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.

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  • 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.

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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!

Gorebridge to North Berwick

Route out – Gorebridge to Crichton to Humbie to Longnewton to Garvald to East Linton to North Berwick. For route map click here.

Route back – 2 Scotrail trains (North Berwick to Edinburgh then Edinburgh to Gorebridge).

  • Weather – dry and mainly sunny, quite warm but rather windy.
  • Bike type – road bike
  • Distance travelled – 47.3 miles
  • Riding time – 3 hours 36 minutes
  • Maximum speed – 72.5 mph (not sure how that happened as it was a more believable 31.8 mph just before North Berwick…)
  • Average speed – 13.1 mph
  • Height climbed – 2064 feet

A few weeks ago we went on the train for a day out in North Berwick on the East Lothian coast. That day we climbed the Law Hill, went crab catching at the beach and had an ice cream. On the way home, the train conductor didn’t bother to check our tickets. Dad noticed that the return tickets were valid until the end of the month so we decided there was nothing to stop us using them a second time. Of course we’d need to find some way to get to North Berwick first…

So last Sunday, Dad and I left the house at around 8:30am on our new road bikes (so much faster than my old mountain bike!) with our train tickets in our pockets and headed for North Berwick again. We began by cycling along some of my favourite quiet Midlothian back roads, including the steep hill near Crichton. The roads are mostly very good smooth surfaces around here and there’s lots of nice scenery and wildlife to see. At one point a blackbird decided to fly right through the frame of Dad’s bike when he was travelling at over 20 mph! We stopped at a ford in the road at the border with East Lothian for our first snack of the day (banana for me and apple for Dad). This was about 9 miles in to the ride and we’d still seen no traffic at all.

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Soon after, we were on the B6371 heading for Humbie when a car finally drove past. I spotted some wild raspberries so we stopped to stuff our faces as another car and a whole load of cyclists sped by. At the junction in Humbie we turned left onto the B6368, crossing a river and up a very steep hill until the Lammermuir Hills appeared in the distance on the right hand side. This a great cycling road as it has a nice surface and lots of straight bits and interesting humps and hollows but we didn’t stay on it for long today as we turned onto a narrow road on the right, heading towards the hills. East Lothian has lots of amazing ancient road signs dotted around the countryside (with distances give to the nearest 1/8 of a mile!), and it was at one of these that Dad made a wrong turning and we ended up back at the B6368 by mistake. Rather than go back, we turned right onto this road again and then took the next proper road on the right to head uphill and into the middle of nowhere once again. At the top of the hill we got a great view of the Lammermuirs on one side and Traprain Law and North Berwick Law miles away in the distance.

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The next while was spent in some very remote parts of the region, going up and down a lot, skirting along the edge of the hills. When you think of East Lothian you think of the coast and beaches and golf courses and tourists and this area really felt a million miles removed from that. It was fantastic cycling territory though and we saw loads of road cyclists when we were there and basically no cars. At one point Dad also saw a ferret scuttling across the road in front of us but I missed it… The only real village we passed through was Garvald and after that we had to climb a mammoth hill at Papple before we finally started to get some good views over to the East Lothian coast with the impressive Traprain Law not far away now. We took a rather round-about route which took us up quite high and then down a long fast hill before going right round to the other side of the Law, where we joined up with Cycle Route 76. This took us onto a tiny road past the ruined Hailes Castle where we stopped for lunch of oatcakes with crab and cheese. Tasty. Note that this road may be very narrow but does have a fair amount of cars using it to get to the castle so be careful. After that, it was mostly downhill to the picturesque village of East Linton where we stopped in to say hello to my cousins Ella and Angus. Oh, and to eat their biscuits and use their toilet too…

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In East Linton, dad spotted an incredibly stupid signpost which pointed to North Berwick in two completely different directions. We chose left and headed uphill on the B1377 for a short distance before turning left onto the first road we came to. This quiet road gave nice views to the west and after a couple of miles of pleasant cycling, we came to the junction with the B1347 which took us past the Museum of Flight. Immediately we noticed that this road was very very busy. It might have been because it was a sunday and the weather was nice but it wasn’t much fun to cycle on. It’s also mainly uphill and there’s a lot of bad corners on it (some right angled bends too) which make it hard for cars to overtake safely. We witnessed some rather dangerous overtaking today by an idiot in a BMW. Thankfully the driver failed to kill himself or anybody else… If we ever come this way again, we’ll certainly try and find a quieter road from East Linton to North Berwick. Eventually, we got to the top of the long, gradual hill and got some stunning views of North Berwick Law with the Bass Rock in the distance.

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Dad actually spent too long taking photos that we got to the train station 1 minute after the train had left! That left us with¬† an hour to kill before the next train so we cycled down the hill into the town centre and bought come ice creams… The train journey back to Edinburgh was rather interesting as there were only 2 bike spaces but at least 12 bikes managed to cram their way into the carriages. Luckily the ticket conductor didn’t seem to be too bothered and everyone made it back to Edinburgh OK. We’d made it this far without having our tickets checked again so we were already planning an alternative route to North Berwick to re-use the tickets once more. Most annoyingly though, on the train back to Gorebridge, this conductor actually bothered to check our tickets, so those plans have had to be postponed – for now.

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.

Gorebridge to Rosewell Circular Route

Route out – Gorebridge to Newtongrange to Bonnyrigg to Rosewell. For route map click here.

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

  • Weather – cool and cloudy but mainly dry and not much wind.
  • Distance travelled – 12.54 miles
  • Riding time – 1 hour 11 minutes
  • Maximum speed – 31.2 mph
  • Average speed – 10.5 mph

Regular readers of this blog will know that I really love anything to do with railways and especially viaducts. Strangely though, there is one very impressive viaduct only a few miles from our house that I hadn’t cycled past before – the Lothianbridge viaduct near Newtongrange. A week ago on Sunday, Dad and I decided to go for a short local cycle run and finally found ourselves cycling underneath one of the finest features of the Borders Railway line.

As usually, we started off from the house in Gorebridge but for a change, headed down hill along Greenhall Road to Stobhill. We then turned off on to the back road to Mayfield (also known as Crawlees Road). During the week this is very busy road used by lots of lorries and vans travelling to and from the industrial estate. It also has lots of really bad corners so isn’t ideal for cycling. However, on a sunday morning it’s basically perfectly fine and it even boasts a lovely smooth surface and brilliant views over to the Pentland Hills and Edinburgh. After passing through the industrial estate we turned left and sped downhill along the B6482 (Bryans Road) into Newtongrange. There’s a speed sensor halfway down the hill and it flashed up that Dad and I were both breaking the 30 mph speed limit! We then maneuvered our way across 2 very odd joined up mini-roundabouts and sped down another short hill to the traffic lights at the junction with the main A7 road – where we got our first view of the amazing viaduct. Luckily the lights changed to red just as we got there so we had time to take a sneaky photograph.

The lights soon changed to green and we cycled as fast as possible on the main road along the side of the viaduct for roughly 300 yards before turning left onto a minor road signposted for Carrington. This very quiet road took us right underneath one of the great giant arches of the viaduct and after about half a mile, we came to a crossroads. We turned right, passing Cockpen and Carrington Parish Church before reaching the town of Bonnyrigg. There, we turned off the road and onto the Dalkeith to Penicuick Railway Path (cycle route no.196). The cycle path is lovely and smooth and straight and even though it’s slightly uphill in this direction, we had soon cycled the 2 miles to the village of Rosewell. Just make sure you keep an eye out for dog poo on the path…

We left the path at Rosewell and cycled along the main road through the village for a short distance before turning off to the left and into the park. After stopping at a bench for a quick apple and drink, we carried on, skirting along the edge of a field and then onto a slightly bumpy farm road. The bumpy road took us close to Whitehill House golf course, past lots of holiday cottages and then through Thornton Farm, where we saw lots of horses. There were also some unusual but nice views of the Pentland Hills from here. After the farm we turned left onto some familiar back roads which took us the remaining 2 miles or so to Carrington. The first section of road was rather bumpy in places but after turning right at the crossroads, you find yourself speeding along on the flattest, smoothest road in the world with fields and trees on either side. It’s also almost completely traffic free. After a while the flatness quickly becomes a steep downhill section and we both zoomed into Carrington at around 30 mph. Carrington is a peaceful place and we stopped there for another quick snack. I counted only 1 car and 8 cyclists passing through in the 10 minutes we were there.

The last section of the route took us along a very narrow back road to Gore Glen. It’s nearly all downhill and very fast (just be careful though as some of the fastest parts of this road are rather bumpy and it would be quite easy to crash…). The climb up from Gore Glen to Povert Road was really the only steep uphill section of the day but at least it was quite a short one. After that it was a few hundred yards along the A7 again and then a left turn into Gorebridge via easily the bumpiest “proper” road in the world – Engine Road. It’s a rutted mess of potholes, ravines and loose stones and is about 50 years overdue some resurfacing work. Anyway, we were back home in time for our lunch of Mushroom soup and oatcakes.

This was a nice easy route with very few hills but lots of long downhill sections and although it was short, it was most enjoyable. This sunday, we went on a much longer and more adventurous route so stay tuned for that one…

The Lothians Loop

Route out – Gorebridge to Carrington to Roslin Glen to Auchendinny to Flotterstone to Balerno to Kirknewton to East Calder to Broxburn to Winchburgh to Abercorn. For route map click here.

Route back – Abercorn to Queensferry to Dalmeny to Edinburgh (Barnton to Haymarket to City Centre to Leith to Portobello) to Musselburgh to Whitecraig to Dalkeith to Newbattle to Newtongrange to Gorebridge. For route map click here then here. Note that Google maps doesn’t show the correct route through Newbattle. When you reach a bridge over the River South Esk, turn off the main path and follow the path marked “Lord Ancrum’s Wood” on the South-East side of the river until you reach the B703.

  • Weather – mostly sunny, quite windy and reasonably warm (but freezing cold along the east coast from Portobello to Musselburgh).
  • Distance travelled – 66.6 miles
  • Riding time – 6 hours 42 minutes
  • Maximum speed – 35.6 mph
  • Average speed – 9.9 mph
  • Height climbed – 3300 feet

When cycling through the Scottish Borders, Dad and I often end up following the “Borders Loop” cycle route signs so I decided to investigate whether there was a such a thing as a “Lothians Loop” cycle route. It appears that there isn’t, so I made up my own one. It’s one of our longest and most adventurous routes so far, visiting the Mid, West and East Lothian, as well as Edinburgh City. Hope you like it…

After leaving Gorebridge at 7:30am, we were soon heading down the deserted minor road through Gore Glen to the village of Carrington. The low sun was just starting to emerge from the clouds and Dad thought it made some of the trees look really nice so he kept stopping to take photos. I suppose he was right enough. From Carrington, we took the road signposted for Rosewell. The first half mile is one of the best cycling roads ever as it is very smooth and fast. Then, after turning left at a crossroads, the surface becomes rather more bumpy and worn out. Soon we reached another crossroads and headed straight across the A6094 and onto a quiet back road with views of the Pentlands hills in the distance. After a mile or so, we came to a signpost pointing to Roslin Glen so we went that way, downhill on a farm track for a wee bit and then, as the track turned sharply left, we turned right and headed down some steps (scaredy cat Dad pushed his bike but I cycled) into the picturesque Roslin Glen. There, we followed the Dalkeith to Penicuik railway walk for a pleasant mile or so of deer-spotting, cycling along the good path through the woods until we arrived at the village of Auchendinny.

At Auchedinny, we left the track and turned right onto the road. We immediately came to some traffic lights but they refused to change to green for us so we had to press the button on the pedestrian crossing and then cheekily cycle through the green man to get onto Graham Road which heads uphill past the Glencorse army barracks on the outskirts of Penicuik. Soon we cam to another set of lights but these ones did change to green so we headed straight over the A701 and headed uphill again along Bellwood Road, through some houses and then some trees until the junction with the A702. This is normally a busy road that we avoid but we were there nice and early and there were basically no cars around so we turned right onto the main road and speeded down the hill at 30 mph for a few hundred yards before turning off at the Flotterstone Inn and the entrance to the Pentland Hills.

The Pentland Hills are a lovely place to visit but they do tend to get rather busy. However, at 8:30am, it was still relatively quiet and very pleasant to cycle along the minor road, past the Glencorse Reservoir with hills on all sides. Further along the road, deep amongst the hills, we came to Loganlee Reservoir where we stopped for a snack. We saw quite a few other cyclists and people out running as we sat in the sun munching away on our carrot sticks and celery. After a while the road ended and at a signpost, we turned right and headed for Balerno. The path varied from short, bumpy grass to horrible, loose and large stones, to nice smooth dirt so it was hard going at times, though it did seem to be mostly downhill so we still enjoyed it. The views were very nice all the way. At one point, we had to cross a stream and we both ended up with wet feet but they soon dried off. After a while, we said goodbye to Midlothian and said hello to what is technically Edinburgh City. It didn’t look much like a city to me though as we emerged from the hills into a field of sheep and a gate with a sign warning cyclists not to go too fast on the road ahead. The road turned out to be incredibly straight, lined with trees and steeply downhill so we ignored the warning and freewheeled as fast as possible down the hill. It was great fun! In fact, we almost didn’t need to pedal at all for the 2 miles from there to Balerno, which appears to be a nice little town by the way.

After a quick bag of crisps, we left Balerno behind and followed Cycle Route no.75 out of the town, down another really steep hill (this road is a bit bumpy so be careful not to crash). It was then a few more miles through quiet, narrow country roads along Route 75 until we reached Kirknewton, just over the border into West Lothian. It’s quite a steep climb on the way into the village but the way out down the other side is great fun and very fast and you get to cycle over a level crossing, which I really liked. Didn’t see any trains though. We stayed on Route 75 for another mile or so, crossing over the main A71 road at the traffic lights and then heading down a bumpy track into East Calder. There we followed the nice path through the beautiful Almondell Country Park, dodging in between the dog walkers and little children, over a bridge across the River Almond and up a steep hill before rejoining a quiet minor road. This road took us underneath the railway line (where we did see a train) and underneath the M8 motorway, before taking us to the town of Broxburn.

At Broxburn, we spotted a Greggs so we made an unplanned early lunch stop (it was only 10:50am). Sausage, bean and cheese melt plus soup for me, sausage roll and soup for Dad. Very tasty. After lunch we cycled along the B8020 which took us around the side of what I like to call “The Volcano” but Dad says it is actually a giant bing. It’s rather impressive to look at anyway. Soon enough we reached Winchburgh, where we turned left onto the B9080 road. After a mile or so we saw a signpost for Hopetoun House and turned right onto a very quiet tree-lined back road which took us through some nice countryside and underneath the M9 motorway until the junction with the busy A904 road. We could have taken this road directly to Queensferry but took the scenic long cut instead. We went straight over the main road and onto a lovely quiet road for a couple of fast, downhill miles to a tiny place called Abercorn. We missed a turning and ended up in a church yard by mistake but the church was nice and had an impressive bell tower. After retreating 20 yards, I spotted a Route no.76 marker on a gate so we followed that path, down some steep bends into the woods. The track was a bit bumpy for a while but then became a narrow but proper road again as we cycled right past the biggest house I’ve ever seen – Hopetoun House. I bet the whole population of Gorebridge could live inside it… We the followed the quiet road alongside the Firth of Forth, under the new and old Forth bridges and into Queensferry.

I wanted to cycle over the Forth Bridge but Dad thought it was too windy today so we simply carried on past Dalmeny train station (where we saw another train) and then onto Cycle Route no.1, speeding down the hill to Crammond on the outskirts of Edinburgh. After stopping at another bridge over the River Almond for a quick Yorkie bar and boiled egg, we followed route no.1 mainly off road to Haymarket (where we saw a tram and a train) and then through some quietish residential streets until we got to the centre of town. George Street was fairly busy today but there’s a cycle lane to keep us safe. When we got to St Andrews Square, we joined Cycle Route no.75 which took us steeply down Dublin Street and eventually onto a cycle path which went right past one of my favourite places in Edinburgh – The Yard adventure centre. We followed the path for a couple more miles until we reached Leith. Then we followed a signposted cycle route (again mainly off road) for a few miles to Portobello. The weather had been brilliant all day up till then but it was really cold and windy at Portobello beach, so we quickly took a detour away from the coast and went along the busy high street instead. It wasn’t much warmer though and the 2 miles or so cycling along this road to Musselburgh in East Lothian were horrible – right into the strong wind and very cold. Thankfully, Musselburgh has a great ice cream shop called Luca’s so we joined the long queue and eventually got to fill our faces (I had Kit Kat ice cream which was rather good).

My original plan was to head a bit further into East Lothian but by this time I was starting to feel tired so decided I’d rather head the quickest way home instead. So we cycled through Inveresk and Whitecraig (via the interestingly named place called Cowpits) and then joined the cycle path of route no.1 once more for a short time. We then took a detour off the path and headed up past another “volcano” and onto the B6414, where we turned right to re-enter Midlothian and then zoomed down the hill at over the 30 mph speed limit into Dalkeith. We rejoined route no.1 again for another short section through Woodburn and then onto a cycle path as far as Newbattle Golf Course. Then, just next to the humped bridge, we cycled through a gap in the wall and into Lord Ancrum’s Wood. It’s not very long but this is an amazing path with lots of short ups and downs which follows the River South Esk past Newbattle Abbey. It’s a nice hard packed surface which is easy to cycle on. Lots of interesting and ancient trees to see and more wild garlic than even I could eat! There’s one really steep bit near the end that goes down some steps (I cycled down it but as usual, Dad had to push…). We then headed left onto the B703 for half a mile before heading onto the quieter road called The Beaches, uphill into Newtongrange. Then it was simply 2 miles of gradual uphill cycling to get home, first along the Bryans path and then up Stobhill Road into Gorebridge. We arrived home just in time for tea.

It had been a very long but enjoyable day – in fact, that was the longest cycle run I’ve ever done at over 66 miles – but we did manage to complete our Lothian Loop. It’s probably one of the most varied routes we’ve ever done with all sorts of different road surfaces and paths and travelling through such a huge variety of countryside and urban areas. Definitely one to repeat sometime.