At the third attempt, the planned ride to Musselburgh finally happened today. What should have been the opening 20 Milers ride of 2016 fell victim to treacherously icy conditions in January. Unbelievably, the same fate befell it in February. It was such a relief to have dry and sunny, if still slightly cool weather for today's ride. With the promise of some hidden gems and a chance to explore some little known parts of the Honest Toun, 23 riders assembled at the start. It was nice to see some new faces amongst the regulars. We left the Meadows in one group and made our way to the Innocent Railway via the superb new cycle track that makes getting out of town so much easier. We followed the familiar route to Newcraighall, where we joined the newly resurfaced road towards Fort Kinnaird, turning off and taking the cycle path to Musselburgh station. There then followed a meander through the unfamiliar residential streets of Stoneybank. Fortunately these streets caused no problems for the leader as this was his own backyard. Emerging beside the River Esk, most riders knew where they were once again. We carried on, crossing the foot bridge over the River Esk and made our way past the entrance to Musselburgh racecourse. After a short stretch on the busy Linkfield Road, we turned right through imposing gate posts into Windsor Gardens. A stone's throw from the racecourse, we were greeted by the lovely St Anne's Convent. This lovely building (now an old people's home) is set in a lovely square with houses that is reminiscent of an English cathedral close. After a short pause to enjoy the view, we rode round the square and made our way into the back entrance of Lewisvale Park. We climbed an interesting zig-zag path, rode around the playing field before coming out in the village of Inversk. A delightful old road that is now a foot and cycle path took us over the main East Coast railway line and on to the edge of Wallyford. We passed the historic site of the Battle of Pinkie Fields and made our way to our lunch stop, a pub just outside Whitecraig.
There was plenty of room to accommodate the whole group. Sufficiently refreshed, we made our way to the Grove and followed the Esk back to Musselburgh. Retracing part of our outward route, we made our way to Fisherrow Harbour. From there we crossed the main Edinburgh Road and made our way through the quiet back streets of the Newhailes housing estate. Another route that was unfamiliar to many; we exited back onto the main road through a gate in the wall. We soon left the main road behind and took the pleasant Brunstane Burn path to emerge at Brunstane station. From here we followed the familiar route back to the Innocent Railway to return to the start. On this stretch, Sustrans were doing a survey about usage of the path with many in the group stopping to complete it.
It was good to have some nice weather; even if it could have been a little warmer. Everyone seemed to enjoy the ride and today's route was something of an eye opener to those that thought they knew Musselburgh. Finding hidden gems and exploring lesser known parts, the Honest Toun certainly gave up some of its secrets.
Map trace: Jim
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