Monday, 20 August 2012
Extra ride to Livingston (19th August)
From our meeting point at the Water of Leith Visitor Centre, we took the canal to Hermiston House Road, then weaved through a series of pleasant country lanes by way of Gogarbank and Bonnington Mains, before re-joining the canal for a crossing of the lofty Almond Aqueduct. We entered Almondell Country Park at the north entrance, and enjoyed a fast freewheel to the Visitor Centre, where we stopped for a toilet break and general regrouping (see photo).
The next stage was on NCN 75 as it follows the fast-flowing Almond through a deep wooded gorge. This is a tricky path, with several narrow and steep sections. Inevitably we had to dismount a couple of times to haul our bikes over some difficult bits.
We emerged from the park in south Livingston. Now, this is a part of the country where I usually get myself lost (the trouble with the bike paths in Livingston is that there are so many of them). But Jenny's diligent recces had paid off, and she led us unerringly past the civic centre and St. Margaret's Academy to reach our lunch stop in Livingston Village
This was something of a revelation to most of the group. Livingston Village is the original Livingston, before the arrival of the new town in the 1960s. It dates back to the early 12th Century, and was a typical West Lothian farming community. Today, the village is still intact, despite being entirely surrounded by the new town. Its focal point is the 18th Century Livingston Inn, where we enjoyed a leisurely al fresco lunch.
After lunch, we took the well-surfaced bike path that runs alongside the Edinburgh to Bathgate railway line. We then turned right at Uphall Station onto a somewhat rougher path, which eventually led us onto the dramatic Camps Viaduct. From here, we were able to look down onto the path along the Almond that we had traversed a few hours earlier.
A mile or so later, we re-joined NCN 75 for a mostly downhill stretch via Kirknewton, Long Dalmahoy and the Herriot-Watt campus. Up to now, the day had been mostly warm and sunny, but as we reached the canal for the final leg, it turned cloudy with some spots of rain. So we quickly got to the junction with the Water of Leith path, where we went our separate ways. At just over 35 miles, it was another highly successful ride.
Report and photo: Mike