A ride on NCN 1

NCN 1 is a near 1700 mile cycle path from Dover to the Shetland Islands.  On a mix of traffic free paths and on road surfaces the signed route follows the East coast connecting the major towns and cities and passing through some stunning coastal scenery.

I took myself along to the train station and travelled to the ex RAF now Army base of Leuchars this is the station that serves St Andrews and is a busy little place especially this close to the Open Golf Champs.

Using quiet country roads I reached the Tay road bridge and started across the bridge on the elevated central carriageway.  A little unnerving with traffic whizzing by on both sides!

Dundee is a city that is undergoing a lot of change one of which is visible from the bridge the new V & A museum due to open later this year.

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There is a lift at the north end of the bridge large enough to easily accommodate 2 or 3 cycles.  The lift takes you down to ground level and the Quayside and NCN1.

The route is well signed and even with ongoing works and diversions was easy to follow.  The route takes you through the dock area with some staggered barriers and two security gates to negotiate.

Once through the dock area you are alongside the north side of the Tay, looking south you can see the north coast of Fife.

DSCF2350I was soon in Broughty Ferry “The Ferry” to locals and was passing by the impressive castle.  Completed in 1495 the Castle has had a long and colourful history and was being adapted even up to the second world war to defend the mouth of the Tay.

DSCF2351After The Ferry comes the village of Monifeith and then back onto dedicated cycle path to Carnoustie.  This was the site of several diversions due to the Open Golf but once past them its back onto dedicated cycle path again lovely smooth easy rolling tarmac a joy to cycle on.

Approaching the fishing village of East Haven  I decided to stop for a quick bite to eat and head back to Dundee on the A92 cycle path an undulating traffic free path alongside the A92. I used the path to avoid the diversions through Carnoustie on my return route.

Once back in Carnoustie I retraced my steps back to Leuchars and the end of an enjoyable outing on NCN1.

A total of 51 miles with 1700 feet of ascent a really enjoyable ride.

 

 

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A Mini Adventure (Thirty six hours with SBT.)

Due to a set of fortuitous circumstances I found myself with two totally free days and set out to make the best of them.

I set myself two major objectives 1.Climb a Munro (a Scottish mountain over 3000ft)

2. Cycle an iconic Scottish route.

I set off for the North west of Scotland at 0700 and although it was a working day for everyone else missed the majority of the rush hour traffic.  I was parked up at Coulags and ready to climb the munro by 1130.  The munro, Maol Chean-Dearg, looked amazing in the sunlight and was beset by other “baggers”.

 

A small munro at 3061 feet I had negotiated the easy lower slopes, the higher rock fields and made my way back to the car by 1730.

I was staying in a Youth Hostel in Applecross which meant a drive across the amazing Bealach na Ba.  To quote Wikipedia “Bealach na Bà is a winding, single track road through the mountains of the Applecross peninsula, in Wester Ross in the Scottish Highlands. The historic mountain pass was built in 1822 and is engineered similarly to roads through the great mountain passes in the Alps, with very tight hairpin bends that switch back and forth up the hillside and gradients that approach 20%. It boasts the steepest ascent of any road climb in the UK, rising from sea level at Applecross to 626 metres, and is the third highest road in Scotland. ”  You may have guessed by now that this was the second item on my list.

I had a good nights sleep in the hostel aided no doubt by the fact that none of us in room snored!

I planned on doing the Applecross loop 44 miles of single track tarmac with 4400 feet of ascent , 2000+ of which is the climb up from Applecross.  The road winds and undulates it’s way through amazing countryside with views of mountains, beaches and forests following you around all the way.  A very hot day was forecast so I rode my Ridley Orion Team with a small backpack and bladder.  The road rises even before you leave the village and basically does not stop going up until you reach the car park at the summit.  The road was not busy when I left, 0830, but as the day wore on the traffic became more frequent due in part to the Peninsula being part of the North Coast 500.

The ascent down the other side was exhilarating, scary, fast and ear popping.  Strava gave my top speed as 40mph!  20180530_103522

At the bottom I turned left and continued around the loop.  Although the Bealach is the biggy there are plenty other lumps along this road 2400 feet of them to be exact.  The route is what I call an OOOOO and AAAAA route every corner you turn there is a better view than the one you just went by.

 

The temperature was rising and the level in my camelback was falling when I happened upon this little oasis of rehydration and refuelery!  Oh and the Amazing flapjacks were!!

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The final ascent and approach to the hostel crowned a magnificent day.

A quick pit stop load the bike back on the car and I was off and heading for home.

I arrived at 1855 just less than 36 hours after I had left.

So the next time you have 36 hours what will you do………….

 

 

“Off” season at Scottish Bike Touring.

It has been a little while since I posted but that does not mean that I have not been busy.

All of my bikes got a good clean and going over at the end of November with my Ridley Orion road bike ending up on the turbo.  Happy to say that there were no problems with my bikes just another year of scrapes and bumps.

I decided that my website was looking a bit tired so decided to give that a makeover.  Not being used to sitting at a desk for hours on end I broke the work into manageable chunks stopping when required.  I have had good constructive feedback from some viewers so please feel free to log on to http://www.scottishbiketouring.com and give me more feedback.  The site is still undergoing some work but you should be able to navigate through it ok.

As well as the website I was going over the rides on offer and decided to revamp some of them and introduce some new ones.

Two new offers are city and off road bespoke tours in and around Edinburgh.  I was asked to do this last year by a client and it was a really good ride.  Built to the clients requirements this can be as long or short as the client requires and take in a lot of sights.

Another new tour is based totally in Fife.  The Outlander Fife locations tour.  I have been riding this during the holidays and watching the series for background.  This tour can be done in two ways either as a normal point to point tour or as a “Hub” tour returning to the same accommodation each day.

Hopefully it will not be so long before my next post.

 

TTFN

An Aussie odyssey

In late September my website rec’d a hit from an Australian web address.  I replied but it got bounced back.

I had another hit same name different e mail once more it got bounced back.

There was a phone number so I gave it a call and spoke to Kelvin in Australia!

He was coming to Europe and would be in Edinburgh for four days and he wanted to spend one of them visiting the Falkirk wheel!

We agreed a date for a tour and also that he would call to confirm date and time when he arrived.

A call was made and a date and time set.  We set off for the Falkirk Wheel at 1000 on the 6th October and after negotiating the Edinburgh traffic we arrived at the Canal basin and the beginning of the Union Canal Path to the Falkirk Wheel.

Kel was from Sydney and a Primary school teacher and keen to learn some local history as well as having a bike ride.  We came through the final tunnel and as soon as Kel saw the top of the wheel he let out a whoop.  The next hour his body may have been in the café but his mind was outside and as soon as the wheel started operating he was out looking at the wheel.

After food and drink and a final look at the wheel we headed back t Edinburgh.

Kel had really enjoyed his ride almost 70 miles and although the Union canal is a contour canal we recorded over 2000 ft of climb.

 

SBT does the Five Ferries

Start timeThe Five Ferries is an iconic Scottish road cycle on the west coast of Scotland.

Regarded by many as a one day challenge and indeed run as a challenge in one of it’s guises, the Five Ferries is a approx 100 miles long, you travel on Five Ferries, two islands and 3 peninsulas.

There are a number of ways to cycle this route my preference is to start at Ardrossan and get the ferry to Arran and head south around the bottom of the island.  Arran has a spectacular coastline and it is laid out before you as you head around the island.  This is the longest cycle leg with the most climb and is an ideal stopping point if you want to do the ride over 2 days rather than 1.Climb from Brodick

Ferry number 2 takes you from Arran to the Kintyre peninsula and a ride north to the village of Tarbert an ideal lunch stop.  You have cycled 50 miles by this point and climbed almost 4000 ft!  Alas if the group speed is not sufficient to build a cushion its no lunch and straight on Ferry No 3 to Portavadie and the Kyles of Bute.Tarbert

If you would like some luxury rooms for an overnight stay this is the place!  This is the third cycle leg and the scenery is just awesome.  You cycle round the Kyles of Bute to board ferry No 4 at Colintraive travelling to the Island of Bute.  A short fast 8 miles sees you in Rothesay for the final ferry to Wemyss Bay and the final ride to Ardrossan.

This is not an easy one day ride and the added pressure of ferries to catch with the chance that they might be cancelled for one reason or the other makes it an adrenalin raising ride!

There is plenty to see on this tour I would recommend that you take your time and take the two day tour and as I said there are a number of ways to do this ride it can be shortened reducing the 100 miles to something more like 80.

 

 

 

 

Waterways C2C (West coast)

Possibly the shortest and easiest C2C route in the country starting at Bowling to the west of Glasgow and stretching across Central Scotland to Leith this is a relitively flat route almost exclusively on Canal or cycle paths.

I alighted from the train on a bright and dry morning to begin the exploration of the route from Bowling to Leith.  Today I was stopping at Falkirk as I have already done the Falkirk to Leith leg before.  At the basin in Bowling there is a bike shop and a cafe and the start of the route.​

​The surface is tarmaced and in good condition and makes for pleasent cycling.  The first points of interest on the route are the Dalmuir drop lock, the first in the UK and the Beardmore sculpture.

The canal winds it’s way through Knightswood, Kelvnside and Bishopbriggs finally leaving Glasgow and heading for Kirkintilloch and Kilsyth.  Wildlife is rife along the canal I saw these two just lazing around by the bank!

I made my way past Auchinstarry Basin the surface still in great condition towards Bonnybridge and Falkirk.   I stopped for lunch at the wheel and made my way to the station and back to Fife.

A great ride this part of the C2C. Was 31 miles with 1000 ft of climb.

Tay Bridge to Carnoustie

I parked up in the car park at the south end of the Tay Bridge.  A lovely sunny day with a slight westerly wind which would mean a helping hand on the way home.

Carol and I got the bikes unloaded and headed out on NCN 1 and across the Tay Road Bridge.  This bridge is unusual in that the cycle and pedestrian way is raised in the middle rather than on the side.  We headed north with traffic rushing by on both sides.  At the north end we got in the lift and once at ground level headed for the silvery Tay.  We were’nt alongside it for long however before being directed away from the river and into an industrial/commercial estate which leads into the docks.  The cycle path goes straight through the docks and emerges at Stannergate.

Once more alongside the Tay travelling on a well surfaced path.  You can see Broughty Castle in the distance.

NCN 1 takes you past the castle and along Broughty Ferry esplanade to Balmossie and Monifeith.  After Monifeith you are on Barry Links, owned by the MOD and still in use today.  As we approached we could see red flags flying and heard gunfire as live firing is conducted on ranges on the links.  It wasn’t long and we were sitting in Franco’s cafe enjoying a light lunch before retracing our steps back.

A great wee ride of 26 miles with 500 feet of climb all on well surfaced cycle path.