Saturday, 20 July 2013

A Miller's Tale (and a bit of cycling)

The cold I had last weekend hit me hard through the week which made working in the hot hot weather even more unpleasant. Fortunately it cleared up by Friday, so off I went for a pedal this morning. I kind of said that I would keep my journeying to around 30 miles and therefore not be away all day again....Aye.

First it was along to East Linton before a sair pech up Pencraig. The sweat was dripping from my brow onto the bars but there's not really much else to do other than keep spinning upwards.

I cut down through Haddington and went along the local river Tyne.

Seventy psi in the tyres and setts (cobbles) makes for googly eyeballs on the way to the Nungate bridge.

Before the bridge was built, which is a long time ago, this was a ford in the river. It was also a popular place for the old Romany travelling people and their horses. A lot of their language still exists in Hadddington, although like many old ways, it is slowly dying out.
The church in the picture is St Mary's. It took an awful pounding from English forces in the 13th Century. It would have originally have had a crown spire like St Giles in Edinburgh. The east aisle, left side in this pic, didn't have a roof for hundreds of years. It was eventually rebuilt in the 1970s after herculean fund raising by the Lamp of Lothian Trust

One of the leading lights was Yehudi Menuhin who used to come along and perform violin concerts to raise funds. He was handy with the fiddle old Yehudi.

This little bridge crosses the mill lade which runs in a narrow channel parallel with the river but was used to power the grinding and spinning mills of the town.

The falls at the West Mill are nearly dry this year. I can remember them drying completely in the late 1970s, I'm getting old.

Above the falls the river is locally known as 'the tubby'. Generations of local children, myself included, learned to swim here. Just to the right of this picture used to be a tree stump with a diving platform crudely nailed on. The water was deep then and was known as 'the millers hole'.
Local legend told of a miller driving his cart along the track when the whinnying horse reared and bolted.  He fought frantically to hold the horse but all was lost as they plunged into the water and drowned. As kids we would sit on the river bank daring each other to dive deeper to see if the ghostly figure of the drowned miller was still there. Mouth open with sightless eyes reaching hopelessly for the light on the distant surface.
We never did see him, and kids don't swim there anymore, so I guess he's at peace now.

After Haddington I went along the old railway line to Longniddry. The blaze track is getting really sandy with all the hot dry weather. Last year the council had to dig the drain on the left side of the track to deal with all the rain we were having.

Along the coast and past the lagoons at Musselburgh where the swans were gathering for some unseen food.

Portobello promenade is in the distance on the right of this photo. It was absolutely packed and it was great to see so many people enjoying an old fashioned day at the beach. I didn't take any photo's because you just don't nowadays. The cycle computer was saying thirty two miles so I figured it was time for lunch and then to turn around and start for home.

The route back was pretty much the same as the route out but the sea breeze that had got up made the going a bit tougher. I just took my time and enjoyed the sun.

Back inland and the last climb was back over Pencraig with Traprain in the distance.

It was as good a place as any to lie back and enjoy the day before the last push home. Sixty three miles in total and next weekend will have to be a shorter cycle.


  1. Another long one, eh?

    I enjoy the following along from afar, and thanks for the history lesson...and the Scot Dictionary links.

  2. I've been indulging myself being out on the bike all day. It's rare that we get such a prolonged period of good weather in Scotland so it seems a shame to waste it. The Scots was included as I couldn't think of another phrase that describes the effort.

  3. That St. Mary's is a solid looking structure! Wow!

    1. It's a big old church. A macabre feature is that when the river floods, so do the crypts in the cellars. The coffins can be heard bumping around deep below the stone floor.