Tuesday, 11 May 2010

On Scottish roads

Well, here I am in Edinburgh, having reached the city rather late yesterday (about 7:50). My late arrival was due to getting turned around a few times, spending too much time at some historic sights, the North wind, and the decision to follow the National Cycling Network route 1 into Edinburgh rather than try to navigate myself on busy roads. This last decision meant that the route was significantly longer as it was fairly circuitous. However, it was calmer and ended up going through a rather neat former railway tunnel emerging near Edinburgh University.

I found my B&B, had a bath and tried to phone my cousins in Edinburgh to make arrangements. Owing to my ignorance, I couldn't make the call, so I said to heck with it, and walked the few blocks, just to say "Hi". Donald greeted me warmly. As he, Dominique and the new au pair were about to sit down to supper, I was invited to join them. I was very touched by their warm welcome. I am now sitting at Dominique's computer writing this.

On Sunday, I left Carlisle via the Reivers route bike path. At Longtown, I veered Northwest, parallel to the border, before crossing near Newcastleton. There, I celebrated with some of the other Scottish national drink (Irn Bru) and lunch. From there, I pedaled up a lonely road, mostly populated by sheep and motorcyclists to a pass. From there it was mostly downhill to Jedburgh. I visited the Abbey and bought an explorer pass to sights of Historic Scotland. In order to make the most out of it, I have decided to alter my route. The short of it is that I will now go through Stirling rather than Perth. I have yet to work out how I will get to Stirling, but in order to do both Stirling and Doune Castles in one day, I may well take the train to Stirling.

On Monday, I think I got confused by the multiplicity of trails, ways, routes, etc. and got slightly lost. However, I did get to ride on a former Roman road, visit Melrose Abbey and do some typesetting at Robert Smail's print shop in Innerleithen. The latter is a Scottish National Trust site which is small yet very fascinating. One of the employees at the place asked what route I would be taking. When he found out it would be the B709, he gave me the friendly warning that it involved a lot of climbing but was very beautiful. Also, that there would be very nice downhill at the end. All of which was true.

Anyway, I need to plan what I will be doing over the next two days, as well as take advantage of the Athens of the North. Cheerio.

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