Social Ride to West Linton & Blyth Bridge
6 April 2015
On Easter Monday, a group of Ronde riders were planning on heading out under the capable hands (and legs) of Alasdair. Some of us met at Ronde, the rest joining at the Morningside Clock on the way out of town. All in all, 6 of us set off on a crisp but sunny April morning, Neil’s scowls in the shop at mine and John’s bare legs were rather hasty it would later seem. Alasdair informed us of various locations we would be travelling to including West Linton and Blyth Bridge, neither of which I had ever visited before, but I did put in my request for a café stop.
The weather was heating up and most of us stopped to shed some layers before the Moor Road to West Linton began. We had a relatively light headwind but heavy enough for me to hope that John and Duncan, who were doing a sterling job on the front, had forgotten about the previous chain-gang idea… unfortunately they hadn’t. So chain-gang it was, along the open road, wind through our hair, sun shining and hills all around us – bliss. Alasdair and I sat off for a few rotations whilst I was filled in on the local history of the area and the reasons behind the strange ‘obelisk-like’ features which apparently have something to do with a big water pipe heading into Edinburgh. John took this opportunity during the chain to open up Alasdair’s chest vents, much to our amusement and his annoyance – safe to say they were fastened hastily afterwards! Before we knew it, we were off the Moor Road and descending into West Linton and my first experience of cycling in the Borders. For those that don’t know it, West Linton is a gorgeous, picturesque village with an excellent tea room.
After my earlier request, we pulled our bikes over into the garden of the tea room, manoeuvred some of the tables to maximise the sun’s warming effect, and placed our orders. Rachel was being very modest and opted for a very tasty looking lemon-drizzle cake, while the rest of us had some form of roll with bacon (I opted for the treble – bacon, egg and tattie scone – although was heavily mocked for then choosing a diet Irn Bru as my drink of choice). After polishing off our food and drinks, we headed off towards Blyth Bridge and a brief spell on the busy A702. The hills rolled past us, the lambs were out in the fields and we all agreed that it was the perfect day to be out on our bikes. As the road undulated its way towards Peebles, we were joined by a single cyclist on a tandem who drafted along behind us, before we turned off to head north towards Eddleston.
From here we took the road that ran alongside Gladhouse Reservoir, although didn’t actually ever see the reservoir as this would have required a 100yd detour (too much for us to handle…) before finally swinging back towards Penicuik. The short, sharp climb out of Auchendinny was enough to finish most of us off and so Alasdair and John guided us excellently back into Morningside. Here we said our thank-yous to Alasdair and good-byes to Neil before the remaining four continued to Ronde for the obligatory post-ride food and drink. Rachel and I could quite happily say that it was one of our best days on the bike and we all whole-heartedly agreed what a fantastic route Alasdair had led us on. Here’s to the next day off in the sunshine.
Words by Fiona McDonnell, photos courtesy of Fiona McDonnell, John Fitzgerald & Alasdair Anderson