Saturday, 11 January 2014

West Fife Cycle Way

Saturday morning and I was back driving the hour or so to Dunfermline to sort out more unnecessary problems. I had hoped to get things tided up by lunch time and so had packed the Long Haul Trucker and my riding kit into the car. Unfortunately it took longer than expected and I didn't manage to get cycling until 2pm so I couldn't go too far before it would be dark.

I had looked up local routes and found that there was an ideal 50km loop using a cycle path along a disused railway line. So first I had to cycle around Dunfermline until I found the start. The big blue signs and the viaduct were a good clue.

The trail looked good and I was soon out of town and into a cold of the winter countryside.

Disused railway lines make great cycle paths as they tend to have only very slight gradients. This of course means that there are bridges and cuttings to keep the track level. A problem with this is that there were lots of sections in cuttings that don't get any sunlight in the winter. Not only was it very cold, I had to very careful of patches of ice.

Despite the risk of rearranging my collar bones, I fair sped along enjoying the smooth tarmac and reveling in the cold crisp air. There was the smell of the mulch of rotting leaves and all along the track blackbirds and dunnocks were foraging for grubs.

An ideal wall for weasels.

Further on and the land began to open out as I entered Clackmananshire. The hills above Alva and Menstrie came into view with a sprinkling of snow on the tops of the old routes over to Glen Devon.

This is the old waiting room at Bogside station, its a shame its been left to rot. Inside there was still the plinth where the heating stove would have sat. Unfortunately the stove itself is long gone.

Shortly after I came to the Bogside signal box which is in only slightly better condition. I also noticed that the front wheel was feeling a bit soft. The path was nearly all ice at this point so I had been cycling on the grass verge at times.

A freezing cold strip down of the front end and the offending thorn was eventually found.

As I happily smeared glue about a passing cyclist tried to stop to see if I needed any help. Unfortunately he didn't see the ice and went down with an awful thump. The visor snapped off his helmet which is preferable to his skull smacking off the ground. He was ok and we chatted for a bit. I didn't get his name but he was training for a Glasgow to Carlyle cycle when the spring comes.

With everything back together and some air in the tyre I carried on past the remains of the Cherryton Brickworks which apparently closed in the 1950's. The kilns and the chimney are still standing and the low winter sun was starting to remind me how far behind schedule I was.

As the cloud rolled in over Clackmannan Tower, I decided to call it a day and turn around. The temperature was dropping again and more frost and ice was forming. I went back to the cycle way got the head down. I pushed hard and managed the 12 miles back to the outskirts of Dunfermline at an average of 14 mph which is pretty good by my standards.

Back in town and I took a wrong turn somewhere and couldn't find the road into the car park where I had left the car. I eventually just got off and pushed the bike through a pedestrian entrance.

A cold cycle but a good one and lots of new sights to see. I must get a new thermos for the coffee this week.

1 comment:

  1. A nice wee historical jaunt you did there Peter & nice to see some photos of somewhere new. It must of been great when those old rail routes were in operation. A couple of years ago they pulled down the old signal box down at my work (LaFarge) Oxwellmains which was a shame the outside of the building was falling to bits but the inside was as if the last signalman just walked out & shut the door behind him, everything was still intact ! Another bit of our old heritage gone forever.