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canoeing, kayaking and other adventures

canoeing and kayaking adventures born in the Southeastern U.S. and now centered in Scotland...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Coasting to Dunbar - 18/5/2008

Bike Scotland Book One, aka the little red book, has 40 cycle routes in central Scotland. Brian and I headed to Dunbar for a route called "Coasting to Dunbar" which was claimed as 25km (15.5mi) and hilly. Our version of it included a few wrong turns for 22mi on Brian's bike computer and a hilly ride that was remarkably similar to last week's mostly flat ride.

We parked at Victoria Harbour in Dunbar and followed the instructions out of the town to Spott Road, making a quick stop at Asda for nose powdering before cycling on toward Spott. Brian had to wait for me a few times as I stopped to take photos of the views back to the sea. The waves looked big by the harbour and they still looked pretty big from so far away. According to the lunar cycle, the full moon will arrive on 20 May, so the big waves make sense. The second time I caught up for Brian waiting patiently for me, he pointed and said, "This is a nice view. You can see Arthur's Seat, Berwick Law and that bird shit place."

With the little red book safely in Brian's pannier, we cycled through Spott and missed the left turn toward Elmscleugh and an eventual ford across a burn. Instead, we enjoyed a long zoom down to another ford and thought we were on the right track until the road came to an end. The left turn was a dead end and the right turn seemed completely the wrong direction, so we checked the little red book and cycled back to fix our mistake.

We found Elmscleugh easily enough and the correct ford. The next town to find was Innerwick. This time, we checked the book and made the correct left turn. Uphill paid off with some nice, long downhill and Brian got ahead of me. The road ended and the left turn downhill led to a quick right to Innerwick. I wasn't sure if Brian made it, so I stopped at the junction to see. I couldn't see him on the Innerwick road because it turned too quickly but I didn't see him at all on the fast downhill to Torness, so I headed to Innerwick anyway. On the way, I passed a guy walking the other direction and asked. He said yes, a cyclist passed maybe 2 minutes before. I said thanks and continued onward. Sure enough, Brian was waiting for me in the village wondering where next.

The little red book said make a left then a right at Innerwick Castle. We didn't see anything resembling a castle, but made a left and a right when they presented themselves and zoomed down to the coast beside Torness Power Station. Just up the way from the power station was a caravan park, the John Muir Path and beach access. The John Muir Path was our route back to Dunbar but the beach looked like a nice place for a picnic.

Our picnic spot looked out toward the next sticky outty bit, which the OS Map said had places called Telegraph Hill, Dowlaw and Fast Castle Head. St Abbs is on the far side of the lump.

After the picnic, we cycled along the walkway beside the power station, watching the waves crash against the synthetic shoreline and admiring the signs that warned against swimming because of the strong currents near the inlet to the power station. Honestly, the appeal wasn't there. At one point along the walkway, the water made crossing in the dry a bit of a challenge. I watched Brian time his sprint across to avoid getting splashed by the incoming waves. He succeeded but only just. It made for an interesting photo series.

Beyond Torness, we followed the John Muir Path along the coast, which is very much a walking path and not as great for bicycles. Fat tyres would have been better. I appreciated the kevlar lining on my tyres for their extra squish, but I could feel the rocky stretches all the way up my back. I preferred the grassy stretches, even with their occasional steep erosion drops. Brian got well ahead of me.

Traffic increased on the path as we passed surfers and then walkers. Brian waited for me first at Barns Ness lighthouse and then the park bench in the golf course. It was a short jaunt back to Dunbar from the park bench. On the drive home, we stopped at Luca's in Musselburgh for that ice cream that Brian didn't get on our cycle to North Berwick last year.

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