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Day 9 - Unthank to Edinburgh             Weather icon, click for today's weather in this location Today's weather in Unthank

Sunday 7 May 2006

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Map of eighth day of route, click to go to interactive map

Route Description

Cranking up the mileage now - a hard day north to Edinburgh through the borders. Phil from Freetime has promised me a tow for the first bit, and John (brother-in-law) will be doing the stretch from Peebles.

Will be ready for a welcome night's rest at my sister and brother-in-law's!


Route map.

Mileage: 103

Cycling time: 6 hours 28 mins

Average speed: 15 mph

Top speed: 34.9 mph

Start to finish time: 9 hours 25 minutes

Worst hill: doing the same one twice!

High point: 1,230ft

Mileage to date: 698

Route finding and rain

Today started with a mini temper tantrum! It is funny how over the course of a week, a little routine has established itself and when my speedo refused to behave first thing, it threw me. Worse, when trying to sort it out and transfer a battery in from one of my lights, I was rushing and managed to blank its memory and reset the wheel sizing. Grrr. However, accompanied by Dad and cousin Victoria, we were soon in Carlisle having made good time on the excellent cycle track from Dalston.

It was in Carlisle that we met up with Phil Tinning, owner of Freetime and provider of the SIS energy drinks I have become a slave to, and his friend Paul. After the traditional photos, we were soon heading north for Longtown and the Scottish border.

It was on this first stretch that we came upon Matt and Will who we got chatting to and it turned out had set off from Land's End on the same day as me! Although following a slightly different route, it was great to share experiences as we cycled along. And when Paul announced that he knew a short cut that would take us off the A7 and onto more pleasant country roads, Matt and Will decided to continue with us. However, after a few miles they were ready for some food so stopped and bid us a happy journey to Eskdalemuir and the cafe where we were sure to come across them again.

As promised, the roads were a delight...single track, well tarred country roads with no traffic at all and we made good progress. Too good perhaps! We came across a junction, at which my instinct said it was time to be turning north again. However, Paul thought onward on the same road looked more familiar and Phil concurred...so on we went. After by about 2.5 miles I was convinced that we were now getting far too near Lockerbie and were definitely heading west, perhaps even slightly south!!! After questioning a driver who suggested continuing to Lockerbie and turning to Eskdalemuir there, we agreed to head back to the fateful junction and try the other road. Sure enough, once turned off there was a sign to Eskdalemuir just around the corner! Through slightly gritted teeth I replied to Paul's apology "Don't worry, what's 5 miles extra when you're doing 1,000!"

Now sure that we were on the right road, we could really enjoy the beautiful scenery as the soft hills of the Scottish borders rose ahead of us. It wasn't long before we were in Eskdalemuir, just as the rain started to fall gently - aha, that's why the hills are soft! The Tibetan tea room at the Kagyu Samye Ling buddhist monastery was a welcome, if unexpected sight. Tea and carrot cake beckoned.

After 3/4 hour stop, during which time the rain really came down in buckets, we were starting to think that Matt and Will had perhaps gone straight on past the cafe. However, just as we were getting back on our bikes, in they rolled looking very wet and rather bad tempered. "We got sooooo lost!" was Will's opening comment...followed quickly by "lesson learned - never follow random cyclists who take you off your own route." Oooops. Hearty apologies to you both if you read this. I hope you got well fueled up at the cafe for the rest of your day and that the remainder of your trip goes well - do get in touch.

Although the rain had lessened, it never really gave up completely for the rest of the leg to Peebles. This was 36 miles with three long hill sections. They were all good to climb and on one of the descents, I was treated to the sight of a huge bird of prey passing right in front of me. It is most likely to have been a buzzard but, as I thought it looked considerably bigger, it may have been a golden eagle - there are some in the area.

As Peebles finally came into view, my legs were running on empty and after an excited greeting from my nephew, Lewis, I wolfed down the sandwich that my waiting sister and brother-in-law Jenny and John had got for me while I waited for Paul and Phil. They too were into the red, energy wise...it had been a sapping 75 miles.

John was to cycle with us for the rest of the route into Edinburgh and we soon settled in to a draughting formation, taking in turns to battle the strengthening head wind. I have to say, I was quite relieved to see the familiar slope of the Hill End dry ski slope which is where Phil and Paul were to be picked up and taken back to Cumbria.

As John and I completed the last couple of miles to into Shandon, I was delighted to be met by my German friends Sascha and Jana and even Lewis got to cycle the last mile home!

I write tonight having been superbly fed by my sister. Her culinary triumph may well prove to be best cake of the trip...

Cake Review - Buddhist carrot cake. Tasty, well spiced and with good icing, could have been slightly more moist! - 7 out of 10. Apple and hazelnut cake. Iced with chocolate cream and with a hint of cinnamon, this was moist flavour heaven. Have had to adjust the rating system slightly - 11 out of 11.

Dalston cycle track

With Phil, Paul, Dad and Victoria in Carlisle

Are we on the wrong road yet? - with Matt and Will

Soft border hills

Himalayas in the borders

Tibetan Tea Rooms

Excited nephew Lewis in Peebles

With Phil, Paul and John after a long day

"You're not pedaling, Daddy!"

Lewis tries on his Cyclaid t-shirt

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