Day 9

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Origin:        Lockerbie
Destination:   North Queensferry
Waypoints:     Moffat, Biggar, Livingston
Lunch:         bagged from Jack and Rachel's Tea Room in Moffat, and eaten en route
Accommodation: it was complicated in our case, but there are nice B&Bs in North Queensferry
Cake:          no cake
Dinner:        at the DoubleTree by Hilton “Edinburgh” hotel (in North Queensferry)
Google Maps
Distance:      82.5mi
Ascent:        2717ft by Google

At breakfast, a nice man called Gary, who was also a hardened cyclist (he was in town to compete in a race, if I remember) gave some reassurance that our chosen route through Scotland via the Cairngorms was the right choice, in contrast to the traditional route, via Glencoe on the A82. “The A82 is a horrible road,” opined Gary.

Heading out of Lockerbie on the dreaded B7076, we again did the opposite of Sustrans and escaped it as soon as we could, onto the unclassified road through Dinwoodie Mains which leads the back way into Moffat. In the picturesque town centre we bumped into the same man who'd given us restaurant advice in the centre of Lockerbie the previous evening. We also picked up a bagged lunch from a cafe, since out of Moffat there are no shops on the route for many miles.

From here we're back onto a major but not busy road, the A701, on its “famous” scenic climb up to Eric Stane. This was again a steady, manageable climb but fairly effortful; a group of climb-fanatic road-bikers out for a Sunday ride passed us and cheerily remarked “that's the way to do it—slow and steady” while they hared on past on their self-punishing way. There's an equally long downhill on the other side, making for some satisfyingly free and fast miles which continue to be scenic. We continued on the A701 through Tweedsmuir (a location swhich I've a feeling was also our roadside lunch stop, though am not sure), before a welcome change of pace when turning left at Broughton towards Biggar, which is not quite as small as the preceding two places. There is the option of taking or bypassing the centre of Biggar; I've a feeling we did the latter (as shown here), down North Back Road before wiggling right, towards (again) the B7016, which rolls for some miles pleasantly on until Carnwath (where we stopped for supplies).

Out of Carnwath there is a brief stretch along the A70, which I had my usual A-road worries about. But, common to the general theme, it was very quiet and actually quite pleasant, although a bit of a climb. (Caveat: the quietness might have been because the A70 was closed a little way beyond.) It's not too long until the left turn out onto the minor Calla Road. This is pleasant although straightens out after a while, leading to the occasional whooshingly fast traffic going past. In a foresty section, we take a right turn onto a backroads route into Livingston.

The route through Livingston is a bit of a blur; it was very much Garmin-navigated and involved lots of twists and turns along “cycle paths” threaded in between housing cul-de-sacs and the like. This off-roading certainly wasn't necessary if we'd plumped for A-roads instead, and perhaps wasn't advisable, but it's hard to say. It wasn't that bad really, quality-wise, so I've left it in the route. The main trick seems to be crossing over the A899 on a high bridge to get down into Mid Calder From there the roads get fairly normal again, taking a right through the village with its nice stone buildings and parkland, before our left towards Pumpherston. The road is pleasant enough, perhaps slightly busier and/or hillier than ideal but not at all bad. We pass straight through Pumpherston without incident, thne down, down, past Uphall station and under the M8 and onwards to Uphall, where it's a right turn at the roundabout and then left in the village centre, before out into more open country and a peek at the three Forth bridges all in a row.

The new Forth road bridge had not yet opened on our visit, but was built, all shiny and new. As we approach, there are some nice gently undulating country roads, the soil getting a little sandier, Another village right-left awaits, in Winchburgh, before the final assault on the bridges. The new bridge did cause us a bit of confusion on our approach, over the sadly-already-open A904 roundabout with its depressingly poor quality “cycle lanes”. We also rode along some bits of technically-not-yet-open approach roads (which were super-smooth and motor-free).

Sadly there is a bit more A904 to go until the bridge approach. From the roundabout, we took the western bridge approach, which was the closest, but this was almost certainly a mistake. After the slip-road down, our taken “cycle route” peeled off to the left. However, a sign soon informed us that the western cycleway was closed, and we had to take a subway, complete with steps, under to the east side. Much annoying bike-manhandling was required. Perhaps taking the eastern approach would have avoided this. It's not obvious how to cycle down to get there (since the eastern slip road is “the wrong way”) but it also looks like access is possible from Ferrymuir Gait, on the way down to the Forth Road Bridge Car Park. So, although we didn't do this, that's what the route shows.

Another reason for showing this is that on the other side, some similarly tremendous efforts were required, including humping our bikes down some steps to sidestep us off the bridge down to to North Queensferry and our would-be lodgings below. To avoid this humping would mean going a fair way further, up to a big roundabout and back down. In the route as given, I've sidestepped this question too, by simply ending the day's route at the top of those steps. If you want to get down to North Queensferry with your bike and all, you have the unenviable choice of the steps or the extra distance up to the roundabout and back down.

The houses down in North Queensferry have an amazing view of the Firth of Forth... it's a surprisingly tranquil spot.

There followed a hilarious episode about a mix-up with our B&B booking. Suffice to say all was well that ended well. North Queensferry is not really a dining destination, but we met with a friend of J's (plus bonus family members) at the not-usually-my-scene hotel nearby, where dinner was rather nice.

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Content updated at Wed 22 Jan 21:01:00 GMT 2020.
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