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

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

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

See route on Strava.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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…

Gore Glen Circular Loop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Gorebridge to Tweedbank (Volume 2)

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

Route back – Borders Railway (Tweedbank to Gorebridge).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gorebridge to Tweedbank (the long way)

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

Route back – Borders Railway (Tweedbank to Gorebridge).

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gorebridge to Fala Dam

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!