Saturday, 6 July 2013

East Lothian Loop in the Sunshine.

I have had a couple of ideas about putting together a loop through East Lothian of around 100km. There is an accepted 'Tour of East Lothian', but it takes in Redstone Rigg which is a killer climb. If you start from Musselburgh, then the hard climbs are in the first half of the day. If you live in Dunbar then things are reversed and too much for me. 

So I devised a route that misses out Redstone Rigg and loops out to North Berwick rather than visit Haddington.

Saturday started out with that slight chill and beautiful blue skies. Everything pointed to it being a scorcher, or as close as we get to that in Scotland!

The first twenty miles skirted the hill foots from Dunbar to Pencaitland. Lots of ups and downs on deserted roads. Crossing streams in the shade of  trees, then slow climbs with the heat bouncing back off the road. The day was really getting hot and I would have been glad of the breeze, except of course it was a headwind.

I stopped at the shop in Pencaitland to take on more fluid, then headed along the old railway line to Whitecraig. All along this section are markers for the various coal mines. In the above pic there would probably have been three sets of winding gear for the deep mines. I think the last ones closed in the 1960s. It doesn't take nature long to reclaim the land. The cycling was steady and I picked up some time although this was soon lost when I left the shelter of the trees and had to fight the wind.

After Whitecraig I joined the path along the river Esk into Musselburgh. This is a lovely smooth route into the centre of town with cool shaded stretches and the occasional open view over the river.

Into town and I took the chance to have a proper break lying on the grass, just watching the world go by. Feeling suitably refreshed, I went on past the lagoons and on to the coast road. I wanted to get to North Berwick by four pm, so I got my head down and cranked it on a bit. I managed to keep a good speed up through the small coastal towns and fell in behind a couple of road bikes. I sat with them for a  couple of miles or so but began to notice the pace. When I checked the computer we had averaged 19 mph over the last mile so I backed off and watched the carbon and lycra disappear into the distance. A Long Haul Trucker is made for a slower pace, or at least, I am.

Along the 'mile' to Aberlady and I used the path through the woods. There wasn't a breath of wind here and the smell of the ferns and heat in the trees was intense. Then it was on past Gullane with helicopters flitting backwards and forwards as they prepare for 'The Open'. A golf competition apparently.

North Berwick was a welcome sight although it was very busy with holidaymakers enjoying the sun. The above pic is such a contrast from my visit on a cold afternoon earlier on this year.

The reason for wanting to get to North Berwick on time was to meet with Coastkid on his Pugsley for a catch-up and an erm.... ice cream. We had a couple of very pleasant pints of 'ice cream' in The Ship, then started back up hill out of town. CK had a suggestion of a track I had never been on before. It was mostly grass and hard packed earth and the LHT managed fine.

At Whitekirk I headed off east to Dunbar and Bruce went on his way to his secret HQ. The last few miles into Dunbar were a slog and I was feeling the exertions of the day. The route added up to just over 64 miles or 100+km so that's a bonus. The heat was hard, the highest I saw recorded was 27.7 degrees but it might well have been warmer in the full sunshine. A long day but a good one.


  1. Nice metric! You had a good blend of sun, shade, lounging, brisk riding, solitude, socialization, and (best of all) ice cream! That's a full day, brilliantly done.

    1. Thanks Pondero. It was a full day and I certainly slept well on last night.

  2. Nice write up of a good route Peter, was good to catch up again. Shows there is plenty of road touring routes in East Lothian away from traffic for a LHT.

    Only thing is i now cannot make up my mind wether to get a LHT for next summers tour to Holland or the forth coming Disk Check that is bound be be coming out! -:)

    1. I think the higher BB of the crosscheck would be closer to what you are used to riding. It can take light touring loads and still has off road ability. Minnesota Doug would be the person to ask.