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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Bathgate to Glasgow (via the Falkirk Wheel)

Route out – Bathgate to Linlithgow to Falkirk Wheel to Kirkintilloch to Bishopbriggs to Glasgow. For route map click here.

Route back – Glasgow to Uddingston to Coatbridge to Airdie to Plains to Caldercruix to Blackridge to Bathgate. For route map click here.

See route on Strava.

  • Weather – dull at first then much brighter but with 1 horrible heavy shower around midday. Mainly sunny and warm later in the afternoon.
  • Bike type – road bike
  • Distance travelled – 80.62 miles
  • Riding time – 6 hours 42 minutes
  • Maximum speed – 32.6 mph
  • Average speed – 11.9 mph
  • Height climbed – 1958 feet

It seems like Dad and I have cycled everywhere in the south of Scotland. But last Saturday I woke up and suddenly realised that we’ve never been to the largest city in Scotland – Glagow. So I decided at 6:30am that morning that that was where we’d be cycling to that day. Unfortunately, to get to Glasgow and back from Gorebridge in a day would be basically impossible so we loaded up the car and travelled to the West Lothian town of Bathgate and by about 9:15am we were on our bikes…

We left the car on Kirkton Avenue in Bathgate and started by cycling straight up a really steep and long hill (14% gradient according to the sign) heading north for Linlithgow. It didn’t actually seem that hard a climb and soon we were out into the countryside going up and down (mostly up) for a while until we reached the top of the narrow road near Cairnpapple Hill where, despite the grey and overcast sky, we got a fine view across to the 3 bridges crossing the Firth of Forth away in the distance. From there, it was mainly downhill all the way for the few miles to Linlithgow on a relatively busy “C” class road which passes by Beecraigs Country Park on the way. The is road has a lovely smooth surface but has lots of very sharp bends on the steepest downhill sections so be careful…

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Not far into the town of Linlithgow, we turned left off the main road onto the Union Canal, cycle route 754. We’ve cycled on the canal before from Edinburgh to Linlithgow but had never gone further until today. The surface of the path was much better than I remembered, fairly smooth and with a hard-packed covering of fine stone chips, so it was perfectly OK for the road bikes. The gradient is totally flat so you have to keep pedaling pretty much constantly so it is a bit of a slog at times. You have to pass beneath many bridges and the turns here are very tight and bumpy so you have to slow to a crawl at times. You’ll also find that the path is used by millions of dog walkers (we even passed someone skiing on rollerblades!) so you have to pay attention and slow down a lot – we didn’t notice much in the way of dog dirt on the path though amazingly! Don’t expect many good views from the path either because you are always low down. The exception to this is when you cross the Avon Aqueduct (you have to push along here in case you fall in…) which gives you a stunning view down into the Avon Gorge.

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Before too long, we had reached the Falkirk Tunnel. I normally like tunnels but this one was very dark, bumpy and wet, with water leaking down from above in many places. It was too dangerous to cycle through it so we pushed our bikes for what seemed like about a mile in the darkness. It wasn’t much fun and really ruined our average speed. Thankfully, we made it safely to the other side and were greeted by a much more pleasant sight – the Falkirk Wheel. It is a rather clever mechanical contraption which joins onto the end of the Union Canal and lowers a barge down into the Forth and Clyde Canal about 50m below and at the same time raises a barge up into the Union Canal. We stopped here for an early lunch of boiled eggs, Parma Ham, cheese and oatcakes whilst we watched the barges move slowly from one canal to the other. Luckily, we didn’t require the assistance of the Falkirk Wheel to reach the Forth and Clyde Canal – we just freewheeled down the hill and turned left onto our second canal path of the day.

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Compared to the Union Canal, the Forth and Clyde Canal seemed much more “open” and you get much better views all along the way, especially of the Hills on the right hand side. The path surface is similarly decent, though perhaps a bit more gravelly in places. We saw fewer pedestrians and dogs on this path but many more cyclists, most heading the opposite way than us. Perhaps they were escaping Glasgow…? Interestingly, unlike the Union Canal, you don’t pass under many bridges on this canal, you tend to have to cycle up the slope until you meet the road and then cross over and down to the canal path again. This was quite annoying as there never seemed to be any pedestrian crossings and most of the roads were busy and hard to get across. On the plus side, there were loads of brambles growing along the canal-side so we managed to stop and fill our faces a couple of times. By about 1:30pm Dad spotted some high-rise flats on the other side of the water so he said we must be nearly there. Sure enough, it wasn’t long before we came upon a signpost pointing to Firhill Stadium 1 mile away. This is Partick Thistle’s football stadium and funnily enough Dad’s favourite team Aberdeen (OK, I quite like them too) was playing there today with a 3pm kick off. We could have stopped for a few hours to watch the game but we’d never have had enough time to cycle back to Bathgate in daylight so we cycled on. Luckily, the path took us right around the edge of the stadium and we were able to sneak a photo of the Aberdeen FC team bus. We also made note of the fact that because Firhill only has 3 stands, you get a great view of around 90% of the pitch if you are standing on the cycle path. That bit of knowledge will save you £25 next time your team are playing Partick Thistle…

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From Firhill it was a short ride along the riverside path, down a steep hill, under the M8 motorway and then right into Glasgow city centre at Cowcaddens. We thought it would be sensible to push our bikes along the pavement in the city centre but as it turned out, pushing along the crowded pedestrianised Sauchiehall Street was the worst (and slowest) thing in the world. So we decided it would be best to brave the bus lanes and one way streets, cycling around George Square and then south towards the River Clyde. It was actually easy enough, and relatively safe, and soon we were on the pavement again, heading east along the river side path of Cycle Route no.75.

Route 75 starts off as a lovely path (watch out for dogs and children though) which follows the River Clyde for quite a long way, passing Glasgow Green and at one point giving us a glimpse of another football stadium, Celtic Park. Although the path has a mainly good surface, there are places where tree roots are growing close to the surface and this makes lots of mini speed bumps which are annoying (for Dad) or fun (for me) to cycle over. Near the outskirts of Glasgow we found a ginormous patch of brambles so stopped for quite a while to fill up. The outskirts of Glasgow basically never end as the city joins on to the fairly grim-looking towns of North Lanarkshire and around these parts there was a lot of broken glass on the path to try and avoid. At one point between Uddingston and Coatbridge, the cycle route directs you to go along a very narrow, muddy path that’s overgrown with nettles – not fun at all, especially on road bikes.

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There’s also quite a number of sections where cycle route no.75 makes you go on the pavement alongside some busy main roads – this does not make for a fun cycling experience. You keep having to stop and start again, cross over roads at junctions and traffic lights so it’s hard to go a decent speed. We would have been better just going on the road and braving the traffic. It also seems to take a rather long and winding route. I reckon there must be a more direct and/or pleasant route that takes you through the country roads instead of the town so I will need to check the map later. Anyway, when we reached Airdrie, the route took us right past our 3rd football stadium of the day, the Excelsior Stadium, home of Airdie FC, so that was quite nice. After Airdrie we came to another rather grim place called Plains, where again route no.75 suggest cycling on the pavement alongside the main A89 road. At one point, we had no choice but to divert onto the road as a McGills bus had crashed into car at a junction and was blocking the way. We found the road to be much nicer to cycle on so we stayed on it for a short distance until the cycle route sign pointed to the left and we left the grim towns behind…

The 12 mile section of cycle route 75 from just outside Plains all the way to Bathgate is one of the nicest cycling paths ever. If you ignore the brief visits to Caldercruix and Blackridge, this section is almost all on a very quiet path with an amazingly smooth surface which makes you speed along nicely, especially on the long, slightly downhill sections. The views of the countryside are remarkably good too, including the beautiful Hillend Loch which the path skirts right around the edge of. You also get some very close up views of a wind farm which Dad and I both liked. The path follows the same route as the railway line as well, so we were lucky enough to spot about 10 trains before we made it back to Bathgate…

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By the time we reached Bathgate it was about 6:30pm and we were both starving. Luckily, even though he doesn’t know the town at all, Dad has a strange homing instinct and somehow managed to direct us straight to a Dominoes Pizza. So we stopped there for tea, eating outside in the sun before cycling back to the car. It was our longest cycle route so far, our first ride over 80 miles, but it didn’t actually seem that hard as there were very few hills to climb all day. Both of us commented that we felt we could have gone for another 20 miles! Apart from cycling through the grim towns of North Lanarkshire for an hour or 2, we’d had a really great day.

Oh, and in case you are wondering, Aberdeen won 4-3 to go top of the league so Dad was happy…

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!

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 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…