The merry seven of us met at Dundee station in cold bright sunshine with only Keith and Tiana allowed a pre-ride coffee break (the organisers privilege for having to get the early train). A few brief words and off we set alongside the silvery Tay, wending our way along a reasonably wide shared use path. After a few miles we turned inland and then climbed up gently into the hills. The route was pretty quiet as we stayed well away from the main roads, particularly the scenic detour around Kirkton, returning to our route along a slightly rough track that provided a well-hidden relief point.
Onward to Newtyle – we bypassed a not very obvious café for a picnic in the church grounds where the local children asked about our trip – maybe they’ll pedal their bikes a bit further one day.
From here we followed a slight ridge and then down past a working sawmill through the grounds of Logie House to Kirriemuir. K+T visited the local co-op to obtain the victuals while the others tucked in at the café.
Onward to Prosen in the gloaming along a well wooded glen. Our arrival at the hostel was greeted with some confusion (a bit like our booking – be persistent, the hostel is well appointed, but a devil to book, which at least means beds are likely to be available).
The return journey was down the other side of the river (the more intrepid cycled the four miles to the end of the glen). It was a bit dull and overcast but no real rain with nice views of the autumn colours. Onward to Forfar where the local pub welcomed us, took our bikes into their yard and suggested we eat our own food, as it was the chef’s day off.
Now followed the long climb up Carrot Hill before sweeping down to Dundee and the train home. The party split up (only 2-4 bikes per train) with the later group taking the longer route along the NCN and Firth of Tay.
We’ll be back – The hostel’s location is great for cycling/walking – its well worth the effort to book.
Report from the breakaway group:
Carrot Hill was a doddle compared with the hills earlier in the afternoon.
The only awful bit was the crossing of the Dundee ring road: I hauled my
bike over a pedestrian bridge, and the others took a gamble on the
roundabout but survived intact.
We got to the station with ten minutes to spare, to find the platform
thronged with people and bikes. We thought we had no chance of getting on,
but the helpful guard managed to find room for everyone, so for the first
part of the journey there were EIGHT bikes on the 3-coach train - the three
of us and five mountain-bikers. The latter got off at Leuchars, where two
other cyclists got on, so there were five bikes from there to Edinburgh. The train was packed, with some people sitting on the floor or standing all the way. The reason for the crowding was that the 16.28 - the one I had been booked on - had been cancelled.
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Participants: Jan, Ross, Sue, Fiona, Tiana, Richard and Jackie.
On Saturday we met at Fisher and Donaldson in Cupar- fabulous bakery. On to Kellie Castle for lunch- rolls only for lunch but the castle and gardens was well worth a visit. On to Crail for another coffee stop! The Crail harbour gallery had a lovely wee café overlooking the harbour and great cakes! It was a lovely sunny day- the waves crashing over the harbour edge. Deer spotted on the roads Then back to St Andrews to the tourist hostel. The room was fine but kitchen not hygienic and definitely not an option for self catering!
Sunday morning, it was a wee bit tricky finding the cycle path to the North but once found it was a delightful cycle to Tentsmuir forest. The highlight for me was undoubtedly the bat hanging from the sink chain in the ladies loos! The mobile snacks van was the only hot drinks venue for the route on the Sunday. Hence why we had made the most of the café possibilities on the Saturday!
We then cycled along the North East coast of Fife through Tayport and on to Wormit . Most of us then veered off towards Gauldry to get back to Cupar along the backroads and to catch the non-bookable 2 hourly train service back home!
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Only four people went on this weekend. The rest of you missed a good one.
Saturday was blue sky and sunshine, with occasional cloud, so not too hot.
We left Edinburgh via NCN route 1 to Dalmeny, then by Dalmeny Station and
Hopetoun Crossroads to the Forth Road Bridge. We found that the western
cycle path was closed (as was the northbound road carriageway, because of
resurfacing works) so we had to take the eastern one; on reaching the north
end of the bridge we had to take the bikes down a lot of steps to the North
Queensferry road. We called at the Queensferry Hotel, at the end of the
bridge, for coffee and scones (lavishly presented and priced to match).
We then found our way through a suburban maze west of Rosyth to the back road via Primrose to Dunfermline, then a stiff climb past the Abbey to the Alloa cycle path. We left it after a few miles to the Old Inn at Carnock, where we sat outside and enjoyed a filling pub lunch costing not much more than the coffee and scone in the morning.
After lunch, we re-joined the Alloa path at Oakley and continued along it to Slack, then northwards along minor roads to Dollar, where we stopped for tea and cakes, and shopping for the evening meal. We left Dollar by the steep High Street to avoid a stretch of the busy A91, but we had to endure a mile of it, uphill, through Pool of Muckhart (please drive carefully) before turning north to Glendevon Youth Hostel (42 miles).
As there were no vegetarians in the group, we indulged in a meat course, followed by a crumble with pears (bought) and blackberries that we picked earlier in the afternoon from roadside bushes.
Sunday was cloudy, but still pleasant.
We left Glendevon the way we had come in, then turned left on to the B934.
A long but gentle climb was rewarded by a continuous 900-foot descent,
freewheeling all the way, into Dunning. Wonderful... except that Dunning is
on the north side of the Ochils and Edinburgh is south of them. So, after a cup of coffee - which I did not expect to find there - we slogged up another hill road via Pathstruie to Milnathort: we had to walk up some of the hills, but the views were terrific, northwards across Strathearn to the Highlands, and south to the Lomond Hills and Loch Leven.
Over lunch at Milnathort we decided not to do any more adventuring but go straight back, through Kelty and over Hill of Beath, to Inverkeithing (36 miles).
A combination of tired legs, darkening clouds and a crosswind tempted us to do the last bit by train. There were several trains at that time of day, but they were busy. We couldn't all get our bikes on the first one, so two of us waited for the next - and that also had only two bike spaces free. (That was the only occasion when I was thankful for only four on the trip). But we all got home by half past six.
Glendevon Hostel closed for the winter on the Sunday. It's the ideal distance for a day's cycling from Edinburgh, and lies in the middle of some lovely hill scenery. But it's not very busy, and appears to be under threat.
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“Come to sunny Minnigaff and watch it rain“, says the Hostel stamp, we did, it didn’t.
Cycling south from Newton Stewart to the MARTYRS STAKE where the chosen volunteer refused to cooperate long enough for the tide to come in.
Onto Wigtown, Scotland’s Book town and its too many distractions, cafes, books, shops so it’s the usual faff pace, then on for another 7 miles to lunch at Garlieston, which claims to be the home of the D Day Mulberry harbours. Its 15 mls in 3 hrs and the first of a large choice of many locally made ice creams.
Ice cream seemed to increase the pace as we crossed over to Port William where it was a local Gala and no great choice of eateries and worse still no ice creams.
North to Mochrum and back up to Minnigaff.
A drive to Gatehouse and cycle north to Laurieston with the sun shining, blue seas and burnt knees. Not much in the way of coffee stops. Lunch by the river at Tongland Hydro Power Station, onto Kirkubright which was busy, but for some reason not a lot of eateries seem to think worth opening on a Sunday, very disappointing. A gentle meander back to Gatehouse for coffee and cake.
To sum up, quiet roads, no steep hills, no rain, no one got lost, no incidents.
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It was good to see so many old friends from Spokes and the Ski Club on our Dumfries and Galloway cycling weekend, and specially good that the sun shone on us most of the way. If you didn't come, the route wound its way on very minor roads from Thornhill to St Johns Town of Dalry, which is really just a village. I was surprised at how many people in the group had never actually been there. We stayed in the Lochinvar Hotel on a £35 dinner + B&B deal, though most of us blew that budget with the wine (Kendoon Youth Hostel didn't seem to be missed).
On Sunday we completed the circle via Lorg and Drumlanrig Castle, again with some great views. The downside of going by Lorg was that we had to walk for a mile or so but this meant that we only saw two cars all afternoon. I did make one mistake in the organisation though - timing the weekend during Wimbledon.
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A weekend to remember! Barbara, Jenny, Bill, Ross, Jan and I braved a bad forecast for an exploration of part of the Tweed Valley Cycle route.
A lesson on how one seemingly minor omission can nearly hijack the weekend. The e-mail detailed route, food and accommodation but not my mobile number. No matter I thought, nothing will happen before we meet up. No such luck. 2 miles from home in the rain I get a puncture! I have mobile of one of the three soon to be waiting at Auchendinny, so I phone and say, “I have only your mobile, you don’t have to wait, go onto café and wait there”. This was interpreted as “don’t tell the poor sods waiting in the rain but go to café yourself!” Fortunately one of the ‘poor sods’ remembered my home number so were informed and were found dutifully waiting nearly one hour later. The culprit knows who he is!
From Auchendinny we went to Eddleston (and found the café closed) then onto the Meldon hills, where we picnicked and admired the view. We joined the Tweed cycleway at Lyne Station and followed it through to Melrose, stopping at Peebles for coffee. Local conversation was about rain and flooding and we realised that we’d missed some pretty severe downpours. We missed another by inadvertently overshooting a turnoff and ending up in Gala. Deciding to pop into the supermarket was a brilliant instinct for survival for the heavens opened. We arrived in Melrose dry and cheery after an enjoyable day.
Sunday we set off for Dryburgh, but decided not to visit the abbey as no café, but we did see the Wallace monument and Scott’s view (well, most of it). We stopped for coffee at Earlston then moved onto Stow. This way is a series of slow pulls up the hills, quiet roads and good scenery. However the rain set in and our picnic at Stow was a little soggy to say the least. Two then peeled off the route here, the remaining four set off to Heriot through the ever-heavier rain and larger puddles. We decided to risk the A7 rather than the muddy field but Barbara and Jenny overshot the turnoff back to Middleton and went the whole way in on the A7 while Bill and I rejoined the NCN1 and made our way home (approximately) on that.
Jan and Ross returned to Melrose to collect Jan’s car. It was a wet cycle on the minor road on the west side of the Gala water then it was either take the certainty of the A7 or gamble by taking the unsigned track passing Dryburn ending on the B710 then another track to Torwoodlee and into Galashiels.
The gamble paid off, the Dryburn track is downhill, a bit cobbly and the Torwoodlee track is signed as a local walk, a bit cobbly but both passable with nice scenery and good views, even in the rain.
Return through Galashiels and onto the cyclepath to Melrose when just as you thought you could not get any wetter it tipped down.
Tiana and Ross
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One of my favourite rides but only two this time!
Saturday 26th May
Tiana and I headed north up the A9 to Ballinluig; a quick right and hence to Grandtully on A82.
Across the road we got to sample the fairly new coffee shop called “Legends”! Beautiful décor and ambience – the coffee and cakes were ok too!
We set off across the wee Grandtully bridge and along the B road through Strathtay and Weem; then ignored the “road closed” sign along the wee road to Kenmore, for lunch. (BT laying cables!!)
The Caber Feidh (water sports) café was closed!! ? to be under new management?? We retreated to the “Church” Café nearer Kenmore for toasted sarnies, and were entertained by watching a hapless driver try to drive his car, with bikes on top, under a low lychgate type entrance! Crunch!! Don’t know which came off worst!
On along the pretty south Loch Tay road in reasonable weather.- cloudy but warm and dry! We resisted the splendid afternoon teas at the sweet Ardeonaig hotel -£6 for a cream tea for one!
Stayed at the Killin Hostel and dined on vegie pasta and pudding!
Sunday 27th May.
Up the BIG hill (mainly walking!) and a quick descent to the top of Glen Lyon.- as beautiful as ever. Another amble down the glen , with a red deer crossing the road in front of me, to reach picturesque Bridge of Balgie, and its tea room (of course!) We watched a red squirrel scamper across the said bridge and gazed at the river below.
Homemade soup and delicious cake,(and cheeky chaffinches!) and a retreat inside due to a few spots of rain. Suitably replenished and rested we freewheeled on down to Fortingall with its thatched houses and its famous yew tree!!
After Weem we were just in time for a further fuel stop at the House of Menzies, before getting back to Grandtully.
A great weekend in a great glen!
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Sue, Tiana, Keith, Alec, Fiona and Barbara
Five of us rose at an unearthly hour to catch the 7.20 train to Carlisle. We arrived to so-so weather and the idea that with only 37 miles to ride and it being 8.40am we had all day. We searched unsuccessfully for a café, then set off on the route 72, our route for the weekend. Having all day, we decided to take a detour to Wetheral gatehouse, which was – er – a gatehouse standing imposingly alone next to a farm. Having inspected it carefully we set off to Brampton. Here we found a café and trooped in only to meet Barbara coming out! She had caught the later train had cycled there AND had her lunch! Anyway she stayed and watched us eat ours and we set off for Lanercost priory. Being too mean to pay we contented ourselves with looking at the present day Church (which was part of the old priory) and wandering round the outside. There was an exhibition depicting the history of the priory which included the Wars of Independence from the English point of view, which seemed unsettling being only a stone’s throw from the border. By now well into the afternoon, we set off for Birdoswald Fort arriving an hour before closing. It housed an interesting museum and the excavated foundations of the fort.
By now, of course we were running late, so we set off for Haltwhistle at a steady pace so as not to miss getting some food. In doing so we managed to lose one member of the party but fortunately they turned up by the time we emerged from the supermarket. Once Brewed YHA is beautifully situated on a hillside with lovely views. They had entered into the spirit of the history of the area for the dining room was decorated with mock Roman scenes.
Sunday we set off for Newcastle, but had hardly gone a mile before we arrive at Vindolanda. Sue, Keith and Tiana then proceeded to spend 3hours looking round the museum and site. It was most interesting as archaeologists have found fragments of letters written on thin pieces of pine wood dating from around 1st century AD. They depict ordinary events such as describing life in Britain to friends at home or an invitation to a party. It is the earliest example of women’s writing found in Britain. We did not catch up Fiona and Alec till 8 miles from Newcastle where they were resting in a pub filled with strong Geordie accents . This foxed at least Fiona who "couldn't understand a word". Vive le Border! Barbara had gone on ahead as her train was earlier than ours. We travelled into Newcastle together and arrived at the Station just as the rain started. Excellent timing!
All in all the route 72 is an interesting path, full of historical monuments and because it travels along the line of the wall often commands excellent views of the surrounding countryside.
Tiana and Sue
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The Stalwart Seven of Jan, Sue L, Tiana, Sheila, Alec, Harris and Fiona
went on the ride
Well we had brilliant weather. We all met for coffee first in Musselburgh, eventually finding cafe which had change its name without telling us and still answered the phone with the old cafe name.
While we were relaxing over coffee and rolls Forgetful Fiona realised her dreaful mistake but Heroic Harris came to the rescue, and we finally set off, arriving for lunch only half an hour late. We had a tremendous lunch, joined at the end by Rhoda, Norman and little Aiden, it was nice to see them again
Took a leisurly but more scenic route back and all got home safely
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