That’s a woeful scorecard isn’t it. A terrible effort. The home team was definitely the winner and the visitors got a flogging.
We pedalled off into the Edinburgh streets this morning, weaving and whizzing through the peak hour Friday morning traffic. The sky was grey but it was mild and humid, so it felt like good weather for riding. We took another National Cycle Network route and followed the number 1 and 76 which had us off road along cycle paths that were fantastic. We had a coastal route that took us along the foreshore, then through woodland and villages and beside rivers. It was lovely.
We rode into the village of Cramond and the path took us beside the Almond River and its picturesque waterfall. There were ruins beside the river, of what we aren’t sure, but it all looked beautiful.
It was beside the waterfall though, that the path gave us a slight hiccup…
…not a barrier this time, just stairs on a cycle route. Nope, we thought, we are not going through the rigmarole of lugging heavy bikes up stairs again, so we did an about-turn and headed back to the road.
We were soon able to join the path again and it continued to deliver some perfect scenes. We rode into an estate, where the path went through the grounds and up toward the huge, stately manor house. We rode through the estate where sheep were grazing free range and wandering about, then we continued down dirt paths through narrow tree lined tracks. It was so excellent.
Then, it was time to cross the river – the Firth of Forth. The road was a really busy A road full of trucks and lorries, but thankfully there was a designated bike and pedestrian path than ran beside it. The bridge seemed to go on forever and when we stopped at the top, we started bouncing up and down! The volume of traffic was so great, that the bridge was constantly vibrating really strongly and bouncing up and down, so we stood with our bikes getting and extra little ride out of the bridge…an up and down one!
We whizzed down the other side of the bridge and pedalled on through towns and woodland. We stopped in the small village of Dalgety Bay for elevenses and it was then, that the grey skies turned to wet skies. We had just sat down when the rain began. I reached for the trusty blue coat and we sat in the damp to have a quick snack. “I’m beginning to change my mind about riding,” said Steve, “I’m thinking we should get a van to see Scotland.” We discussed this back and forth for a while, looking at the weather and what to do. “I’m just over the weather,” Steve continued, “it’s summer and I want to be in shorts and a tshirt!” We “ummed and aahed” about what to do, but in the end decided to stick with our plan and ride on.
The coastal path took us high above the coastline, beside a golf course and we had spectacular views.
Then…something really special. We were riding along a quiet path through a forest, with Steve in the lead and me behind, when I saw something on the path ahead of Steve. “Deer on the path!” I called, “deer up ahead!” There it was…a beautiful little deer standing right in the middle of the path. We stopped and it stood and looked at us, then wandered off into the woods. It’s always pretty special to see a deer in the wild and to have one right there in front of us was quite amazing.
We rode into the village of Aberdour and saw a nice little sensory garden with picnic tables that seemed the perfect place to stop for lunch, after 39km of pedalling. We had just sat down and spread out our bits and pieces on the table, when…the rain really came down. We jumped up, snatched up our victuals and sought refuge in a nearby bus shelter. As we usually do at lunchtime, we began doing some research about where we might stay and how much further we’d ride to get to our destination. The rain continued to fall. We could ride on in the rain, although pitching a tent was seeming a less likely option, so we would still need to find a hotel in a town up ahead, or we could stay where we were. These are the moments that I don’t like, where we just have to find somewhere and we don’t have much choice, just out of necessity, so we end up staying anywhere regardless of what it’s like or what it costs, just because we have to. We tossed around ideas and thoughts about what we should do. The rain continued to fall. Finally Steve said, “That’s it! I’m over the weather! Let’s just stay here and let’s get a van.” The weather had finally won. It’s not that riding in the rain is so bad, it’s just that we’ve had such constantly awful weather for so much of the trip that it’s finally taking a toll. We want to be able to enjoy Scotland and not be always looking at the weather and wondering how far we’ll be able to ride and whether we’ll get stuck for somewhere to stay because we’ve had to stop somewhere unintended to shelter from the weather. So the plan is, we’ll hire a van for a while, so the bikes can go in the back and we can also sleep in it, so we can get back to camping and not be stuck in hotels all the time. We’ll use it as a shelter, so when the weather is bad we’ll drive and if it’s fine, we’ll leave the van at a campsite and do some day rides on the bike, with a base to come back to. That’s the idea for now.
Decision made, we walked back down the hill to a hotel we had just ridden past and found a room. The lady at reception was lovely and very friendly and found a spot in the laundry out the back for the bikes. She said, “Are you getting out of the weather?”
“Yes,” said Steve.
“It’s even getting to us,” she said, “it’s not usually this bad, but it’s been really bad all through May and June.”
So I guess it’s not just us. The weather is actually unusually awful and even the locals have had enough! It must be us, we must be jinxed with that bad weather attracting superpower!
So we are sheltering again in a hotel. The rain got heavier, but we still ventured out for a walk through the village and it’s a nice little place.
I’m feeling quite bad about us deciding to drive for a while. I feel like we’re not doing what we’re supposed to be doing. I feel like we’ve let the side down. It will let us make some better progress and we won’t have the weather dictating things so much and we’ll still get to ride the bikes, so I guess we made the right decision. I just feel bad about doing it. So tomorrow we may be on four wheels instead of two and we’ll continue exploring the north of Scotland. What we’ve seen so far is beautiful, so I have no doubt it will continue to delight and deliver some special sights and moments. I’m just sorry it won’t all be seen from the seat of a bike. Oh well, these are the dilemmas of touring I guess. Sigh…