My friend Pauline has just returned from cycle touring in Iceland where she had some appalling weather. It's not often that Scotland has great weather either, but the past few months have been spectacular. In fact, I read a news report that on Tuesday it was as hot as Cairo!
Making the most of it, and escaping the crowds of sun worshippers on the beach near my home, Pauline and I set off for a cycle run into East Lothian. It wasn't long before we could leave the traffic behind and be on cycle paths, as the John Muir Way, which you'll know I completed a couple of weeks ago, is very close to my apartment. The path then turned inland, following the River Esk out to open countryside past fields of golden wheat ripening in the sun.
The tennis elbow that had been bothering me was making pulling on the handlebars painful, so our first climb up onto a ridge that overlooks the Firth of Forth, I had to complete with just one hand on the slow ascent. It was well worth it though, as the view from the top is stunning, especially on such a clear, sunny day.
Our first focal point was the 14th century Faside Castle, with it's perfect location on the highest point of the ridge. Interestingly this was the site of the last battle between Scotland and England as separate nations back in 1547. It was uninhabited in the 1700s but today is home to a young family and operates as a B&B.
From here we enjoyed a fantastic ridge run, though all too short, down to the next village of Tranent and then south east further into the countryside, heading for Haddington, a burgh dating back to the 1100s, and seat of the East Lothian administration. It was on the edge of the village that we picked up a "rail to trails" route called the Haddington to Longniddry Railway Walk. The name tells you our next destination, which was just four miles away.
The trail was really nice and all the way along at various intervals small signposts, in the style of old railway signals, had been placed. Each one had information about the flora and fauna of the spot they stood in. I was impressed with the effort that had been made for this small, local trail.
From the tiny village of Longniddry it was a short run down to the coast, past the estate of 18th century Gosford House. On the edge of a rocky shoreline, overlooking the Forth estuary, under a baking hot sun, we tucked in to our packed lunch, before picking our way back to Edinburgh along the coast, following the John Muir Way again, past the little harbours of Prestonpans, Cockenzie, and Musselburgh.
It may have been as hot as Cairo but this had been a cool little cycle adventure.