Mostly, this is random stories from my various trips as I collect them, but I've a wee backlog to get through too and those will pop up occasionally.

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Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Sunset song

Astronomically, this has been quite an important part of the year. The summer solstice (in theory) marks out the mid-way point and it inevitably causes me to take a little time out for reflection. Fair to say that, as usual, many rides, walks and paddles I'd considered just haven't happened. Now, I know that June 21st doesn't actually mark the half-way point of summer, but there's still a feeling of it all being downhill from here to winter, so it's time I stepped up my activity level a bit.

That would be all well and good but I'm now caught up in the process of moving house. Selling, buying, packing, organising will all take time and, for the moment at least, I'm unable to commit to any longer trips. That means making the most of what's around me at short notice. The other advantage of this is that I'm re-visiting some places I maybe haven't been for a while and I'm finding that I'm starting to get quite emotional with the thought that I'll be leaving them behind. 

Balerno has been a fantastic place to live. Access to the Pentlands is from the door whether walking or mountain biking, the A71 provides a quick route into West Lothian and Lanarkshire for the road bike and the Water of Leith path is a brilliant corridor in to town with connections to an extensive cycle path network.

As if to illustrate this my last couple of mountain bike trips both featured a chase for a sunset...

On 21st June I'd decided I would pop up Allermuir to catch the sunset on the longest day. With plenty of time to spare I was able to ride from Balerno, up over Maidens Cleugh, down to Glencorse Reservoir then right up over the Castellaw track before the final wee push up to the trig point on Allermuir. It's always a great view up here, with the city lying at the foot of the hill and a panorama stretching from as far as Arran in the west, past Fife and East Lothian and round to the hills above Peebles in the south. It's also always windy - and so it proved that night. I was able to get a little shelter and hunkered down for a bit awaiting the official time of sunset. As I waited, a few other hardy souls also arrived for the same reason. I like when this happens.  It's always reassuring to know you're not completely bonkers. However, the weather just didn't want to play ball and even though the threatening rain clouds came to nought, the time for sunset came and went with nary a sign of its importance. 



Edinburgh, here's to you!!
With any warmth of the day fast disappearing, it was time to make my exit quickly off Allermuir, along the front of Capelaw, down to Bonaly and then past Clubbiedean Reservoir and Harlaw Farm. 


Fast forward to the evening of the 24th and I was again getting ready to go out for a wee ride. I'd not really planned much but I did at least have the foresight to take lights with me. Heading down the water of Leith, I picked up the cycle track from Roseburn and thence to Barnton. That led me nicely around Dalmeny Estate out to South Queensferry just as the sun was setting. Although again cloudy, it was just high enough that the sun could dip down below cloud level prior to setting, lighting up the clouds in the process. 




Satisfied that I'd made up for the earlier nights disappointment I headed home through Dalmeny, Kirkliston and Newbridge before picking up the canal through Ratho to Hermiston and back through Heriot Watt University to Currie and a final leg back up the Water of Leith for 56km in total.  

As I rode, it was getting steadily darker and I eventually gave in on the wooded banks of the canal and switched the lights on. It's a while since I've ridden in the dark like that and I'd forgotten just how much of a buzz it can be. It seems like everything around you is switching off and you concentrate on a small world defined by the pool of light from your headlamp. It's like all your senses are magnified and the endorphins start flowing. Man, I must do this more often!!


So, as I await news on the relocation, I'll be drawing up other little mini-adventures and making the most of what's on my current doorstep, pleased that there is so much available in such a small area of what appears to be industrial, urban, Central Scotland.