Thursday, 24 April 2014


At Easter people gather and roll their brightly painted eggs down slopes. For me, Easter weekend this year was about rolling my tires along two of my favourite bike routes.

We've had very high winds for weeks on end, well into the mid 20mph, gusting much higher, and cold grey skies. So when I awoke to bright blue skies and zero wind at the weekend I knew it was bike ride weather.

Route one was fairly challenging, with seven hill climbs involved, to take me from my home out to the nearby Pentland Hills. I wrote of this run back in June last year, and you can read the details of it here. Fishermen were out in their little boats, with the blue azure of the sky perfectly reflected in the calm waters of the reservoirs. On this occasion, despite it being horizon to horizon blue sky, it was still quite chilly, and when, after 16 miles, I stopped for lunch just beyond Loganlea Reservoir, I was glad I'd brought an extra layer. Lunch was a box of green salad, all part of my weight loss drive for the next few weeks.

Another 10 miles further on, I detoured from my usual route and left the Water of Leith to join the Union Canal into the centre of Edinburgh, where I met a friend for coffee. A skinny latte, of course.

Another six miles later and I was home once again.

The following day was another equally sunny day, with slightly higher winds and thus lower temperatures. Today's run was a 34 mile round trip to my old high school town of Penicuik. I've also written of this route before, here, but not since October 2012.

The first leg of this journey took me east to Musselburgh, then I turned south to follow the River Esk for a short distance, but I would join one of it's tributaries again some 15 miles or so further up the trail. Just beyond this river side trail is the tiny village of Danderhall, and the starting point of what I fondly call a "rails to trails" route that would take me out to Penicuik. If you do the math of the mileage it shows on this sign in the photo, it looks like my route was 22 miles there and 22 miles back. In actual fact it worked out at 17 each way. Go figure.

The next town was the sprawling settlement of Dalkeith, and just a little way into the town, at the start of another rails to trails section, was a delightful water tower, clearly converted now into someone's home. But turns out there's more to it. Built in 1879, it was converted into a private dwelling in 1987. I've since discovered that a chef called Gerry Goldwyre, has converted it into a "private dining experience". You hire him and the place for 12 people at a cost of £600 and you get his culinary experience.

As I said earlier, it had been a year and a half since I'd last cycled this trail. During that time a new railway had started being constructed, linking Edinburgh to the Borders town of Galashiels.  It is still under construction, and follows an original route that was closed down 50 years ago. The down side of this is the cycle route through the western side of the busy town of Dalkeith has gone, as it used the old rail line. Now I was forced through the centre of town and busy roundabouts until I was able to pick up the route again. I'm hoping they will improve this once the railway is completed. A letter is due I think.

Just an hour and a half after leaving home I arrived in Penicuik, with the route following alongside the North Esk river as it makes its way to Musselburgh. The last 10 miles since Dalkeith had been entirely on cycle trail, also an abandoned rail line, and was a complete joy. However, this route has one drawback; it's not circular, and I followed the same route back home again.

Just a mile from the end of my 34-mile run I detoured through the nearby National Trust of Scotland site of Newhailes. I knew from memory that in a large clearing there where masses of bluebells. They were starting to come out but by the look of them they needed another week yet to be at their best.

On the final day of Easter, before breakfast, I had a 3rd, much shorter run, up and over the nearby volcanic hill of Arthurs Seat, with it's commanding views over the City of Edinburgh.

Returning home it was time for an Easter treat of eggs. Not chocolate though, but soft boiled duck eggs on toast!.

No comments: