20th Anniversary Year

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Saturday 20 August 2022

In the wheel tracks of Logan

Although it was a week earlier on this occasion, the 20 Milers Extra ride to the Merryhatton Garden Centre has become a regular fixture for the last Saturday in August. As mentioned at the briefing, this ride remains as a lasting legacy to the stalwart of the group, Logan Strang. Can it really be five years since he passed away? It's a lovely route that meanders through the delightful East Lothian countryside. As Logan used to say with a wry smile, with the exception of one hill, it's relatively flat. Despite a weather forecast suggesting light rain until early afternoon, it was good to see a turn out of 18 riders. In the end, there were only a few spots of rain; but it was quite windy which was most noticeable on the return leg.

With the briefing over we left Fisherrow Harbour, crossed the River Esk by the Electric Bridge and headed to the track beside the sea wall. The track remains open, but the views are obscured by the fencing in the area - all part of the ongoing work on the flood defences. As a result, we had to nip onto the coast road and back onto the path to reach Prestonpans. The main road and new shared use path took us to Cockenzie Harbour and through quiet back streets and paths to avoid the main road as far as Seton Sands. The coast road wasn't too busy, and with a helping tail wind we were soon approaching Aberlady. The leader stopped at a gateway and gave the riders a choice - stay on the main road or take the unsurfaced path that winds through the trees alongside the road. The majority took the latter option, and we were soon on a quiet back road that bypassed Aberlady's busy high street. We were now on quiet roads passing typical East Lothian farm land. The county is one of contrasts. Many think only of its coastline and lovely beaches. But head inland (as we were doing) and there is delightful rolling farmland. It is then topped off by the bleak wilderness of the Lammermuir Hills. A further stretch of main road took us to Drem station, where we turned off and quiet roads took us to Merryhatton and our lunch stop. All but three of the group went to the garden centre café. The remaining three continued a short distance up the road and picnicked in the peace of the New Athelstaneford cemetery.

Despite grey skies and a spot or two of rain, the picnickers remained dry. We regrouped and headed past the Museum of Flight onwards to Athelstaneford. Pausing beside the church, we read the notice board explaining the supposed origin of the Scottish flag. Leaving the village behind, we were confronted by the obligatory headwind that seems to go with that stretch of road. We pressed on past the Hopetoun monument to be confronted with the only real climb of the day. Fortunately, the wind was now from the side.  A brief pause, a short stretch of flat road and it was payback time as we zoomed down a steep hill. Relatively straight and flat roads took us to the level crossing beyond Longniddry. The barriers were down, so we had to wait a few minutes before the train passed and they went up. Across the dual carriageway and onto the cycle path. We realised we were four riders down. It turned out they had taken the road into Longniddry rather than to the level crossing. A few minutes of waiting and they re-joined us. A short while later we were zooming down another hill to the sea in Port Seton, where we had a comfort stop. Our route back was the reverse of out outward one, but with a detour to pass the Prestongrange Museum. At the Electric Bridge, the leader declared the ride over. Some headed away for tea and cake, whilst the rest headed back to Fisherrow for the return journey to Edinburgh.

Once again the Extra ride to Merryhatton was a success. The weather stayed dry and was pleasant; shame about the wind, but it could have been a lot worse. Everyone seemed to enjoy the ride - which is what it's all about. Thank you Logan for leaving such a great ride as your legacy to the group.

Leader: Glenn

Report: Glenn

Photos: Glenn

Tuesday 16 August 2022

Merryhatton Extra this coming Saturday

We promised you two rides this month. We had the first of these last Saturday (see our previous post on this blog). The second one takes place this coming Saturday (20th). This will be one of our Extra rides, which are longer and faster than our usual runs.

For this ride, we will meet at Fisherrow Harbour in Musselburgh. Please be there in time for a 10:30 departure.

Glenn will be leading us into East Lothian, with a lunch stop at Merryhatton. The round-trip distance from the meeting point will be about 36 miles. Musselburgh is some seven miles from the city centre, so if you are coming from
central Edinburgh, your total mileage will be nearer 50. Please keep that in mind if you are more accustomed to our usual 20-mile runs. Inevitably, Saturday's ride will go at a faster pace, will have fewer stops and will finish later in the afternoon (probably towards 5 pm, but don't hold me to that).

The route

For much of the outward leg, we will follow the East Lothian coast road, which is an A-road and therefore possibly busy with traffic. But it has the advantage of being reasonably flat - not to mention having excellent views over the Firth of Forth. We'll turn inland at Aberlady, after which the roads will be quieter with just a few gentle hills.

The return leg will take us through Athelstaneford and past the Hopetoun Monument. This will also be on quiet roads, with a couple of moderately steep hills, before re-joining the coast road near Seton Sands. 

Lunch arrangements

Our lunch stop will be at the garden centre at Merryhatton. The restaurant there (which is now table service) offers a range of sandwiches, baked potatoes, a soup of the day and other snacks. The eating area is entirely under cover: there is no terrace or other open-air eating space.

For those of us who prefer to bring a packed lunch, we have identified a quiet spot for a picnic about half a mile from the garden centre. Note that there is limited seating there, so be prepared to sit on the grass if necessary. Picnickers can use the toilets at Merryhatton (there are also toilets at the meeting point, and we will have an additional comfort stop on the way home).

I think that covers everything - except to remind you to bring a spare inner tube in case of a puncture, as well as any tools needed to remove your wheel. And because it will be a long ride and with the recent high temperatures in mind, I advise you also bring plenty of water or other drink.

Sunday 14 August 2022

Meandering to Mortonhall

Today's outing was our second try at a route that we attempted in February 2020 but which we were forced to abandon because of the dangerous winds of Storm Clara. No such worries this time. The day was bright and sunny with just a gentle breeze. By the afternoon, the thermometer had reached a pleasant mid-twenties – thankfully escaping the ridiculously high temperatures being experienced elsewhere in the UK.

Seventeen of us assembled at the Meadows. Our leader, Alison, gave a comprehensive briefing, with warnings of several hills along the way. And then we set off, starting out on the familiar route over Bruntsfield Links and up to Hermitage Drive, and then through Braidburn Valley Park to Greenbank. This involved a fair bit of climbing: a taster for what was to come.

On leaving the park, we made a sharp left turn onto the Cockmylane Path. This is part of a traditional route known as "Robert Louis Stevenson's Road to Swanston and the Pentlands". Stevenson was born and brought up in the New Town, but his parents rented a holiday cottage in the old village of Swanston at the foot of the Pentland Hills. Our route today was the route that RLS supposedly took when travelling between home and cottage. Clearly Stevenson didn't use a bike; the steep rough path is more suited to walkers than cyclists. 

After a substantial climb, we emerged into Caiystane Drive, and then across Oxgangs Road and up Swanston Road to Swanston village. Although still heading up hill, we were now on a well-surfaced road. We stopped for a long-ish rest stop at the top of the village, amid the thatched cottages that give the area its picturesque appearance. (According to one source, these are now the only inhabited thatched buildings in the Lothians.) Some of the group wanted to know where RLS's cottage was. Unfortunately, this is not visible from the village, being at the end of a track on the far side of the farm steadings.

The rest stop over, we headed eastward along another track – very rough but at least it was level - which emerged at the main road at Lothianburn. We now had to deal with two tricky road crossings, these being the busy slip roads leading onto and off the City Bypass. Our leader did a good job of shepherding us across these without incident. 

Our next leg took us through the Winton Estate. This has no connection with the estate of Winton Castle near Pencaitland (which we sometimes pass through when cycling in East Lothian), but is a modern housing estate named for the family of the wife of the owner of the land in the 1930s. We paused briefly to look at a much older house on the edge of the estate. Thanks to some instant on-line research by one of the group, we discovered that this was the 18th Century Morton House, part of the Mortonhall Estate. 

Speaking of which, after a nice downhill run along Frogston Road, we were soon at our lunch stop at the Mortonhall Garden Centre. A few of the group headed for the restaurant inside the centre, while others elected to picnic outside in the sun. 


After lunch, we regained Frogston Road, where it was obvious that something was very wrong with the traffic, with cars backed up in both directions as far as the eye could see. It turned out that this was the result of wildfires on the City Bypass at Straiton. (Wildfires in Edinburgh? Whatever next?) Of course, traffic jams don't bother us. With a certain amount of schadenfreude we were able to whiz past the stationary cars to quickly reach the traffic lights at Burdiehouse Road and Captain's Road.

The next stage was a very pleasant mile or so through Burdiehouse Burn Valley Park, along a well-surfaced path with just a few gentle ups and downs. This was followed by a short stretch though Ellen's Glen and into Gilmerton Road. We continued past the Inch Park, then along the edge of Craigmillar Castle Park and on to the familiar Innocent Path and so back to the Meadows. 

Thanks to Alison for leading us on such a delightful route. Thanks also to Ken for stepping up to back mark at short notice. At 16 miles, it was not exactly a long ride, but with the initial hills and the rough paths it was just enough of a challenge to make it a worthwhile day out – and a most enjoyable one.

Leader: Alison 

Report and photos: Mike

Monday 8 August 2022

Two rides for August


We've got two rides in the pipeline for the next couple of weeks: one short and one long. Here are the details.

Saturday 13 August: Southern outskirts

For this coming Saturday, Alison will be leading us on an attractive route through the southern outskirts of the city. Our route will include the Cockmylane path, the old village of Swanston, the Winton Estate and Burdiehouse Burn Valley Park.

The mileage will be a little less than the nominal twenty miles. But be warned that there will be several hills, including a couple of fairly steep ones. There will also be several stretches on rough tracks. But we will take these difficulties at our usual steady pace, and cheerfully wait for stragglers.

Our lunch stop will be in the Mortonhall Estate, This is a good spot for a picnic, so feel free to bring a packed lunch. Toilets are available in the garden centre. If you prefer to eat indoors, the Topiary Restaurant offers a good selection of soup, sandwiches and light meals.

The ride will start at our usual meeting point at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. We will set out at 10:30, and aim to arrive back at the Meadows around mid-afternoon.

Saturday 20 August: East Lothian

The following Saturday will see our third Extra of the season. These rides are faster than our usual "second Saturday" runs and have fewer stops. For this run, we will meet in Musselburgh, then head into East Lothian, with a lunch stop at the Merryhatton garden centre. The round trip distance from Musselburgh will be 36 miles (but keep in mind that Musselburgh is about seven miles from the city centre, so if you are starting from town, your total distance will be closer to 50 miles).

I'll post more details of this ride's meeting time and place, route and lunch arrangements early next week.

Please keep in mind ...

... that any information that we circulate in advance about any of our rides should be regarded as provisional. We occasionally need to make last-minute changes to the route or the lunch arrangements according to conditions on the day and other factors. However, the meeting time and place will always remain as advertised.

That's all for now. I hope to see you on one or more of our rides.