OK as we passed fields of sheep and cows. The track ended at a gate which we discovered was padlocked. It tried to lift my bike over but it was too hard so Dad had to do it. It was rather annoying and given that the path is actually a signposted walking route, we thought it was rather strange that the gate was locked. Anyway, back on tarmac again, we turned right and headed down the quiet, narrow road into Gore Glen and then steeply back up the other side, passing the fields and trees that make up some of the nicest parts of Midlothian. At Carrington Barns Farm, we turned right onto a very narrow and very bumpy road, lined with trees on both sides and after half a mile or so we came to a junction with a much smoother road where we turned left, back onto cycle route no.1 once more.

We soon passed through Carrington Village and then sped along the quiet and smooth road for a mile or 2 to the junction with the B6372. We turned left here following the route no.1 signs again, soon turning off the main road onto another narrow back road which took us up a short but steep hill to Castleton farm. At the farm, we turned left onto the quietest road in the world. We cycle on it quite often but I can’t remember having ever seen a car on it and only 1 other bike. We like to call it our secret road. Anyway, it heads gradually uphill for a quite a long time. You get some of the best views along the way over to the Pentland Hills, Edinburgh and even Gorebridge! (Gorebridge even looks nice from a distance…) At the top of the hill you can even see North Berwick Law which is probably over 30 miles away in East Lothian. We then sped down the other side of the hill as fast as we could, trying not to crash at all the sharp corners. We managed thankfully. Then we turned right and soon after (just before the Limeworks) turned left into the village of North Middleton (via a handy underpass which allows you to avoid crossing over the busy A7 road). We scooted our way over the North Middleton speed bumps and out of the village on the quiet narrow road and down the steep hill to Borthwick, enjoying the views of the castle and the Borders Railway along the way. After that we had a killer climb up the other side, probably 2 miles of constant steepness. Dad couldn’t keep up with me! Eventually, at the top of the hill, just half a mile or so from home, we got amazing views of Gorebridge, the Pentland and Moorfoot Hills so all the hard work was worth it. From there it was then another simple free-wheel the rest of the way home.

It may have been only 22 miles but that route climbed over 1600 feet which really does prove just how hilly Midlothian really is. Oh, and if you like wild raspberries, Midlothian is also a great place to visit in summer…

Gorebridge to Blackhope Scar (nearly…)

Route out – Gorebridge to Fushiebridge to Middleton to Gladhouse Reservoir to Moorfoot to Moorfoot Hills. For route map click here.

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

  • Weather – mainly sunny and very warm but cloudy in the hills. Very little wind.
  • Distance travelled – 24.05 miles
  • Riding time – 2 hours 13 minutes
  • Maximum speed – 32.7 mph
  • Average speed – 10.7 mph
  • Height climbed – 1099 feet

Saturday was Gorebridge gala day. It’s a great day out if you enjoy bagpipes, junk food, expensive rides and even more expensive bouncy castles, surrounded by hundreds of noisy drunk people and screaming kids… It’s actually really not that bad but this year Dad and I decided to give it a miss because the weather was nice, so we went cycling instead. My sister Isla (who is only 7 years old) came with us too. It turned out to be her longest ever bike ride. It also turned out to be a bit of an adventure so read on…

After an early lunch of boiled eggs and soldiers, we took a familiar route out of Gorebridge along Vogrie Road and out into the Midlothian countryside. The narrow road took us through some Beech trees, high up above the Borders Railway line and soon we were at the lovely place called Fushiebridge where we stopped to look for trains as we crossed over the bridge to the other side of the train track. Sadly no trains to be seen today. We then sped down the hill until reached the junction with the main A7 road where we saw our first cars of the day. Rather than cycle on the busy road, we turned left and took the pavement along the side and cycled for a few hundred yards until we reached the Midlothian Council gritter depot. At that point we (very safely) pushed our bikes across the A7 and took another very quiet, narrow and very smooth road for about a mile or so (passing the Middleton Limeworks and climbing a massive hill) before we came to the crossroads at Middleton where we stopped for our first snack of the day (apple, orange and banana for me, Isla and dad). From Middleton, we got an amazing view back through the trees to Gorebridge which looked surprisingly nice in the sunshine with Arthur’s Seat in the background.

Next we followed the signpost for Bonnyrigg and cycled around the back of the limeworks quarries. You get some of the best views of the Pentland Hills, Edinburgh and even East Lothian along this road as it’s very high up. It’s also almost traffic-free but it is part of Cycle Route no.1 so you normally see lots of cyclists. Not today though strangely enough, despite the good weather. We turned left at the next proper junction, speeding past Outerston Farm and fields of sheep as we headed in the direction of the Mootfoot Hills. At the end of this road, we turned left again and up a steep hill and a mile or so of deserted back road later, we had arrived at Gladhouse Reservoir which looked nice in the sunshine with the Moorfoot Hills behind it. We stopped here for another snack (Yorkie buttons for Isla and oatcakes for me and dad) before heading along the smooth, mainly flat narrow road around the side of the reservoir.

After a few minutes we reached a junction and turned left onto another quiet and equally smooth road for only a few hundred yards before turning left at the sign for Moorfoot. Straightaway, we got an amazing view of the Moorfoot Hills as we cycled the half mile or so to Moorfoot Farm where the proper road ended. There, we followed a bumpy track, climbing gradually as we went, passing the ruins of Hirendean Castle and following a stream (which was actually the River South Esk) further and further into the hills. We’d never been along here before so weren’t sure what to expect and it was really quite hard to cycle on but we managed reasonably well. Even Isla didn’t complain too much… Eventually, with Bowbeat wind farm not too far ahead on top of the hill and just before reaching a small hut, the path forked in two. Dad checked the map and worked out that the left path would eventually take us to the top of the hill and to the highest point in the area called Blackhope Scar (651m high) which lies right on the border between Midlothian and the Borders. I’d always wanted to go there so we went that way. It was far too steep and bumpy to cycle on though so we left the bikes (and helmets) and decided to take a walk up to the top of the hill. It was a short and easy walk to the top and we got an amazing view of the wind farm as the sun came out from the clouds. Unfortunately, the path ran out about 100m below (and probably 20 minutes from) the summit and the grassy ground was very squelchy and boggy and we didn’t have walking boots on, so we decided (or rather Dad decided) it wasn’t worth getting wet feet for the sake of getting to the very top. So we headed back down the bumpy path to our bikes and we sped downhill along the bumpy track back to Moorfoot.

Leaving the hills and the Moorfoot road behind, we turned right and headed uphill on the quiet road until the junction with the B6372. We turned right and cycled for a mile or 2 along a very straight road, mostly downhill and with loads up humps and hollows to make it fun. Just outside Temple, we turned left and followed another quiet road for a mile or so to the village of Carrington where we turned right onto the very narrow back road to Gore Glen. This road is all downhill for about 2 miles and is great fun to cycle on. Just watch out you don’t go too fast down the very steep section just before the Glen as there’s a sharp bend at the bottom of the hill and it would be easy to end up in the trees… Then there was another steep hill to get up from the Glen and back to the junction with the A7 main road. From there we turned left and headed up one last hill into Gorebridge through the new housing estate and then Arniston Park before heading home. It wasn’t the longest cycle route in the world (though it actually was a world record for Isla!) but it was certainly one of the most interesting, most scenic and most enjoyable.

Redford to Carrot Hill

Route out – Redford to Greystone to Carrot Hill. For route map click here.

Route back – Carrot Hill to Inverarity to Whigstreet to West Hills to Redford. For route map click here.

  • Weather – sunny and warm with a light breeze.
  • Distance travelled – 22.04 miles
  • Riding time – 1 hour 55 minutes
  • Maximum speed – 28.8 mph
  • Average speed – 11.5 mph

We were up north visiting Granny and Granda last weekend and since the weather was really nice, Dad and I decided to go for a cycle in the Angus countryside. I had spotted an intriguingly named place called Carrot Hill on the map and since it was only around 10 miles from Granny’s house we decided to head for there. To look for carrots obviously…

We left Granny’s house in the village of Redford after lunch and headed along the B961 for a few hundred yards, past the primary school, before turning left to go down the single track “Slade” road. This is really just a farm road and soon we reached the farm where there were mountains of grain piled up next to the road. After the farm, the road turned into a bumpy track for a while but after passing the disused Carmyllie Quarries, we were back on tarmac again on another very quiet road which headed slightly uphill past lots of potato and wheat fields to a high point near Drummygar where we got a nice view over to the hills in the north west (and also found some brambles to eat…).

The roads around here are all quiet and in quite good condition so it was a smooth cycle up to Mains of Carmyllie farm where we stopped to enjoy the views over the Angus countryside. From there it was steeply downhill to Greystone but at the bottom of the hill we had to slow down to avoid some tractors that were parked in the middle of the road. Next we turned left onto the B9128 for a short way before turning right onto the B9127. You get some great views of the Grampiam Mountains far in the distance along this road so we stopped for a photo or 2. Eventually we came to a crossroads and had to check the ancient map that we’d “stolen” from Granda to make sure we went the right way. The right way was actually left onto the B978. This road is a bit busier than the others we were on today because it’s one of the back roads from Forfar to Dundee. One of the cars that overtook us tooted its horn – it was Granny’s car! I thought I knew where they were going…

The B978 goes steeply downhill and then back uphill again for a couple of miles. At the top, we got a good view over to the sea about 10 miles away near Dundee. It seemed to take ages but eventually we turned right onto a quiet narrow, straight road and we could see Carrot Hill in the distance. I couldn’t see any carrots though. At the end of the road we turned right and soon came to the parking area where – surprise surprise – we saw Granny and Granda and Auntie Janis, Mum and Isla. They had come to meet us and were all wearing their Rowan’s Recommended Riding Routes t-shirts too. Well, apart from Mum that is. As a punishment, we made her take a photo of us all at the amazing viewpoint overlooking the Grampian Mountains. It’s one of the most scenic places we’ve ever been to on our bikes I think. The visibility was so good that we could even see Lochnagar, one of the highest mountains in Scotland, around 40 miles away. After the photo, we walked part of the way up Carrot Hill but found no carrots at all – only wild blueberries, and lots of them. I filled my face of course, to give me energy for the journey back…

The next section was extremely fast downhill and was great fun. However, even though it is a quiet road, there are quite a few sharp corners so we had to be careful not to go too fast. It was still the fastest part of the route though. We then cycled through a couple of miles of nice countryside until we came to the village of Inverarity. Here, we turned right onto the B9127 which took us gradually uphill to a small place Whigstreet. Just before we reached the village we finally did find some carrots – growing in a field! At the crossroads in Whigstreet, we turned left onto another narrow road which went slightly uphill for a bit and then though some woods. After a mile or we turned right onto a completely straight and flat road which took us quickly to the B9128 once more, close to a place called Craichie. We didn’t go there though but turned right to head back to Redford. This road is a lot more uphill than it looks but the view from the top across the hills to Forfar is really quite nice. After that, it was mostly downhill (apart from an easy uphill section at West Hills) on yet another single track road the last mile or 2 back to Granny’s House.

Cycling in Angus is really enjoyable. It’s not as hilly as Midlothian or The Borders and there’s an incredible number of quiet country roads to choose from. The scenery is also amazing. I think we’ll be coming back later on to do a Grand Tour of Angus so stay tuned for that…

Grand Tour of the Moorfoot Hills

Route Out – Gorebridge to Crichton to Tynehead to Fala Dam to Fala to Heriot to Pirntaton Farm. For route map click here.

Route Back – Pirntaton Farm to Over Shiels Farm to George Wood to Ladyside Farm to Middleton to Gorebridge. For route map click here.

A large part of this route is off road through Fala Moor and the Moorfoot Hills so make sure you remember to take a map with you so you don’t get lost. See images below for the maps we took with us.

  • Weather – Sunny and cloudy, light winds and quite warm.
  • Distance Travelled – 38.69 miles
  • Riding Time – 4 hours 31 minutes
  • Maximum Speed – 30.1 mph
  • Average Speed – 8.5 mph

The weather brightened up on Saturday afternoon, so after lunch Dad took me on an amazing cycle route through the Moorfoot Hills that he’d discovered a while ago. He told me it would be really scenic but also extremely steep in places so would be very hard. He was right…

The first part of the route is basically the same as the Gorebridge to Fala Dam route that we went on a few weeks ago. We varied it slightly by staying on the B6367 all the way from Crichton to Tynehead. This is a nice quiet road with good views of the Pentland and Moorfoot Hills but it also felt a lot steeper than it looked for most of the way. At Tynehead we turned left onto the B6458. I thought this road looked completely flat but it must have been slightly downhill and we fairly zoomed the few miles to the junction with the main A68 road at almost an average of 20mph. Then, after crossing over the A68 onto a single track road (where we saw some rather unusual looking goats), we sped downhill to Fala Dam (where we once again met up with the nice old dog that we saw the last time we stopped there). After Fala Dam there’s a really steep uphill section for about a mile until the village of Fala. Here, we stopped for a rest and some crisps in the play park before tackling one of the hardest sections of the route – the Fala Moor Road.

About 50 yards outside Fala, you need to cross over the busy A68 road to get onto the Fala Moor Road. It’s not really a road (Dad says it maybe used to be a long time ago) and it’s very bumpy and covered with loose stones making the relatively gentle slope really hard to cycle on – not at all suitable for road bikes. It was a bit of a slog really, but at least we saw 2 deer on the way up. Once at the top, the “road” becomes a bit less bumpy (thankfully) and levels out at around 300m high for a couple of miles through the moor and we got some nice views of the hills and some wind farms in the distance. The “road” ends suddenly at a sharp right turn and becomes a track through sheep and cow fields. Thanks to the recent rain and the cows, the track either side of the several gates along the way had turned into a muddy swamp which was impossible to cycle through. It was a bit of a relief to eventually reach Brothershiels Farm where we rejoined a proper tarmac road once more for the last mile until the junction with the main A7 road.

We only went on the main road for a few hundred yards but annoyingly, this was the bumpiest road surface of the day so if you are cycling on this part of the A7, please be careful and don’t go too fast in case you come a cropper… We soon turned off the main road and went under the under-pass to the other side of the Borders Railway line into the village of Heriot. After that we basically followed the railway line southwards on the Old Stage Road. This is a lovely, quiet single track road which has lots of up and downhill sections and lots of good views too (and lots of foraging opportunities!). After a few miles we reached the turning on the right for Pirntaton farm and the road started to go uphill. Dad had told me there would be some unbelievably good conker trees next to the farm – and he was right, I’ve never seen so may conkers before. We filled up our rucksack with as many as we could fit before carrying on up the narrow road as it became steeper and steeper the further into the hills we went. Eventually, at a height of about 350m, the road ran out, and we had a brilliant view of the Moorfoot Hills as we crossed a cattle grid onto the track which would lead us right over the hills to the other side…

This section was a lot of fun with loads of fast downhills but some incredibly steep uphills too. The views of the hills were amazing and we saw loads of wildlife – millions of grouse and pheasants, a heron, hares and buzzards. The track is a very good surface for most of the way – a bit like the kind of hard packed gravelly surface you find on some cycle paths –  and it only became too difficult to cycle on the very steepest parts where the surface was quite loose (I wouldn’t try this route on a road bike by the way…). Amazingly, we only had to push for a couple of very short sections. We had to cycle through 5 fords along the way (this is where the stream flows over the path). This was quite hard the first time but Dad told me to use a low gear and pedal as fast as possible otherwise I would get stuck – and he was right again and it wasn’t too bad at all actually. I only got my feet wet a couple of times! After a while we eventually managed to struggle our way at 2mph in gear 1 up to the highest point of the hill at around 525m. Here there is a small area of trees called George Wood where we stopped to forage for wild blueberries (very tasty). From there, the view was amazing and we could even see the Eildon Hills at Melrose far away in the distance. We also got a good view of the path we’d cycled up and could see exactly how ridiculously steep it was… The ride down the other side of the hill is basically all downhill (obviously) and is great fun. However, the first part is VERY steep so you have to be extremely careful not to go too fast or skid off the path into the heather… Soon enough, the slope becomes more gentle and we had an easy, fast decent (through the fords) the rest of the way to Ladyside Farm where we joined onto the B709.

The last part of the route follows the B7007 back to Gorebridge via Middleton and Fushiebridge. See the route Gorebridge to Dewar for more details about this section. Just before the high point in the road, we stopped at the entrance to the track to Blackhope  Farm and from there we got a good view back down the valley to the Hill that we’d cycled over the top of. It was quite a amazing to think we’d managed to do it. In total (according to Google Maps anyway) we’d cycled up nearly 3000 feet of accent over the whole afternoon which is almost as much as cycling to the top of a Ben Nevis (so Dad said anyway)! So when we got back to Gorebridge, we decided we deserved to stop at the Gorefry takeaway for a seafood pizza before heading home. It was a really amazing journey through the mountains and one I’ll certainly be going on again.

Grand Tour of Midlothian

Route Out – Gorebridge to Gore Glen to Rosewell to Polton to Loanhead to Bilston Glen to Roslin. For route map click here.

Route Back – Roslin to Roslin Glen to Mount Lothian to Gladhouse Reservoir to Temple to Gorebridge. For route map click here.

  • Weather – sunny at first but light rain and windier later on.
  • Distance travelled – 29.4 miles
  • Riding time – 2 hours 58 minutes
  • Maximum speed – 27.0 mph
  • Average speed – 9.8 mph

On Saturday morning, Dad and I decided we would go for a grand tour of Midlothian and try to cycle to lots of places we hadn’t been to on our bikes before. We left Gorebridge via Engine Road which is possibly the bumpiest road in the word. This road takes you downhill to the A7 road where we turned right, and after about a hundred yards on the main road, we turned left onto the single track road that took us down into Gore Glen. The ride back up out of the glen is really steep and slow but it soon levels out and after a mile or so we turned right onto another even narrower, bumpy road which quickly led us to National Cycle Route no.1. Here we turned right, heading in the direction of Bonnyrigg but after half a mile we turned left onto the back road to Rosewell. This road was blocked by tree branches but there was just enough room for our bikes to squeeze past. We stopped for a quick drink and Dad spotted a mole that appeared to be lying on its back sunbathing with its mouth wide open…

We left the mole to rest in peace and sped away along the quiet road for a couple of miles until we reached the A6094. Here we turned right and then after a few hundred yards, turned right again into the village of Rosewell. We didn’t stop here but did see some houses with amazingly tall chimneys as we cycled through. Leaving Rosewell behind, we joined the cycle path of Route 196 for about 5 yards before crossing straight over the A6094 again onto the road to Polton. This road was little bit busier but it was nice and wide and had a good surface. When we reached the houses of Polton we took a turning to the left (the signpost said Springfield Mill) and at the top of the housing estate, we got a nice view over to Loanhead on the other side of the glen below us. Here the road becomes narrower and goes steeply downhill for a bit. It has quite a few corners so it’s not possible to go too fast but soon we found Springfield Mill at the bottom of the glen where there looks like there might be some nice walks in the woods. After a quick stop, we began the really steep climb up the other side of the glen to Loanhead. It reminded me of the steep hill at Crichton that we’ve cycled up loads of times before, the only difference being that it seemed even steeper and seemed to to on for much longer. Eventually, we reached the top without stopping even once, and entered Loanhead. We stopped for a well deserved packet of crisps (Dad) and raw carrot (me).

In Loanhead we joined onto the Loanhead Railway Path which is part of Cycle Route no.61. This is a lovely, scenic ride through Bilston Glen on a really good surface. It also has the most wild raspberries I’ve ever seen growing along both sides for the entire 2 miles to Roslin (we stopped to fill our faces of course…). At Roslin we decided to take a slight detour and followed a stream of tourists to Rosslyn Chapel where we stopped for a quick photo before heading back through the village and onto the B7003 road through Roslin Glen. This road goes steeply downhill and at one point there’s an increadibly tight bend where you have to go really slow to avoid crashing. This would be a really nice road to cycle on if it wasn’t so busy with traffic. Soon we turned off onto the quieter road signposted for Rosslynlee which was yet another very steep climb. We did get some good views of the Pentland Hills though. At the top we stopped to say hello to some cows and had a quick oatcake to give us some energy.

After our snack we cycled back down to the exact same spot on the A6094 which we’d come to earlier in the day just before Rosewell. This time we turned in the opposite direction along the main road. Today was the first time we’d cycled on this road and, although we only went on it for a couple of miles, it wasn’t very much fun as it was quite busy with cars overtaking us. We were quite glad to turn off at Rosslynlee Trout Fishery onto the quiet road to Mount Lothian. Here I spied some brilliant raspberries so we stopped to fill up again… At Mount Lothian we almost ended up joining a cycle race but the hundreds of cyclists we saw were speeding past us in the opposite direction. Soon we had the road to ourselves again and as we turned off onto the road to Gladhouse Reservoir, we started to feel the first spots of rain coming down. We stopped to put our jackets on and decided we’d try to get home as quickly as we could before we got completely soaked. The road alongside the reservoir (as well as the 4 or 5 miles from there to Temple) is one of my favourites: it’s a lovely smooth surface, it’s very quiet, has some great views of the mountains and most importantly, there’s tasty wild raspberries growing everywhere! Needless to say, our plan to get home a fast as possible was delayed by several foraging stops…

We sped downhill over the speed bumps in Temple at exactly the 20mph speed limit and then headed back to Gorebridge along the B6372 as fast as we could, arriving home just in time, as the rain really started to pour down. It was an interesting and varied route and despite lots of steep climbs, was a very enjoyable grand tour of Midlothian.