23 May 2013

D2S1: Dunbar to St Mary's Loch

This is a Scottish Rhyming Coast-to-Coast: Dunbar to Stranraer, D2S. I'm doing it in the middle of my End to End to End to End ride (Land's End to John o'Groat's via the English End to End and the Scottish End to End). Well, what else is the point of being retired?

So, this morning I left Dunbar (picture). A friendly small town that acts as the administrative centre for the agricultural area and a dormitory town for Edinburgh, it's the home of John Muir, who established the conservation movement; Belhaven Brewery; a nuclear power station; a fishing harbour; and a cement factory. A mixed economy, I'd say.

By chance, the hundred-year-old herring boat The Reaper - Scotland's oldest working fishing boat (picture) - was in the harbour, and it was free to board and look round. In lieu of being able to dip my front wheel in the water, this seemed the best way to officially christen the ride. As for the herring, apparently there are none left. We've eaten them all.

After some humdrum scenery west of Dunbar, things suddenly got beautiful with the B709 from Heriot (picture). Lovely scenery, and the rare treat in Britain of a flat smooth road with virtally no traffic running through it. The final eight miles, thanks to a 20mph tailwind and consistently gentle gradient, were one of the best cycling downhills I've ever enjoyed: a steady 20mph freewheel winding down through the hills. Being chased by a monster raincloud borne by that same 20mph tailwind, which added a frisson.

The B709 continued in similar vein after the mountain bike centre of Innerleithen, and I camped at the Tibbie Shiels Inn at the end of St Mary's Loch, which is superbly scenic, and coincidentally has a pub of the same name next to it. There's a mad hen which wanted to get into my tent (picture) and apparently tries to board buses.

Miles today: 60
Miles since Dunbar: 60
Miles since starting at Penzance: 765

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