Three days into our adventure and cycle touring is starting to feel more real, though as we cycle through the Scottish borders the idea of being on a world tour seems a little weird. When we stop and chat to people en route and they ask us where we are headed the furthest we have said is Dover, more common is that evenings port of call.
We have deliberately started our trip with short days to build up our fitness and recover from two months of continuous preparations. We are particularly slow on the hills at the moment and have walked up two or three. I think we can be forgiven for one hill yesterday up out of Pease Bay because it was up an ‘arrow’.
Our first day ride out to Milnathort was reasonably uneventful, just adjusting to riding with front panniers in addition to the rear ones and successfully dodging rain showers by sheltering in Bridge of Earn’s flower pagoda and then cycling up the strip of blue sky between showers.
Gusty, strong winds do not make for easy, relaxing cycling and on Tuesday we had a few scary moments as we were pushed to and fro across the roads in Kinross-shire and Fife. We risked damage to our wheels on the kerbs and to ourselves under passing traffic. Crossing the Forth Road Bridge we resorted to pushing our bikes to increase traction and reduce sideways movement.
Life improved on a delightful cycle path through the Dalmeny estate and into Murrayfield along an old railway track. Edinburgh is making good progress with a network of cycle routes across the city following quiet roads, canals, specially built paths and railway tracks. They have even put in a few cycle pelican crossings on some main roads. All a lot easier to cycle on than the traffic laden three to four lane streets.
We left Edinburgh on the Innocent Railway cycle path on Wednesday. This railway was built to transport coal from Dalkeith into Edinburgh in the 1830s. We picked it up by the Commie Pool, where cyclists enjoy a gentle down hill slope through a long, lit tunnel, and followed it as far as Newhallcraigs.
There we swapped onto national cycle route 76 which we rode along for the rest of the day. Well signposted, we were able to take a break from map reading and enjoy the views of the industrial, farming and fishing landscape of East Lothian.
In Dunbar, we thought it only right to visit the birthplace of John Muir, a major contributor to nature and landscape conservation, as we hope to go to Yosemite National Park in the US which he fought hard to conserve.
Now on a day’s rest and recuperation in the Scottish borders before heading south into England.