Oban to Edinburgh

Inverness to Lossiemouth. 25th May 2014

Set off in the promised rain! Started uphill, and then realised we would end up going the wrong way if we carried on following the cycle route signs, so cut down onto a dual carriageway which led onto the A96, which was miserable. It was raining, there was a lot of standing water by the side of the road and there was a lot of traffic, some of it going very fast. It was a real relief after about 5 miles to turn off onto a side road, which was surprisingly busy to begin with, but once we passed an industrial estate at the rear of Inverness Airport it suddenly quietened down. The road led along the coast, with views across to the Black Isle, bringing back memories of our 2 rides across it. The rain was less now, and progressively got less, with just occasional drizzle untill much later in the journey.

I looked out at the Moray Firth, but the nearest I got to seeing the dolphins who live there was a sculpture by the shore! Then we turned inland, and up a short step hill, one of the few steep bits of the day! It was along quiet back roads into Nairn, where we had a hot drink and I bought lunch, missing a shower of rain. The High Street of Nairn looked pretty down at heel and uninspiring. Then it was out of the town and back onto a lovely fairly straight, very quiet road for about 8 miles. It was idyllic. Very pastoral, with a large pig farm and what looked like a beautiful herd of Aberdeen Angus, amongst many of the animals we saw. Ate lunch in a bus shelter with a difference as the inside was painted and the seat painted to look like a crocodile.

My map showed us having to join the main road into Forres, but there was a new cycle route just being finished avoiding this. An old bridge had been extended, just for walkers and cyclists. I approved! Then we missed Forres and joined a busier B road to Lossiemouth. Unfortunately the road was fairly straight, right into the headwind, and it was hard going. And then it started to rain, not hard, but enough to be wet and not see out of my glasses properly! We went past a large industrial complex, which seemed out of place. Apparently a Diageo maltings. Then a last 7 miles along the coast. It felt like it was uphill all the way with the wind, and then finally past the big RAF station and into Lossiemouth. I was so relieved to have arrived and fell straight into bed for a nap. Hotel better than previous night, they had somewhere for the bikes, and it was a lot cheaper! Hotel had a coach-load of Belgians on a whisky distillery trip! Weather forecast better for tomorrow. Hope it’s right!!

Dist. 77.36  Ave. 14.6  Max. 28.6  Odo. 8412.4  Time. 5’17’54

Lossiemouth to Banff.  26th May 2014

Grey and misty over breakfast this morning, but we were promised sun later, and that was what we got as the cloud gradually lifted and cleared. What a difference. Scotland is so beautiful when the sun shines! Out of Lossiemouth and into a pine forest along flat roads, the perfect way to start the day! Across the peat coloured river Lossiemouth, and then onto very quiet roads across country to Garmouth. I had planned us having to go 4 miles inland and back to cross the river Spey, but hey presto here was an old rail bridge for cyclists and walkers! Lovely, and saved us 8 miles off our planned total for the day! From there into village of Nether Dallachy, which reminded me of the strangely named Cloddymoss on signs yesterday! Then it was along the coast to Buckie, an A road, but not as we know it. Fairly quiet and easy cycling! Saw a dead badger, and Stephen thought he saw a cub disappear by the roadside. Again lots of birds, including lots of rooks again! The sound track of this trip along the coast was the song of sky larks almost all the time! Stopped for mid-morning break in Buckie. Each time I mention Buckie, brain says Thistle. Stephen was amazed to notice the collecting box by the till in the cafe was for the Children’s Trust, Tadworth! From Buckie along the old railway and road (I think, memory a bit addled already!) great views, especially down on the Findochty Golf course. Then into Findochty, a ‘just and honest’ fishing village, or so it said on the sign!! What a pretty little village and harbour. If it were in Cornwall it would be overrun with thousands of tourists! Going into Findochty Stephen stopped for a chat with an elderly resident. Then a stiff climb out of the village and along the coastal path to Portknockie. What a joy! It was high up and down below were rocks and waves and great views. At Portknockie we picked up the old railway to Cullen, which made me think of ‘Twilight’. As we got to the edge of Cullen you could see 4 viaducts leading into the town, but we only crossed 2 before heading out of town and rather than take the A road, we took quieter, hillier, windier roads! Then down into Portsoy where we had lunch, again a collecting box for The Children’s Trust! Stephen tried an Aberdeen buttery, which was a bit pastry,a bit bread. The lady in the shop prepared us for the steep climb out, up then down to the river, then up again, before rolling along, into a headwind, but not as bad as yesterday. Both days the wind increased as the day went on! Finally into Banff along a cycle route and then road by the water’s edge, below the road and buff. A delightful way to end the day! Stayed in hotel owned by chatty Frenchman and Scottish wife.

Dist. 65.35  Total dist. 142.72  Ave. 13.00  Max. 38  Odo. 8477.8  Time 5’01’12

Banff to Boddam. 27th May 2014

Around the bay at Banff and over the bridge to Macduff to start the day. Along the front at Macduff and then turned off to take the coastal road to Fraserburgh. It was a lot hillier than the previous 2 days, and into a headwinds too. Definitely a much harder start to the day than yesterday. Progress was slow as the road seemed to go up and up. Each brow crested seemed to have a descent and then a higher climb. Some good views out to sea. The countryside was more like hill-farming country than the more lowland farms of the previous 2 days- no pig farms here. After what seemed like ages finally over the final crest and then a lovely descent going down in stages, each crest a bit lower than the present one, and down to the coast again. Past the turning to Pennan, where I had envisaged a coffee break, but wasn’t going to face the 14% climb back up out of the village! despite its local hero connections. Then a steep up and down, and then a 20% long climb up to New Aberdour. The sign said it was a 19th century planned village, and it was set out on a regular plan. Although we didn’t know it most of the hard cycling was done. We missed our turning out of the village, but rolled along quite fast before going into Rosehearty, where we would have stopped if we had seen anything suitable! Then along the shore, through Sandhaven, which looked as though it had been named to try an create a positive image; it didn’t feel like a sandy haven! Then the last bit into the headwind to Fraserburgh. Found a nice cafe in the centre of town for small lunch, a scone! The ladies were impressed at our cycling and say they couldn’t do it! If only they knew! Fraserburgh was a working port and we saw some trawlers and fish processing works. We hurried along on a B road, but eventually had to get onto the A90, which we weren’t looking forward to, but in the event was not that busy, and we rolled along very fast. Even Stephen was surprised as how I was keeping up! Went past St. Ferguson gas terminus, a huge industrial complex all of a sudden! The traffic got more, lots coming from the works, probably shift change time! Then into the edge of Peterhead and we went around the coast at Buchanhaven and into Peterhead port itself. Great to see a harbour with a lot of working trawlers of different sizes. Stopped at a lifting bridge, which was up till the next morning so retraced our steps. Noticed that the sea wall had been raised an extra 6 foot or so with concrete slabs to protect the port area. Through the very ordinary Main Street and out of town on a cycle path which continued almost all the way to Boddam where we stayed at the Buchan Braes, a newish hotel on the edge of town.

Dist. 78.86  Tot dist. 221.58  Ave. 13.2  Max. 42.9  Odo. 8556.6  Time. 5’58’22

Boddam to Kineff. 28th May 2014

Started out on the main A90 for a while. Not very nice, but also fortunately only a couple of miles or so then turned of onto the quieter A975. Past the ruined castle at Slains. Ignore S’s alternative route and carried on along the main road, with views out over Cruden Bay. Road was fairly easy, then came up alongside a muddy inlet, with new houses right on the shore and 2 large buildings from the Aberdeen University Oceanic dept as well. Stopped for coffee in a nice pub, and then on towards Aberdeen. Crossed the main A90, which was very busy, dashed across at Foveran and onto a small road. Had decided we would rather be away from the coast than dice with death on the A90! Backdrop to our ride now was the whirr of helicopters as they flew from Aberdeen airport to off-shore. From the top of a small rise about 8 miles out could see the high-rises of Aberdeen in the grey mist. Undulating road to Aberdeen, but not too bad, then suddenly on large industrial area at the Bridge of Don, and had to join the main road for a bit, but immediately after the Bridge could turn off, and go on the cycle path down the estuary. Looked back to see the bridge was a lovely old brick arched one.then onto the shore at Aberdeen. What a surprise! I had expected an industrial frontage, but no, it was a sandy beach with a long esplanade, and on the land side grass and sports area! Then we hit the harbour area and saw a ferry to the Islands in. One day! The traffic was terrible and we were right amongst it. Not helped by being at a set of traffic lights and S suddenly deciding we should be in the 3rd lane, diving across, waiting an age for the lights to change and then at the last minute deciding we should go back to the inside lane! Didn’t get lunch in Aberdeen, thought we would wait til after. I thought Nigg Bay looked okay. It seemed to be the waterworks for the city!! So on we went. Saw a little convenience store in Cove Bay, and while standing there saw a sign for the Cove Bay Inn, so went there. A buzzing little place and I had a delicious bowl of Cullen Skink, soup made with potatoes and smoked haddock. Then on again along the coast road through apostle then following a windy route and we definitely wanted to avoid the dual carriage-way A90. It was bad enough just crossing it. So we took a longer route away from the coast. At first on quiet lanes, then joined a B road which was quite busy. By now I was feeling really tired, but on we went. Onto Stonehaven, another working port, but much smaller than I had expected. A very steep hill out of Stonehaven, but a dedicated cycle path, then view over to Dunottar Castle. Final bit of the day about 6 miles on the A92 to Jackie and Andrews’s and it was no fun. It was between 5 and 6 and the road was very busy with people driving home very fast, and it seemed a long haul. I felt tired and grumpy! Finally there, what a relief and a lovely chance to catch up and see the lovely house.

Dist. 100.09  Total dist. 321.67  Ave. 15.1  Max. 40.4  Odo. 8656.7  Time. 6’35’53

Kineff to St. Andrews.  29th May 2014

As we had been told the evening before Kineff is the highest point on the East coast since Wick, and we were rewarded with a lovely start to the day with a sweeping descent for a few miles down to Inverbervie.  Then we picked up an old railway, lovely to be off-road and flat, but very, very bumpy! Then in Johnshaven followed S’s route along the coast and ended up pushing along a narrow footpath. Still it avoided the traffic! At the end of the off-road bit was a house whose fence was made up of loads of bits of flotsam. It also had about 50 beehives all close together. Only on the main road for a bit and then on a cycle route into Montrose. Was just thinking it looked like golf course territory, and there was Montrose golf club. Never seen so many golf courses! Each little town or village had its own golf course, and bowling green! After Montrose off onto minor roads, and a bit up and down to Lunan Bay, looking for a coffee stop, but none there! So on rolling small roads with a tail wind into Arbroath. Stephen stopped and spotted what turned out to be a lovely tea shop. When in Arbroath, eat a smokie! So we did. Thought we had ordered a smokie and cream cheese panini, with an added cup of soup to share, but we had that each! Was delicious and surprised that I had managed to eat it all. Also treated myself to some fudge from the sweets there, but drew the line at Irnbru bonbons!. Cycled along the front at Arbroath, and thought it was nice, not what I had imagined. Felt like a town on the up and trying to improve. From Arbroath was a cycle path all along the coast to Carnoustie. Was beautiful in the sun with a tail wind. Right past the golf course with several coaches for transporting the golf tourists around. The golf courses looked great, and very exposed! 3 stations very close together, including Golf Street! The cycle path continued on past Carnoustie to Monfieth, and so did the tail wind. Perfect afternoon cycling! The cycle path carried onto Broughty Ferry, with its castle. Shame the ferry didn’t run any more as it would have saved us around 8 miles going via Dundee and the Tay Bridge. We had thought about stopping in Dundee, but it was only just after 4 and the weather was glorious so we decided to push on to St Andrews and make the most of the evening. The cycle path continued to the adage of Dundee, and then was separated from the main road, but was not pleasant! The Tay bridge was strange. Up to it in a lift and the the cycle and pedestrian lane was down the middle of the bridge, and the bridge was up hill all the way! Over the bridge turned east to Tayport, and then out along a lovely wooded track through the Tentsmuir Forest. Added to the distance, but was great. Came out of the forest onto a small, quiet road leading to Leuchars, and the RAF base. Had heard a couple of jets take off. Several plane spotters gathered just outside the fence, and saw a pair of jets fly over close together and then 1 peeled off, then a bit later 1 looked quite spectacular landing.from there a cycle path along the main road to St Andrews. Had a bad feeling when we passed a couple of B&B’s with no vacancy signs, and so it proved. Tried a hotel, pointed us in the direction of others, all full. Eventually looked online, found 1 free and phoned. We had walked right past it! Went out to explorer. The place was full of small groups of men, middle-aged and older, many different nationalities. Wonder why? Saw the golf course, and the green in front of the club house. It and the fairway looked amazing. So beautifully cut, so perfect, but so undulating! Also looked out at the front. Was it where Chariots of Fire was filmed? It certainly looked like it. Liked St Andrews a lot!

Dist. 116.6  Total dist. 438.28  Ave. 13.9  Max. 39.8  Odo. 8773.3  Time. 8’23’12

St Andrews to Edinburgh. 30th May 2014

Left up the Main Street past lovely buildings, the ruined cathedral and out through a city gate to the tiny port. Followed a main road eastwards, with a long hill to start. Always a bad sign when the first village name ends in ‘hills’, as in Brownhills this day. Good views out over the sea as the road undulated up and down, past various golf courses, including one very posh looking golf resort, and 2 courses, one of which called Torrance. Also passed by coach for ‘executive and golf transport’ turning into one.down to the village of Crail almost at the end of the peninsula, where we stopped in a lovely tea shop. Crail seemed a nice little place. Then along a quiet, undulating road with good views as far as Anstruther, from where the road got busier. Through the strangely named Pittenweem, and onto Elie at another corner where we followed the cycle signs, and ened up adding a mile to the trip, in saving a mile on the main road. Thought about a detour according to the Garmin, but as not signposted decided against it as we didn’t want to end up pushing on a bad path, so it was the main road to Largo. At Upper stopped for lunch, but nothing suitable so down to Lower Largo and bought a sandwich and ate it sitting on a bench in the sun looking out over the tiny harbour with 2 boats and the sea. Then through Leven, and. Methyl and around the busy harbour with large windmill and crane at Buckhaven. Road then not as busy as feared as we went through the delightfully named East Wemyss and Coaltown of Wemyss, named after a coal magnate named Wemyss, and passed the hospital named after him. Then into Kirkcaldy. Not impressed. Sea wall being rebuilt so on the main road, and not pretty. Long seafront consisted of outside of shopping precinct, municipal swimming pool, and multi-storey car park, all very unappealing! Won’t be on my list of places to go back to. Was birth-place of Adam Smith, as it boldly proclaimed on the town sign. Up a steep narrow main road out of Kirkcaldy, no fun, but crested the brow of a hill and about 10 miles away could see the Forth bridges. Then down a wider road to Burntisland where we picked up a cycle route along the Firth shore, past Aberdour, Dalkeith Bay and into Inverkeithing. By now into a gloriously warm, cloudless early evening. Across the Forth Road bridge and could see the replacement bridge being built. Picked up the cycle route signed to the city centre, had been 10.5 miles in Inverkeithing, had cycled about 4 miles and still 10 miles!! The normal route beside the A90 and we had to go through the estate of Lord Roseberry on quiet roads! Lots of commuters using the route to go home, all cycling hard, and all except 1 male! We did do a couple of extra miles following the scenic route, but it a lovely. Cycled through the posh area of Edinburgh, with Kingswood style houses! Followed an old railway in towards the city, and then followed a wiggly way on Stephen’s Garmin, before finally arriving at the hotel we had booked. I was totally exhausted! But so pleased to have made it all the way to Edinburgh, and to have cycled so far. 3 consecutive days over 100km! And another section of the coast done!

Dist. 114.97  Total dist. 553.25  Ave. 13.5  Max. 36.5  Odo. 8888.3  Time. 8’30’44

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