Road of Death (goes to Duns)


Something is killing the rabbits, pheasants, crows and hedgehogs. Cars probably. Saw more road-kill on this trip than ever before (although I did see two dead deer on the Gaick).

Another thing we saw rather too much of was water droplets propelled at us by a strongish westerly wind. (In one of the Calvin and Hobbs cartoons, Calvin's Dad tells Calvin that wind is caused by trees sneezing much to his Mum's amusement. He then admits that this was not true but that the real explanation was too complicated.) Nevertheless, the wind did serve a useful purpose of propelling us up in to the Lammermuir Hills.

Our route then took us up and down a series of hills. At one point Magda braked sharply and I ran into the back of her. The funny connector bit on my (soon to be upgraded to v-brakes) cantilever brakes then slipped. I had to spend 5 long cold minutes in the wind and rain with freezing fingers and two almost useless spanners fixing it enough to go down hills without resorting to walking (walking down hill ranks high in my Top 5 Demoralizing Cycling Strategies).

It should probably be noted that the scenery was beautiful in this part although I didn't take any photos because of the weather. As we approached Duns the sun came back, a rainbow formed and our smiling faces were seen once more. We warmed up in the Black Swan Inn and got ourselves a slap up dinner. Then we inquired about a room, and all thoughts of getting in the tent that night evaporated. For £20 each quid for B&B you can't complain. So we arranged our wet socks, shoes and gloves in front of an electric heater, drank beer, ate chocolate biscuits and watched Nicole Kidman in some kind of convoluted African political thriller. Well I did. Magda fell asleep.

Sunday started well (full english), got better (sunshine) and we pedaled back (on a slightly different route). Although the scenery was not as impressive as the moorland of the day before, there was lots to see. Coming up a steep hill by the Whiteadder Reservoir there was a great view out over the rolling hills. And once we had turned off toward Garvald there was a moment when North Berwick Law and the sea came in to view that was a cool sight.

We passed a few interesting cultural things too. We stopped at an Iron Age hill fort and then zoomed off down a hill past a monastery where the monks don't talk, to Garvald.
Pressing on to Haddington, I had my second roast dinner of the weekend in a pub by a row of trees each planted in commemoration of the coronation of all the kings of the last two centuries.

Post lunch the cycling was a bit drab, but we made good progress into a stiff headwind along the A199 back to Musselburgh. Then, on a bit of a hunch, we discovered a new shortcut back home. This followed the Brunstane Burn path, then a section of the NCN 1 route. This led us up to an interesting (but only if you are interested in these things) section of disused railway line. The so called Innocent Railway was built in 1830. It was one of the first railway lines and called innocent because the trains were at first horse-drawn. There was a 350 yard long tunnel (probably the first ever railway tunnel) built by Robert Stephenson up till then only famous for his lighthouses (and not to be confused with Robert Stephenson who built locomotives or Robert Stephenson who wrote stories).

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