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Saturday 10 May 2014

Into the depths of East Lothian

Today's run was a very pleasant 27-mile excursion into East Lothian. It included a section of route which was completely new to me - and to most of the others in the group as well.

Twenty-one riders turned up at the start. That was a pretty good turnout, considering that the forecast had promised a day of solid rain. (In the event, we just had some light drizzle in the morning and one short heavy shower while we were in the pub.) Glenn Brearly led the first group, with Peter Bennet in charge of the second.

Heading out of town, we avoided the well-worn route along the Innocent Path. Instead, we wiggled through St Leonard's (with excellent views of Salisbury Crags from the little-known St. Leonard's Bank), Duddingston Village and Calvary Park. At Bingham, we picked up NCN 1, which took us through Newcraighall and Whitecraig, and on to the Pencaitland Railway Path.

This path offers excellent cycling. It is wide, well-surfaced and almost completely flat. But after a couple of miles, we made an abrupt left turn, leaving the main path and heading up a short flight of steps and onto a diminutive track. I had never noticed this un-signposted turn-off before, although I must have cycled past it a dozen times.

The next two miles or so were narrow and somewhat muddy. But we only had to dismount a couple of times. At one point, we passed a tiny cemetery, completely surrounded by fields, with no human habitation or road access in sight. We then crossed a main road, and continued along the path, eventually emerging onto tarmac close to a familiar site: Falside Castle.

This was a bit of a surprise. The castle (which is in fact a private house) is near the summit of Falside Hill. At 144 metres, this is the highest point in the area. Approaching it by road (which is what we have done in the past) involves a grindingly steep ascent. This time, we had somehow managed to get there without the difficult climb, which I thought was pretty good.

So, now we had a delightful mile or so of free-wheeling off the hill. This took us quickly to our lunch stop, which was the Premier Inn near Whitecraig. This hotel has a large eating area and bar, and was able to feed and water us without any problem.

For the homeward leg, we followed the River Esk Walkway (one of my favourite routes) right up to the waterfront path in Musselburgh. We then took the Brunstane Burn path to Brunstane Station, and so back to our starting point via the Innocent Tunnel and East Parkside.

By this time, the rain had completely cleared. Most of us went for a coffee in Peter's Yard, where we were able to sit at an outside table in bright sunshine: a pleasant end to another successful ride. Thanks to those who led and back-marked - and kudos to Glenn for devising such an interesting route.

Leaders: Glenn and Peter
Report and map: Mike

View East Lothian ride - 10 May 2014 in a larger map

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