Together with my cycling friend Pauline, last weekend I ventured off on a wee cycle tour just an hours train ride from Edinburgh. We were heading for Loch Leven, a rough triangle-shaped body of fresh water, about 6km at it's longest length.
I've cycled here before but not all the way round. Not because it is a long ride, as it's only 13 miles in total, but because the path only went about two thirds of the way round. But all that changed in May of last year, when, after 10 years of planning, the route was completed and the Loch Leven Heritage Trail was officially opened.
It is a haven for wildlife, and the RSPB have a visitor centre called Vane Farm at the southern end of the loch, and as well as flocks of birds, it receives flocks of Twitchers all year round, eager to spot that rare visiting bird.
Just a short distance from our start point we passed under a brilliant little shelter atop a small hill, looking out over the loch. It is part of the project recently completed, made from natural materials, and the path passes under and through it.
At one time a railway ran by here until 1964, and on the new trail it has been marked by a mural burnt into a series of logs standing vertically out of the ground. I love this kind of urban art on trails and paths.
What I also love is coffee and cake, and just beyond half way is Loch Leven Larder where we stopped for a short break, basking under the now sunny blue skies. Just before we reached the Larder we passed by a graveyard, and on its western corner stood a two-storey, square stone building, a Keep. Luckily I had Pauline with me who is a mine of information, and was able to tell me that it was built to watch over the graveyard from would be grave robbers in times long ago.
Speaking of times long ago (do you see what I did there?), right opposite was a Keep of another kind. Out on an island called Castle Island, stands the ruins of, you guessed it, a castle. Apparently Mary Queens of Scots was imprisoned there in the mid 1500s, but then I find everywhere I go in Scotland Mary Queen of Scots either lived there, was imprisoned there or drank tea there! So who knows. Supposedly there is a key on the bed of the loch that was lost overboard when she was brought out by rowing boat. By now I'm guessing it's rusted away.
The character of the trail changes as you come round the north end and started heading south. After the coffee stop we were in native woodlands, and the path twisted and turned as it weaved in out of the tall standing birch trees.
We were very lucky with the weather, as so far June has been appalling. Starting out from the train station at Lochgelly four miles away, we were under heavy laden skies, but by the time we arrived back at our starting point it was sunny blue skies, though there was still a chill in the air. Until the middle of last century the loch played host to curling competitions on it's frozen surface, but thankfully it wasn't that cold this day.
Another cycle adventure coming up in a couple of weeks, which you can read about here of course. All this cycling is building up to something pretty special, and that is coming up here in July. You'll just need to check back then to find out all about an amazing new adventure.