Cockenzie House was today's destination. The Meadows, Musselburgh and Cockenzie House - a quite straight forward ride by a well known route then? Not at all. At the briefing, the leader informed the group that whilst much of the route would be on familiar roads and paths, there would be a couple of stretches that would be completely new to most. So the scene was set for an interesting route, with some nice East Lothian scenery thrown in. The weather forecast suggested sunny intervals, pleasant temperatures and no rain. As it turned out, two out of three ain't bad. Good weather and the promise of an interesting route led to a turnout of 28 riders - second highest of the year.
Not long after leaving the Meadows, we came across an obstacle. We couldn't cross St Leaonard's Street at the usual crossing as new tar had been laid a short time before our arrival. A very helpful road worker informed us we would have to go up the pavement and cross further up. This slight detour didn't delay us for long. Safely across, and we were soon through the tunnel and travelling down the Innocent Railway. At Brunstane station, we turned left as if heading for the Brunstane Burn path. But we carried straight on to follow a less familiar path as it threaded through the Gilbertstoun estate. With the first unfamiliar section behind us, we re-joined the usual route to Musselburgh station. Paths, quiet back streets and a footbridge over the River Esk saw us on The Grove for a short distance, before turning onto a path that took us to Inveresk. A left and right and we were on Crookston Road, which peters out to become a path running alongside the A1 slip road. A short pause to regroup beside the site of the Battle of Pinkie, and we were on the road towards Whitecraig which crosses the A1. A left turn, and it looked as if we were heading for the steep climb that is Fa'side Hill. Those that knew where they were, looked worried. There had been no mention of this steep hill at the briefing. The leader then turned left onto a flat strtech of road and stopped. We then had a stop for cake thanks to Iain. Pressing on towards St Clement's Well, there were several comments about how beautiful it was riding past sheep grazing in the fields. The comment, "I don't know where we are" was also heard from many. The road ended and a path lead us on a footbridge over the A1 to emerge amongst the new houses being built on the edge of Wallyford. A track led us between the unfinished houses to emerge at Wallyford Industrial Estate. Down to the traffic lights, turn right and we were heading towards the top side of Prestonpans. We stayed on that familiar road until we turned left and took a path down to the site of the Battle of Prestonpans. Back on the road for a short stretch and we arrived at Cockenzie House for our lunch stop. Most of the group headed to the cafe, but a few opted to picnic in the park across the road where they dined in the warm sunshine.
We left Cockenzie House by the rear entrance. This avoided the main road and took us past Cockenzie harbour. Avoiding the main road, we were soon on the new cycle path. With no shelter, this was where we were hit with a brief but heavy shower. Back onto the coast road, we left Prestonpans and joined the cycle path beside the Firth of Forth. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing flood defence works, a section of the coast path is closed. This meant we had to re-join the road for a while, before turning off and getting back on the coast path. Onwards to Fisherrow Harbour for a comfort stop before joining the road towards Portobello. At the bottom of Milton Road we took the Brunstane Burn path to Brunstane station. The run back into town saw us retrace our outward route from the morning. We had another slight delay at St Leaonard's Street. The tar was now dry, but the crossing was not working and traffic was heavy. Back at the Meadows the leader declared the ride over.
Everyone seemed to have enjoyed the ride. There were no problems and it lived up to expectations about seeing new places. A successful ride. What more can anyone ask for?
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