Sunday, 30 June 2013

Surly LHT eating up the miles out of Edinburgh.

I have lots of photos from this ride and could put together a huge post. I edited a lot out and published it on the 29th. After reading it again I decided it was still too rambling so I've edited more and tried to concentrate on the cycling.

Friday 28th June and a day off work so I pedaled to Dunbar railway station and caught the 09:56 to Edinburgh Waverley.

Half an hour later and I am deposited with the Surly Long Haul Trucker in the Capital City of Scotland.  The clouds are dank, the rain is trickling down the back of my neck, all my photos have to be overexposed to get any sense of contrast. Welcome to summer in Edinburgh.

Above is the Scott Monument. It is a 60m high Gothic memorial to Sir Walter Scott. One of our wee country's greatest authors and, along with Queen Victoria, instrumental in the tartan kitsch that many think is the sole attribute of Scotland.

I carried on along Princes Street with the castle looming above, then turned up Lothian Road on to Morrison St to get to the Lochrin Basin at the Union Canal.

This area has changed dramatically over the last few years and there seems to be a concerted effort to redevelop the waterfront into a leisure facility. They're doing a good job.

Onward bumping along the cobbles and I was soon on the smooth towpath which made cycling into the westerly wind a lot more bearable.

This route out of Edinburgh was a revelation to me and I will have to make time to follow the complete towpath to Glasgow.

I was still in the heart of the city but it was quite tranquil with ducks and moorhens paddling past, and swallows skimming the water searching for insects.

The Slateford Aqueduct was memorable for being 60ft up in the air with a very narrow cobbled path. I decided to submit to sense, and the advice on the signs, and pushed the LHT across.

The smooth surface made for easy (and speedy) cycling through the bandit country of Wester Hailes and on across the Edinburgh City By-pass.

Why anyone would pay one shilling and sixpence to go to Falkirk is beyond me!

After a slow start through the city, I had made good time along to Ratho. Unfortunately for a couple of miles before Ratho the path is quite rough and is really only suitable for hybrid or mtb tyres. The LHT was fine although I had to loosen my grip on the bars as my wrists were taking a pounding.

From Ratho I cut over some steep and winding roads to Newbridge. I had somehow got the idea that it would be a simple matter to cross eight lanes of traffic. Thinking back, I must have missed a turning as I entered the industrial estate. I eventually found a route via lots of little crossings, so it was reasonably safe, but it must have taken twenty minutes to cover half a mile.

After Newbridge I followed the A8 back into Edinburgh. Past the Airport, another nightmare of crossings, past Gogarburn and on to the Gyle. After another traffic hopping extravaganza I took the road to Maybury. There was a link down to Cammo which I started on and then changed my mind and rejoined the main road.

After the Bentleys, Range Rovers and Porches in Cammo I went up market into Gamekeepers Row in Crammond. If the people who live there have cars, I couldn't see them. It's all high fences and security. Maybe if they walked, cycled, or God forbid, talked to their neighbours, they wouldn't be so paranoid.
I stopped to rest the 'trucker, and my weary legs, at the shore at Crammond. This little river mooring is unusual on the east coast of Scotland, but all the more wonderful for that. There has been a multitude of Roman artifacts recovered from this area, showing that even two thousand years ago, folk new a safe haven.

Unfortunately there are a lot of folk who aren't quite so clever these days. Above is Crammond Island. Twice a day it is cut off by the tide. Where I took this picture from, there is a huge notice board with regularly updated tide tables. Even so, mouth breathing individuals manage to get cut off most weekends in the summer. The RNLI volunteers from South Quensferry give up their time and wearily go and get them.

I think I had now covered about twenty miles so I finally started heading East and stopped having to battle the headwind. The island of Inchmickery is in the distance. When you sail up the Forth the WW2 gun emplacements give it the appearance of a battleship on the horizon. Whether this was intentional is debatable but it certainly must have been alarming for any U-boats.

The next section was along the coastal promenade and provided  a chance to get the average speed up a little.

Well it would have if I hadn't kept stopping to take photos. This piece of sculpture used to sit on the shore at Skateraw, just along the coast from the lighthouse I visit regularly. It was called "Mr Floaty" then.

Great leisurely cycling, eating up the miles along to Granton.

Just before Granton square is this lighthouse. It used to be beside the water but as more and more land has been claimed from the sea for building development is now half a mile inland.

That little orange boat is the "Wee Star", it used to be moored in Dunbar. From Newhaven I kept to the coast through Leith, Portobello, Joppa, Musselburgh and on into East Lothian. I took a few pictures but it was really overcast and they are all quite dark.

At Port Seton, and about 43 miles, I stopped for a decent break and ate some desperately needed pasta and a banana. I also took the chance to top up on water.

The wind was getting stronger, but at least that meant the cloud finally began to break up.

 At Longniddry I turned off road again and followed the old railway line to Haddington

Fantastic cycling through the tunnel of trees.

In Haddington I was back on road again and followed the cycle route through town and out towards Hailes Castle.

The last twelve miles back to Dunbar were very familiar but still full of lovely views.

When I got home I knew I had been on the LHT for five and a half hours but still felt quite fresh. It really is a great bike for covering distances. Sixty three miles in total so that makes a nice metric century and a fine day away from work.

As a foot note; when I was cleaning and lubing the bike this morning, I noticed the bottom bracket seemed to have a tight spot. I stripped it down and sure enough, the left side bearing is goosed. I've ordered a new BB as they're only £12, but that one only lasted about 10 months which is frustrating. The new one will be getting packed with silicon grease to see if that helps.


  1. My LHT BB isn't to healthy ether and ive not clocked up a great deal of miles on it, not stripped it yet and had a proper look,but I'm off work today and have planned to get out for a 20 mile spin, the wee star, i remember when it was in Dunbar harbor what make of hull is it?

    1. Wee Star is a Hunter Sonata. I think I might have knackered my BB by using a hose to clean the bike. I'll see how this one goes.