The Ken Mcaskell memorial ride was a cracker. Mysteriously, only six went on this, so it was suggested we tell those who didn't come what they missed out on!
After the wet and windy weather on Saturday, Sunday was calm, clear and at times brilliantly sunny. The ride certainly takes in some fine Borders scenery. The autumn colours were fabulous and even the Selkirk sheep are orange this time of year.
he Crook Inn at Tweedsmuir welcomed us with a blazing fire and coffee and scones, essential fortification before heading off for Talla reservoir (see borrowed pic attached) and beyond. Riding beside the reservoir, the slight sense of foreboding grows for anyone on a bike as they approach 'T-T-The Hill' leading up to St Mary's Loch. At 20% it is a bit of a haul but we had a slight tailwind, and of course on the way up one can stop and admire the view of the steep v-shaped valley below. Beyond there, it is easy to exceed 30 mph freewheeling on the descents.
A few miles on from the loch, the re-opened Gordon Arms was a welcome sight. The food on offer is much improved on the tinned soup and white bread sarnie menu of a few years ago. Thereafter it is mostly an easy ride, via Traquair, past the bear gates and back to Peebles. The ride distance is 49.5 miles. Before heading home everyone said 'let's do it again next year'. It will be in the mellovello calendar, and we hope you can join us.
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The tremendous trio of Amazing Alec, Brilliant Barbara and Feisty Fiona had a wicked weekend in Arran rattling up the hills and zooming down at tremendous speed in beautiful sunshine in spite of Friday's heavy rain in Edinburgh. We had time for lots of leisurely tea stops even time for shopping.
So you all missed a fantastic weekend!
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What a wonderful ride and what wonderful weather! Only three of us ended up on this ride, which was a pity as the route was gloriously empty of traffic and other nasties of the modern world. As I had not had the opportunity to ‘test’ the route first, a small group was a distinct asset.
We started at Berwick-upon-Tweed where we were helped – yes helped! – off the train by a friendly Railway staff member. (She helped us back on too on Sunday) We trundled off to find NCN route 1 heading south. What an improvement! I remember the cliff path as somewhat perilous and the road section criss-crossed the railway. Now the cliff top is still rough but at least you can enjoy the view and the road section has path links so you only cross the railway twice and at ‘proper’ level crossings. It tips you off at the end of the causeway to Lindisfarne.
On Lindisfarne we enjoyed a pub lunch and then set off for Bamburgh, again on the NCN1. The SE wind had strengthened so we whizzed off the island but the remainder took somewhat longer than expected and we arrived at Bamburgh rather late – 4pm!
A café stop was essential and we bought food for the evening meal to. We set off at 5.30pm for the remaining 25miles to Wooler. We crossed the A1 at North Chatton and had a wonderful evening ride along the gated (and hence virtually empty) road through the Chillingham estate. We arrived, having collected a bottle of wine, at the hostel at nearly 9pm! (59 miles)
We made up for this by not starting till 10am the next day. We cycled the NCN 68 from near Doddington though Ford, Etal, Norham, Paxton to Berwick again (33 miles). There is local ice cream to be had at Doddington which was great, but the Heatherslaw mill café was a disappointment, not like Blair Atholl mill café at all, the service was very slow, the soup was fine but the bread very ordinary and microwaved from frozen! We’re sticking to Etal in future! We stopped at the Honey farm near the Chain Bridge and at Paxton House for coffee.
The route was great and well signed – until Paxton, where it had been changed because the ford nearby had deteriorated. The old signs are still in place, though new ones have been put up as well so it is confusing.
We had opportunity to complain about this and comment in general, as Sustrans + Local council were conducting surveys of the cycle path usage. We were stopped three times! We were asked to keep a diary of what we did over the weekend and post it in with any comments we wished to make. It appears that the paths are underused in this area and so maintenance seems to be ‘pulling up the weeds’ type work. The council must pick up the tab for this and ever looking for cutbacks have hit upon the idea of charging for cycle use. They are testing the waters by asking the question at the moment. We sent in our comment. But the paths are under used. There we were, on a glorious summer weekend and we met hardly anyone. The surveyors said the same – why? We had three and not ten – Why?
So get out there, and cycle those paths – in groups, singly, mid week and weekends. Find those surveyors and put your point across. They survey each path three times a year apparently. Whether this is true in Scotland I’m not sure.
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Killin Hostel kindly arranged bike transport by trailer to Dunkeld, enabling an early start. Morag, Jennifer, Tiana and Keith made steady progress along the cycle route, taking a break (but no coffee) at a medicinal herb garden. It was tempting, but we kept our fingers away from the strawberries!
Bought plenty of food and liquid (it was hot!) at a small shop and picnicked on a golf course - the local dog walker warning of erratic play was ignored until 4 golfers appeared and subsequently disappeared into gorse bushes looking for little white balls.
Final section along south Loch Tay trying to keep up with the quadathalon cyclists – we almost made it on TV! The hostel is a little disorganised but once we’d worked out how to get a hot shower we settled in fine.
Sunday’s ride started with the trip up to Glen Ogle viaduct – great to look down on the cars the other side of the glen. The cycle route to Balloch follows a long windy mostly off road route along forest tracks and old railways. Great to be mainly traffic free (except the section designated as a forest drive, which was made unpleasant by the oncoming traffic creating clouds of dust). After a long hot day we had a well-earned coffee at Aberfoyle before the final two long hills to Balloch and fish supper whilst waiting for the train home.
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We had a wonderful weekend. Quiet roads, lovely scenery, and plenty of excitement towards the end.
There was no rain on Sunday morning where we were, but we hit the monsoon in the afternoon in the middle of the Moorfoot Hills. There was some shelter, but we were soaked through by the time we reached it. After that, we had to cycle through several lakes, some nearly up to bottom-bracket level: the most amazing one was on the bridge over the North Esk between Eskbank and Melville Castle - you would expect a bridge over a river to have a drain!
There were seven in the group. One, who was well in front, got separated from the group during the rain, but rather than wait for us at the next rendezvous (which was a very exposed junction) made her own way home, by much the same route as the rest of us.
The hotel at Stow where I had hoped to have Saturday lunch has closed, but luckily I found that out a few days before the run so I was able to tell the others to bring a packed lunch.
Otherwise, everything went as expected. No punctures, mechanical problems or unresolved arguments. Shirtsleeves weather all day Saturday and until after lunch on Sunday.
47 miles on Saturday, and about the same on Sunday.
Saturday: Gilmerton Road - Newbattle - above Newtongrange and Gorebridge - Borthwick - Middleton (crossing A7 by underpass) - Heriot (via hill track) - Fountainhall - Stow (lunch) - Windydoors - Clovenfords (tea at pub) - A707 - Selkirk (shop for evening meal) - Broadmeadows YH.
Sunday: Gordon Arms (coffee) - Innerleithen (lunch, Traquair Arms); then by NCN 1 to Garvald (deluge), Middleton (another deluge), Carrington, Bonnyrigg and Eskbank; and into Edinburgh by Gilmerton Road.
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Sheelagh and Tiana started from Edinburgh and the rest from Longniddry. From there we cycled to Geoff and Jayne's near Haddington for coffee. Duncan's train from Linlithgow had taken 1hr 20mins to reach Edinburgh so Graham had waited for him and they caught us up there. Satiated we travelled to Gifford and up the hill and across the Whiteadder resevoir. The landscape was in full bloom. Masses of hawthorn and gorse. The flowers were about a week behind Edinburgh. We picnicked by a river then scooted down towards Duns turning off to visit a real ale pub at Aiuchencrow where we slaked our thirst.
We stayed at the Castle Rock B&B in St Abbs that had great views and the landlady served us tea and cake on arrival! We had plenty of opportunity to look around St Abbs before cycling into Coldingham for our meal.
Sunday, we cycled to Pease Bay where we realised that some speedsters had overshot the junction! They were found later in Cockburnspath! We then went along the pleasant but rather hilly minor road through Innerwick, Spott and Stenton and East Linton where we had lunch. The rain had come on and Geoff and Jayne peeled off to Haddington, Duncan and Graham raced to get an early train from Drem. The rest of us called into the motor cycle racing at East Fortune and back to Longniddry just as the heavens opened.
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Drove to the Hostel at Shlochd run by Liz and Ian Bishop. Great setting next to the Ptilochry to Inverness cycle path as it crosses the railway line. Well apointed hostel with all mod cons - except the odd hook or three to hang stuff on. Ian has a cycle workshop in the yard. As this was a typical Mellowvelo group Ian was kept busy all Saturday evening!
It was a gloriously sunny weekend. We took the bikes to Clava cairns by car/trailer and cycled east towards Cawdor then south over the hill to Carrbridge and back to the hostel via Sluggan Bridge. Some gave themselves an extra hill by going the wrong way at the start! We had a picnic in the woods and a cafe stop in Carbridge, not to mention the odd rest while going over the hills.
On Sunday we went to Tomatin, the turned west up river then north to Farr then eastish back to Clava Cairns. Cafe stop at the herb nursery. Hint for future visits - stick to the coffee and cake. Several of us brought plants to decorate our bicycles, and later, gardens.
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"Follow the Cycle Path, ye cannae go wrong". Why did I say that? There`s always one and in this case two to prove you wrong.
Saturday started well, Alec, Morag, Alison, Jan, Sheelagh, Fiona, Robin, Eelena, Ross all met at the right time and place, the weather was sunny. Cycle from Dunblane by Old Doune road, a wee bit off road then onto new cycle path into Doune for coffee and scones. Continue on back road to Callander and onto NCN route 7 via Glen Ogle for Killin. Lunch was in a sunny spot by the river. Just after Strathyre the rain comes on, the Old Library tearoom at Balquhidder was shut so we move onto Kingshouse Hotel. Continue on as rain eases. Should be easy, just follow the path.
Near the top of the pass both suspects at front pass me as I take some photos. Reach Killin, both suspects missing. check mobile phone, hear a broken voice mail, sounds like
Ross, hi its (suspect no. 1) xxxxxxxx it's OK not badly xxxxxxxxxxxxx just concussed xxxxxxxxxxxxx way past xxxxxxxxxx OK.
No reply to phone call.
Go back a bit to look for them, no sign.
An hour passes and conclude they must not have crossed the road at the junction at the top of Glen Ogle, continued on own old railway line and one may have fallen off bike and lying injured while other is trying to phone and getting no signal.
An hour passes, no sign, still no joy on the phone.
A quick phone call to Central Scotland Police and soon Police phone back to say they are on their way from Callander.
Minutes later the two suspects appear uninjured, even suspect no.1 admits message sounds like concussed. They had been talking and gone down the old railway line into Glen Dochart until they could get no further. Suspect no1 is alleged to have said " Wouldn`t it be funny if we`ve taken the wrong path". They reach a a point where they can go no further and realise they have taken the wrong path. "Wouldn`t we feel silly if the junction was obvious".
When they return and find out it is.
So, no pictures of yellow jacketed persons and bikes dangling beneath helicopters.
Sunday Set off from Kiliin back up it top of Glen Ogle and down into Lochearnhead for coffee at Water Sports Centre. Head of for South Lochearn road to find sign saying first bridge is down, cycle along to find bridge down but manage to scramble across. Continue on until Robin's pannier rack breaks, manage a repair then easy cycling to Comrie for lunch.
Now on way back to Dunblane Sheelagh gets a puncture. Dig out piece of glass, put new tube in, patch old tube, go a short distance, it deflates, take tube out, cannot find any puncture in it. The rest continue on. Put old repaired tube in, it works and we continue on back to Dunblane.
A general reflection,
Maybe its time there was a condition imposed that only those who have bikes that pass inspection should be allowed to go and those that don`t, be sent home.
Tyres - sufficient pressure, no bits hanging off, no cord exposed.
Chain - oil or lack of it, are some trying to do their bit to keep the cost of a barrel of crude down ?
THESE PEOPLE KNOW WHO YOU ARE.
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