It's now just past one year exactly since I had to go through neurosurgery for a subdural haematoma, and though some would disagree, I'm back to being normal again. So much so that the past two to three months have seen me coming back up to the level of cycling I was at before.
On Sunday I was at a bit of a loose end, looking out of the window at a sunny day with calm winds. I had planned to do some work indoors but I couldn't waste this opportunity to get out on my bike, but where to go? Out came Google maps and I pondered the various options from my house. I decided on a trip east, to the town of Haddington and back, which is about 35 round trip, with a mixture of off-road cycle track along disused railroad tracks and quiet back roads.
I have cycled most of this route before with Pauline, but today I was on my own. I'm not known for my perfect navigation, and I had left without a map, relying on the cycle signposts being abundant.
Virtually all the way to Haddington, apart from the last few miles, it is all off-road. At times the surface deteriorated into mud, but nothing that stopped the bike moving. My favourite surface is a fine ground quarry dust, and when it's dry it's a great surface to barrel along on. The first part of my route follows the River Esk as it twists its way out of the town of Musselburgh, then onto Whitecraig to join cycle route 196. Within a short distance it becomes the Pencaitland Railway Walk, littered with information boards of a time long since passed, when railways played a bigger role for communities. One even told of how easy it had become, thanks to the railways, for emigrating families to travel to Edinburgh to start their sea journey to Australia.
After about five miles I passed the little village of Ormiston. On it's derelict railway platform the local community had created a "recycled garden". They grew all manner of what you would expect, except that the raised beds, sheds and fences were all made from recycled materials that would otherwise have ended up in landfill.
Each of the many people who had created a small plot, proudly displayed their name on a little sign.
Within just a couple of hours I reached the southern edge of Haddington and the River Tyne. So far I felt as if I had been accompanied by a Robin all the way, such was the unbroken melody of song I had heard. This was the end of Route 196 and the start of route 76 back to Edinburgh. Though it showed a distance of 22 miles I knew that was to the centre and my return journey would fall five miles short of this.
The first four miles was on a paved cycle route of exceptional quality, called the Haddington Longniddry Railway Walk. On this route the information boards were in the style of old railway signals, and they swung up for you to read information about the wildlife and so on, that you could expect to encounter. I thought it was a clever creation, as it not only was a tip-of-the-hat to the past, but it also protected the signs from the elements, thereby making them last longer.
Once at Longniddry it was very straight forward to get home, though back onto main roads, down to the edge of the Firth of Forth and along the coast back to Portobello.
And I never once got lost.